2.4 Million Talking About What?

Say what you want about the banal nature of seeing what your cousin had for dinner or yet another adorable puppy shot, consumers are spending more and more time on Facebook.  For marketers, this provides not only an obligation to participate, but a huge opportunity to learn and grow.

On Facebook Pages, usually companies or products, there are two universal numbers that are available to all. Specifically, number of ‘likes’, and the number of ‘people talking about’ the page/company/product.

Number of likes is simply how many people have clicked ‘like’ on the page. On the surface, this is a signal that a person endorses, appreciates, or otherwise likes a company or product. In most cases, it ads adds the activity of that page to a user’s newsfeed. Not too different from subscribing to email updates in years past.

Number of people talking about is a bit more complex, and well-defined in this article from Inside Facebook.  In a nutshell, the metric strives to measure how much current interest there is in a given page/company/product.

With these numbers, marketers have a window into their competitors and customers. As a simple example, and in tribute to the few days of sunshine Northern California is getting this weekend, I present three sunscreen manufacturers, by their own Facebook numbers.

1. Bullfrog Sunscreen: 42,800 likes, 14 talking about this. Bullfrog, more specifically Tad their charismatic Facebook face, appears to have been very active on Facebook for a 6-month period (spring & summer, not too surprising given that he’s a bullfrog). During which time the number of likes went through the roof. That engagement dropped off significantly, evidenced by the 14 talking about number. I’m guessing Tad isn’t a boarder or skier, as there are plenty of activities in California that require sunscreen year-round (and could keep his ‘talking about’ numbers higher.)

2. Hawaiian Tropic: 66,000 ‘likes’, 306 talking about this. Hawaiian Tropic appears to have a well-run yet straightforward Facebook strategy. The company posts pictures, encourages ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ of shots including relaxing beaches, swimsuit-clad models, and other images that are admittedly nice things to like, comment on, and share in a social media context. With each, of course, Hawaiian Tropic’s brand gets shared too.

3. Watermans Sunscreen, with 5,400 likes, 85 talking about this.  A fraction the users with high engagement – what gives? Watermans is a small specialty sunscreen vendor in Southern California, offering a high-end product. Their target: adrenaline junkies, evidenced by ample pictures of people engaging in extreme water sports like surfing and kayaking. Not only are they posting their own gnarly surf pictures, they have encouraged customers, enthusiasts, and business partners to post to their wall, upping the level of engagement.

Which of these businesses is more successful is an open question: Facebook is not the end-all, be-all of brand awareness, sales, or any other business metric.  What can be learned from this, however, is what your competitors are doing and what’s working.  When comparing themselves to Hawaiian Tropic, Bullfrog may determine that they should host their own bikini model competition to promote their sunscreen.  Looking at competitors such as Watermans, however, tells a different story: going with an extreme sports angle, more similar to Bullfrog’s current brand leanings, is a completely viable strategy without having to run a me-too style tactic to sell more sunscreen.

Not bad for 5 minutes of Facebooking.  Now back to pictures of puppies.

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