The surprising reason why Coca-Cola is not the No. 1 brand on Facebook

Being Liberal has 600,000 fans on Facebook. Coca-Cola has 65 million fans — a following 100 times bigger.

Coke has an astronomical annual ad budget and marketing machine.

Being Liberal is just one guy posting content — zero ad budget.

But one of these pages has 800,000 active users. And the other has more than 900,000 active users. Which is which, and how come?

So the question is why does the No. 1 brand in the real world not have similar brand power on Facebook?

Even Pepsi has 14 million active users — 17 times bigger.

How can Mountain Dew at 8 million fans have only 26,000 active fans (one-fifth of a percent of Pepsi)?

Here’s why:

They’re not advertising right now.

The primary metric for engagement that Facebook has chosen is PTAT (People Talking About This). It’s the number of people who have liked, commented, posted, checked-in, or otherwise generated a story on Facebook over the last 7 days.

We know it’s an ad-driven metric. When General Motors wanted to get back into Facebook ads, they asked us to estimate how much auto manufacturers were spending, so they could set benchmark. Since we don’t know the actual numbers, we looked at PTAT relative to total interactions to approximate ad spend.

Their reach is low.

You’ve likely heard the stat that 16 percent of fans see what you share. That average includes small business pages that have 100 fans. It’s easy to get 16 reach on 100 fans, especially if most are employees and family, but if you’re a consumer packaged goods brand, your true benchmark is closer to 5 percent (2 percent if you’re above 10 million fans). However, if you’re a liquor brand or TV show, you can sometimes get 10 percent.

Coke posted 204 times in the last month. Assuming an organic reach of 3 percent and most of these being global posts, then they’re generating 360 million organic impressions a month.

And assuming their content is reasonably shareable, they’re getting about 10 percent extra in viral impressions. Call that 1 million more impressions a day, which is worth about $5,000 (even though most of their traffic is in Brazil).

Our buddy at Being Liberal did half a billion organic impressions last month — 536,036,646, to be exact. Zero paid impressions.

We know that when you run ads on Facebook, your organic and viral reach gets a nice spike, too, and there’s nothing wrong with that — it’s how the game works.

On April 24, Coke hit a recent high of 1,561,594 active users on Facebook on their main page. Their all-time high was on October 7 of 2012, so they might look at what caused this and how to repeat it.

If you’re look at your brand here, your highs are usually generated when all media channels are working together — with TV as your biggest driver. Try trending your Nielsen ratings with your Facebook, Twitter, and website stats — or we can do it for you.

Low newsfeed coverage means your fans don’t see your messages, giving you the double-whammy of low engagement, too.

Most brands lost 50 percent of their impressions in September 2012, but lost only 23 percent in total interactions, since Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm is doing a great job surfacing the right content. Read more about it here from the Los Angeles Times and also here from Social Fresh.

Focusing on market share of fans, instead of engagement

Coke has 99 million fans when you include its entire portfolio of soda, juices, and other beverages.

It’s interesting that Fanta has 600,000 active users on 9 million fans. In other words, they’ve got nearly as many active users as on the flagship Coke page. What is Fanta doing differently and how can Coke make full use of their portfolio of brands?

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