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This article was published on August 20, 2011

The 10 biggest brands on Facebook: What’s hot and what’s not

The 10 biggest brands on Facebook: What’s hot and what’s not
Courtney Boyd Myers
Story by

Courtney Boyd Myers

Courtney Boyd Myers is the founder of audience.io, a transatlantic company designed to help New York and London based technology startups gr Courtney Boyd Myers is the founder of audience.io, a transatlantic company designed to help New York and London based technology startups grow internationally. Previously, she was the Features Editor and East Coast Editor of TNW covering New York City startups and digital innovation. She loves magnets + reading on a Kindle. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter @CBM and .

Social media is on target to be a $30bn industry (per year) by 2015 and Facebook is growing faster than any site in history. It is the #1 place to have a community for a brand because it touches every single vertical across the enterprise: customer service, sales and public relations.

Let’s take a look at the 10 biggest brands on Facebook, the social content distributors and gamers like Facebook itself, Texas Hold’em Poker (Zynga) and YouTube; pop stars like Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Eminem, Shakira, Linkin Park and Rihanna; and TV shows like Family Guy. Funnily enough, in the time it took to start writing until finishing this piece, Facebook snuck past Texas Hold’em Poker to claim the #1 spot on the chart, and Rihanna danced past Lady Gaga, thanks in part to her new sponsorship with Vita Coca.

And for expert advice, we’ve turned to Lindsay Kaplan, a Social Marketing Expert in New York City; Reema Mitra, an Account Supervisor at EdelmanDigital.com; and Stuart Tracte, a Social Media Strategist at Definition 6.

1. Facebook

Mission: Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.

Number of Fans: 50,929,267

Daily Growth: 157,851

Weekly Growth: 2,288,293

No surprise here: Facebook is the #1 most Liked brand on its own social network. But only 7% of nearly 700 million Facebook users are fans of the brand online, totaling 50 million fans.

What’s Hot: Facebook really keeps its followers up-to-date with company news. It uses its page to post announcements for upcoming Facebook Live sessions and any new features on the world’s largest social network. Facebook recently posted an album of “Father’s Day Stories,” which is a great way for users to feel special being featured on the page.

And like any smart brand, Facebook points its fans to recent press, such as guides to Facebook Groups featured in The New York Times. But it also features other news like when Spotify launched in the United States. By mixing brand related content with unrelated, yet engaging content, Facebook is showing its “human side” in social media. Of course, Spotify uses Facebook for many of its social features so it’s not completely unrelated.

Facebook’s Resources section is phenomenal. Find out how you can get involved, share your story, join the Facebook translation effort and check out what jobs Facebook is hiring for. There’s also a hefty amount of information for marketers, advertisers and developers.

What’s Not: Facebook needs to work on responding to user comments. Often the brand just posts a question or announcement and then just sits back and lets the 20,000+ comments roll in. There’s no back and forth conversation. It’s just announcement and observation. I bet Facebook could seriously up its 7% customer acquisition on its own platform with a little social media TLC. Facebook should read our 7 tips on how to be a human in social media.

I don’t understand why Facebook has so many Likes. If I want to know information about changes on FB, I’ll visit a source that leaked the info or announced it first. You know, like Twitter. I find the content extremely self-serving and uninteresting,” says Edelman’s Reema Mitra.

2. Texas Hold’em Poker

General Information: Zynga Poker is the #1 poker game in the world. Play with friends and see who’s got the best poker face or come and meet some new buddies. Help out in a poker challenge, or send daily bonus chips to friends. Don’t forget to see if you can place in the Weekly Tournament!

Number of Fans: 48,718,257

Daily Growth: 80,770

Weekly Growth: 594,076

What’s Hot: Zynga’s Texas Hold’em Poker is one brand that doesn’t have to put much effort into its Facebook page. It’s a place where you can play poker with nearly 50 million other people on Facebook. A “Fan of the Week” feature is coming soon, which is a great way for brands to make users feel special.

Texas Hold’em Poker’s landing Page is a sexy redhead coyly holding some playing cards. Click through, and you’ll find the Zynga application. It’s as simple as sex and gambling — the duo has never not been a winning combination”, says Lindsay Kaplan, a Social Marketing Expert in New York City.

What’s Not: Zynga’s Texas Hold’em Poker game is apparently the most addictive game on Facebook, yet it has one of the slowest weekly growth numbers of any other brand on this list. The page makes users jump through hoops. Mitra points out that “Texas Hold’em’s landing tab redirects to the app which restricts access. This is probably a barrier in participation, except that it’s online poker. People want to play online. Most people would jump through the hoop to play with friends.”

3. Eminem

Likes: Bad Meets Evil, Dr Dre, D12

Number of Fans: 45,595,961

Daily Growth: 218,548

Weekly Growth: 1,961,561

What’s Hot: For big Eminem fans, it’s pretty awesome to be able to scroll through photos of the rapper with his pal’s Royce Da 5’9″ & Bruno Mars “Lighters” on set (below). Fans are also able to upload their own photos to Eminem’s wall, giving them their own 5 seconds of fame.

From an external app on his Facebook page, you can check out “Bad Meets Evil,” his new album and watch Vevo powered music videos. One of his videos, “I’m Not Afraid”, has a whopping 266 million views. Eminem also plays nice by posting videos by other artists and Liking other artists on Facebook like Dr. Dre and D12. It’s not exactly the same as Coca Cola liking Pepsi, but it still shows he’s supportive of the community he’s a part of.

What’s Not: Enough with the over-gamification. This one doesn’t even make sense: To promote his new album, there’s a Bad Meets Evil “Welcome to Hell” Facebook Game? Hint: Eminem is not portrayed as a chatbot. Eminem’s page however, provides a lack of context or personality.

Mitra weighs in, “This page is “strictly facts” aka links of music, videos and collabs. Eminem’s page does nothing for community management in comparison. As a social media manager, I will always err on the side of creating engagement with updates vs. pushing content.”

4. YouTube

Wall: What bare-knuckled, Akron-based blues-rock band took their name from an answering machine message left by a schizophrenic artist?

a) Blues Traveler
b) The White Stripes
c) The Black Keys
d) Widespread Panic
e) The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Number of Fans: 43,867,379

Daily Growth: 247,393

Weekly Growth: 2,694,216

What’s Hot: Serious props to whoever manages YouTube’s Facebook account. I really dig the engagement as it’s actually valuable content. For example, YouTube posted a link to an infographic on its blog showing how YouTube users responded to videos from Democrats and Republicans on the YouTube Town Hall, then asked, “Let us know in the comments whether you think Washington is doing a good job.” Surprisingly, only 108 people have commented since yesterday afternoon. YouTube posts photos of its internal events, such as its latest YouTube NextUp Creator Camp 2011 and the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011.

This past June, YouTube released its documentary length film, “Life in a Day,” which received a massive wave of praise worldwide. [See our review here: YouTube’s Life in a Day movie is a stunner] To celebrate (and continue to promote the movie), it’s letting users create their very own Life in a Day movie poster by adding photos from Facebook and then prompting you to share those posters with your friends. Finally, YouTube’s “Top Video” section is great for discovering trending videos and new content broken down by category like Pets, Film, Animation and Music.

What’s Not: YouTube’s Discussion section (pictured above) needs a lot of work. First, should there even be a discussion section at all? It’s just driving commentary away from the videos themselves and from YouTube’s Wall where its more visible and likely to stick. Also, aesthetically, it’s horribly uninviting.

5. Rihanna

About: LOUD!

Number of Fans: 43,862,689

Daily Growth: 208,707

Weekly Growth: 1,983,380

What’s Hot: Rihanna flew past Lady Gaga in recent weeks, likely due to her massive marketing deal with VitaCoco water and her sexy mermaid hair-do. For this partnership, Rihanna’s team is picking a Tropical Fan of the Week on her page who then receives free cases of the drink. The team also posts quotes from Rihanna on the Facebook wall such as,

‎”I think honesty is the ultimate liberation in life. People want to shy away from the truth and keep sweeping it under the rug. But after a while, you pick up the rug and there’s just way too much dirt, so you might as well just be up front about it.”


I dig that the first thing you’re presented with on Rihanna’s page is the ability to play her new music videos in a really beautiful, purple customized YouTube player. You can easily buy and share songs from within her page, as well as browse her upcoming tour dates.

What’s Not: The fact that I just Liked her Facebook page and the song stopped. That’s not hot. Other observations: according to Kaplan, Rihanna has one of the sleeker-looking Pages in the top 10. But on closer inspection, she says, the Page lacks some aesthetic optimization. “Rihanna is absolutely gorgeous — it’s surprising that the Page’s photo doesn’t make use of the full 540×180 pixel specs.”

6. Lady Gaga

Current Location: New York City

Number of Fans: 42,617, 386

Daily Growth: 163,286

Weekly Growth: 1,568,756

What’s Hot: If there ever was one true social media rock star, it would be Lady Gaga. The now 25-year old pop singer shot to fame following the release of her debut studio album The Fame (2008), which featured hit singles “Just Dance” and “Poker Face”. The last time I saw her she was wearing crazy futuristic Polaroid glasses and trying to explain to the crowd at CES how Polaroid cameras worked. Little known fact about Lady Gaga: Her father, Joseph Germanotta, was an Internet entrepreneur who started and ultimately owned a company that installed Wi-Fi in hotel chains.

On her Facebook page, Mitra points out that Lady Gaga not only acknowledges the power of her fans, but provides them with compelling reasons to interact with her. For example, one of her latest updates is of her surfing (“no heels baby”). This is rich content, and an inside look into her life works well with Lady Gaga’s overall mysterious brand identity.

“Lady Gaga loads her Wall with updates for her fans, including videos, exclusive photos and Gaga-isms like simple, “FUCK THURSDAY.” It doesn’t matter if she posts from House of Gaga — she has her “little monsters” wrapped around her finger. The user engagement rate is pretty impressive, but her e-commerce Facebook store is down right genius. $25 for a pair of Lady Gaga Helvetica Monster Sunglasses? I’m sold,” says Kaplan.

What’s Not: Her current profile photo could use an update. She looks like Wolfman but more importantly, you can’t even tell who it is because the photo is small and blurry unless you click to enlarge.

Take a break from reading to dance to Lady Gaga

7. Michael Jackson

Likes: Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour by Cirque du Soleil, Michael Jackson The Experience

Number of Fans: 40,013,056

Daily Growth: 129,927

Weekly Growth: 1,203,909

What’s Hot: R.I.P Michael Jackson, but thanks to the eternal Facebook, the man lives on! In the two years since MJ’s death, his Facebook page has been a useful way to stay in touch with news about the pop star’s music and for fans to receive daily reminders of his songs and videos. For example, one video posted just 4 hours ago, has over 33,000 Likes. You can also buy $50 “Beat It” MJ plastic figurines through his Facebook store.

What’s Not: Considering Michael Jackson’s Facebook page functions as a place for distraught fans to keep in touch with their favorite pop star, it’s a shame his brand team doesn’t put more effort into filling out his personal Info section with engaging content. It’s underutilized when it would be a great place for fans to learn more about the nebulous man. Right now it just reads as his Wikipedia page. More to that point, Social Media Strategist Stuart Tracte explains:

The MJ page has good use of “like gating”. You cannot consume content on the landing page without liking it first.  Those who may want to stay within the confines of Facebook and consume this content must click the like button.  I would have liked to see exclusive content for Facebook only. There is nothing on this page that cant be found elsewhere on the Web.

8. Shakira

Hometown: Barranquilla, Colombia

Number of Fans: 39,379,761

Daily Growth: 254,422

Weekly Growth: 2,133,250

What’s Hot: Shakira’s main page is the music video for her latest song “Rabiosa” (in which she dons a brunette do!), with links to buy the track on iTunes and Amazon. Mitra says, “Shakira’s page does a great job of combining info and engagement. The page is professional looking and has stylized tabs and the welcome page houses videos. Since video consumption is growing rapidly, this is definitely a smart move.” And the fact that Shakira posts updates in both Spanish and English was a winner with both social media experts. In fact, her page is one of the most internationally friendly Facebook pages that I’ve seen.

“Shakira’s Facebook Page includes updates in both Spanish and English — an interesting choice for one of the world’s most popular multilingual musicians. Although Facebook allows international Pages to post targeted updates in different languages, Shakira’s Page wisely represents her international stardom,” says Kaplan.

What’s Not: The only content on this page is Shakira, Shakira, Shakira. There’s no shout-outs to other Colombian pop stars or relevant music news. So it’s very much just a loud soapbox as opposed to being used as a tool for community engagement.

9. Family Guy

Starring: Peter Griffin (Seth MacFarlane), Lois Griffin (Alex Borstein), Chris Griffin (Seth Green), Meg Griffin (Mila Kunis), Stewie Griffin (Seth MacFarlane), Brian Griffin (Seth MacFarlane), Cleveland Brown (Mike Henry)

Number of Fans: 36,670,729

Daily Growth: 101,306

Weekly Growth: 1,324,414

What’s Hot: The best part about The Family Guy Facebook page? The links to watch full episodes of Family Guy on Fox.com. There are also entertaining short clips in the video section. The marketing team at Fox at least updates the page quite frequently and supports other shows within the Fox network.

What’s Not: The Family Guy Facebook page leaves much to be desired. As funny as the show is, the page falls flat on its face. Kaplan points out that Family Guy seems to benefit from the show’s popularity more than its community efforts. “Considering it is one of the top ten Pages on Facebook, the brand hasn’t appeared to invest much bespoke effort into its engagement techniques. The wall posts are visibly posted via HootSuite, the Poll application is powered by FanAppz. But Family Guy is a prime example of popularity winning out over procedure. You can design the most creative, innovative and socially-conscious Page on the Internet, but you need authentic real life support to gain real social traction.”

As for Family Guy, I was pretty unimpressed, outside of the fact that you can watch full episodes within the Facebook environment. You’ve got one of the most rabid fanbases out there.  Remember, this show was cancelled until their fans raised a loud enough voice and the show made a HUGE comeback. People love to quote Family Guy and its fans are quite passionate. I don’t see much here outside of basic promotion. The voice is not conversational,” says Stuart Tracte.

10. Linkin Park

Likes: Club Tattoo, Transformers, United Nations Foundation, A Thousand Suns 2010-2011 World Tour, Dead By Sunrise, Music For Relief, Machine Shop Marketing, LP Underground

Number of Fans: 33,993,172

Daily Growth: 112,739

Weekly Growth: 1,127,700

What’s Hot: Linkin Park might not be on top of their game anymore, but the band still played the world premiere of Transformers 3. Old fans and new fans can easily keep up with the band’s coming and goings through daily updates on their Wall. Like most bands, you can buy gear through their Facebook store and buy tickets through an external SongKick link. But what really makes Linkin Park stand out from the rest is the page’s focus on charity.

“Causes and relief efforts are very popular on Facebook, and users genuinely want to support these efforts with the help of their favorite bands. Although the tab is pretty poor looking (FBML anyone?), it gets the job done. They call out individual fans, highlight big donors, and provide exclusive videos. But considering their fans numbers have exceeded 33 million, you would expect more than $276,000 in donations,” says Kaplan.

What’s Not: Linkin Park’s Facebook page is solid. It’s making full use of all marketing platforms and it does so in an engaging and communicative way. But let’s take a look at why it even made it into the top 10 in the first place. Linkin Park is far past its prime. So how does it have so many Facebook Likes?

Kaplan elucidates this mystery: “When Facebook refreshed personal profiles last year, it updated favorite music and television shows to sync with brand Pages. Many popular musicians and TV shows — like Linkin Park, Michael Jackson, Family Guy and Eminem — benefited from being listed in users’ profile. As Page “fans” became “likes,” millions of users unknowingly began to subscribe to brand Pages that they assumed were just listed in their Information section.” So, it seems that many college kids who may have listed Linkin Park under their favorite music section unknowingly became fans of the brand.

Bonus: 11. Coca Cola

Lindsay Kaplan points out that: “Coca-Cola’s Facebook story is the stuff social media manager dreams are made of. The Coca-Cola Page (#11 on the list) was originally created in the early days of Facebook’s transition from Groups 1.0 to Pages by a few loyal fans. Rather than usurp the page blaze with corporate communications guns blazing, it worked with the fans to enthusiastically take part in building up the page with it. Enough time has passed for Coca-Cola to carry on, but it still gives credit to the original creators and feature them in videos. Well played, Coke.”

What’s clear is that all of these brands have fanbases who are passionate, often regardless of the brand’s approach to social media. None of the aforementioned accounts are doing anything overly impressive or shockingly innovative. Daily updates keeps the pages in peoples’ timelines and engaging content increases the likeliness that content will be shared, therefore increasing potential likes. As time moves forward, keep a watch on this space. Will brands begin to eschew their standard websites to maintain rich Facebook pages? Will Facebook apps play a larger role in competing with other brands? Or will bands flee from Facebook to Google+ once it opens its doors to companies?

What do you think? Share in the comments.

*NB: The Facebook fan numbers were recorded as of Saturday, 20th August, 2011 and are not updated in real time.

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