The vast majority of top brands are on Facebook -- but they aren't doing enough to engage consumers through the site, suggests a new study by agency WongDoody. Of the top 100 brands as determined by Interbrand's Best Global Brands 2010 rankings, 84 have dedicated Facebook pages, with an average of 1.8 million fans.
From these pages, the agency analyzed 60,276 wall posts, 12,872 comments, and 119,404 "Likes" to see how companies are using the social network boasting 600 million users worldwide.
On the plus side, most brand pages offer new content nearly every day and actively solicit fan comments (82%) and respond to consumer questions (82%). Posting video is especially popular, with almost nine out of 10 marketers putting up mainly television spots or other repurposed material. But there isn't much original video tailored to a company's Facebook presence.
Nearly eight in 10 of the brands studied allow people to post on their wall, indicating a willingness to give consumers a voice and invite mutual sharing. At the same time, it's also important for marketers to respond to wall posts and comments to maintain a dialog with users. "Don't just dip your toe in, dive in headfirst," advises the report. "Replying to fan comments and wall posts is the one-to-one relationship companies should be eager to embrace, and fans are certainly looking for that level of attentiveness."
WongDoody argues that companies should go even farther when it comes to encouraging fan participation.
That means embracing tools like surveys and contests to help boost user interaction. The study notes, for example, that among the top brands with Facebook pages, 39% solicited photo submissions, one-third promoted contests, 39% used polls and quizzes for fun, and another 32% posted surveys to gain consumer feedback.
"The marketing challenge lies not in convincing users to Like your page, which takes only a cursory click, but to make sure your page is not forgotten as just one more link on a fan's Info page," the report states.
But even if successful at getting people to sign up as fans, there is wide variation among the names on Interbrand's list of top brands. For instance, Coca-Cola, ranked No. 1 in 2010, has 22.5 million fans compared to 38,339 for IBM, the No. 2 brand. Maybe IBM should enlist Watson to figure out how to pump up its fan base.