Branded Content Is King on Facebook. Here’s John Cena and The Data To Prove It.

    by Gabriele Boland
    September 11, 2017
    Cricket Wireless posted a video to Facebook with John Cena that received nearly 2.4 million engagements. (Facebook Screenshot.)

    This article was originally published on the NewsWhip blog.

    On social, content is the unchallenged king and users detest ads in their feeds. In turn, sponsored content on Facebook has become an instant hit for brands.

    In our report for brands, we saw that 90 percent of B2B customers prefer custom content as a way for brands to engage directly with them. A study this week revealed that this sentiment extends to emails from brands as well.


    When we looked at sponsored posts on Instagram, we saw that these posts could drive 100 times the engagement for a brand than the brands’ own content.

    We last wrote about branded Facebook posts last October and since then Facebook has created additional features, no longer requiring that Pages be verified to share branded posts. With the end of 2017 and the holiday season quickly approaching, we decided to look again at how publishers and brands are creating successful branded content.

    What are the top branded posts on Facebook?

    Let’s start by looking at the top ten English-language branded posts of August. Unsurprisingly, celebrities like John Cena can make a big impact for brands.


    These posts drive notable engagements. The top post drove nearly 470,000 likes, shares, comments, and reactions. For FC Barcelona, the top branded posts were connected to Rakuten Arena. Rakuten just kicked off a sponsorship with the team in July. Now, deals like this can extend to social media mentions.

    It’s also worth noting that Indian and Filipino branded posts figured several times in the top 100 branded posts. These countries have quite active audiences on Facebook, with 241 million users in India and 33.14 million users in the Philippines.

    What were the posts like?

    So what were the tactics behind the most engaging branded posts? How can you, as a brand or as a publisher or influencer, create compelling content that won’t appear like an advertisement?

    When we looked at the top 100 branded posts, we noticed that nearly 60 percent were video posts, and nearly 40 percent were photo posts. With this in mind, it’s necessary to make sure you’re incorporating visuals.

    There are a few other key tactics to note:

    1. Brands are either incidental in these posts, or they are the focus. For many of the bigger brands, their names are simply attached to the post, but they oftentimes don’t play a part. Look at Thrillist’s post with Microsoft versus So Yummy’s post with Daily Harvest.
    2. Stay in alignment with the Pages’ content. You don’t want to break your audience’s genuine connection with the Page by posting the branded content. INSIDER’s gadget-focused post with Dunkin’ Donuts is a perfect example.
    3. Focus on something for your brand to be connected to. It can be a value like adventure, enthusiasm, or compassion, or a current events issue or charity. We’ve said it before — go beyond the brand. This has worked for Reebok, Red Bull, and others that have followed suit.

    How did these engagements compare for the brands’ own Pages?

    Let’s look at the brands behind the top ten branded posts. If we look at their Pages and their average engagements on public posts in August, we can see the effect of their top branded posts.

    On Facebook, the difference between a branded post and the brands’ own native content is much more drastic than that of Instagram. For instance, Ocean Spray’s branded post with Tasty was 5,700 times more engaging than the brand’s average engagements on its own Page.

    Additionally, Cricket Wireless’ average was impacted by posting a video with John Cena for nearly 2.4 million engagements. Brands should certainly take advantage of their branded content by reposting or reusing it on their own channels.

    If we refine these engagements further, the effects of branded posts become more valuable. The top 100 branded posts drove an average of 4,356 shares per post. That’s 4,356 individual networks of friends and families that you are potentially reaching.

    What were the top Pages for branded posts?

    Obviously, quite a lot of the success will come down to who creates the branded post. That’s the point of using an influencer, after all — tapping into their vast network.

    Sports (including athletes), publishers, and celebrities all created the most posts in the top 100 branded posts for August, with food publishers also doing particularly well. Beyond those verticals, Pages that focus on technology, science, fashion, architecture, and travel also appeared in the top 100.

    These niche pages already have an engaged audience — followers that are already interested in relevant products and services.

    What were the top industries behind the most engaging branded posts?

    We looked at the top 100 English-language branded posts to determine which types of brands drove the most engagements.

    Food and sports seem to perform the best, beyond even the top ten, which is unsurprising given that food publishers like Tasty comprise the most engaging Pages on Facebook. Meanwhile, sports Pages have a built-in, passionate fandom.

    We lumped electronics, technology, and video game companies together here. We’ve seen previously that futuristic tech posts can drive strong engagements, while like sports, video games can also have a zealous following.

    The other top performing industries were finance, appliances, celebrities, and entertainment.

    Interestingly, there was just one B2B brand that made it into the top 100 posts, which is Bounty Sports, a marketing agency. The sports angle likely helped its success as well.

    Gabriele Boland is an analyst/content producer at NewsWhip. Endlessly fascinated by the evolving digital space, she writes about the latest trends in marketing and social media. Her writing has been featured on Huffington Post, the Boston Globe, and Miami Herald.

    Tagged: branded content newswhip social media analytics

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