Last year was eventful for social marketing. Facebook is still the king, and it not only regularly updates its algorithms but its features and advertising tools as well. Sometimes, as with like gating, it even removes them. Facebook page management is definitely not getting any easier.
And as we move into 2015, it will pay to take a moment to think about what worked, what didn’t, and why.
It’s not hard to notice patterns when you have the kind of data we do, but we’ve spent hours sifting through that data anyway to distill the best lessons from the top pages.
So, let’s review 23 of the best Facebook pages from 2014. There’s something to take away – something actionable – from all of them.
For each page, you’ll see the average monthly organic reach, viral reach, and engagement, and how each metric compares with the average for pages of the same size. Engagement is based on the number of people engaged / the number of people reached. To see how your Facebook page compares against this average and have it added to the list, you just sync your page with the Facebook page Barometer. It’s free and only takes 30 seconds.
1. Animals Australia (Non-Profit)
Fan Count: 702,319
Engagement: 12.25% (Average: 7.4%)
Organic Reach: 132.88% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 5,119.77% (Average: 273.1%)
Animals Australia is a charity; it survives on donor contributions. But, you would be hard-pressed to find any hard soliciting on its Facebook page. Instead, you’ll see humorous pictures and videos of animals, tips for raising your pets, and even an inspirational story or two – like koalas being rescued from a wildfire.
That’s because Animals Australia gets donations not by asking for money, but by endearing people to its cause. The inspirational stories are particularly effective, often getting over 20,000 likes each.
[Tweet “Non-profits: don’t ask for $ on Facebook. Post content to make your fans believe in your cause.”]
2. ChristianCinema.com (Religious Media)
Fan Count: 86,150
Engagement: 9.02% (Average: 7.4%)
Organic Reach: 31.28% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 754.16% (Average: 273.1%)
ChristianCinema.com is a film production and distribution company that also reviews larger theatrical releases for family-friendliness. They’re a Christian lifestyle brand. Their Facebook page, unsurprisingly, is full of posts recommending films for Christian audiences. But, they also post the occasional Bible verse or televangelist quote, usually in picture format.
Then, they ask their fans to comment with an “amen.” It works. One post yielded nearly 3,700 comments and over 50,000 likes. Those are numbers any social media team can be proud of.
[Tweet “Ask your fans to comment and like your posts. You’ll be surprised by how many will.”]
3. Argenis Carruyo Official (Musician)
Fan Count: 6,352
Engagement: 9.31% (Average: 8.4%)
Organic Reach: 61.11% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 609.76% (Average: 273.1%)
On Facebook, celebrity pages are not a sales platform. They’re a marketing one. More specifically, they’re about establishing a personal relationship between the celebrity and his/her fans. A relationship that, in turn, will drive sales.
The Argenis Carruyo Official page gets this right. It doesn’t pitch album sales. Instead, it posts videos of rare concerts, wishes fans happy holidays, puts pictures of Argenis and his family up, and generally makes him seem like somebody who could live down the street from you.
[Tweet “Celebrity FB pages are for marketing, not selling.”]
4. Boldmethod (Educational Media)
Fan Count: 62,436
Engagement: 8.6% (Average: 7.4%)
Organic Reach: 254.68% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 439.20% (Average: 273.1%)
Aviation isn’t particularly easy. You have to take classes – quite a few, actually – before you can even get in the cockpit. And mistakes, as you might expect, are often costly. That’s why savvy pilots stay current on industry news, flight techniques, and developments in aviation technology.
Boldmethod caters to this crowd. On Facebook, it takes part in what can only be described as inbound marketing – educating its fans about all kinds of things in the aviation industry, without actually selling any of its products.
Facebook is a great platform for establishing thought leadership in niche communities, because it brings otherwise small and hard-to-reach groups together to interact with your brand. Boldmethod does this well.
[Tweet “Your FB Page isn’t for selling. It’s for building a community that will naturally buy from you.”]
5. Fully Feline (Lifestyle Magazine)
Fan Count: 227,537
Engagement: 9.24% (Average: 7.4%)
Organic Reach: 68.48% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 305.76% (Average: 273.1%)
As in life, timing matters on Facebook. Posts that relate to current events – even if it’s just a holiday – are known to perform very well. Those events are top-of-mind; your fans are simply more likely to notice them in their feeds, and they’re more likely to interact with them too.
That’s why it makes sense that Fully Feline published several posts about the arrival of the new year, tying most back to their brand with a few pictures of kittens. All of them were unusually engaging – even if they said more or less the same thing.
[Tweet “Publish holiday posts on Facebook. Your fans will be more likely to notice – and engage with – you.”]
6. Bathers Beach House (Bar & Restaurant)
Fan Count: 4,670
Engagement: 22% (Average: 8.4%)
Organic Reach: 88.91% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 288.49% (Average: 273.1%)
It’s well-known that restaurants and bars should be on Facebook. Bar and club owners appreciate this advice the most, as they’re competing less on product and more on experience; and there’s no finer way to prove you can show a good time than by inviting your patrons to post their pictures on your page.
But you don’t have to wait for opening night to begin marketing on Facebook. You don’t even have to wait until your building is finished. Bathers Beach House started talking about their place while it was still a pile of lumber. They documented the construction process and drove customer interest along the way.
Facebook made this behind-the-scenes look – complete with owner-customer interaction – possible. You simply couldn’t do this on a website or in the comments section of a blog post.
[Tweet “Market your restaurant on FB before you open to build interest early & attract good hires.”]
7. Memrise (Education Software)
Fan Count: 110,946
Engagement: 17.17% (Average: 8.5%)
Organic Reach: 109.80% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 265.13% (Average: 273.1%)
Memrise sells educational courses on a variety of subjects, but it’s known for its language courses the most. What’s more, the company also has a quirky, unconventional branding. The learning process they built is, itself, unconventional.
That’s why their Facebook strategy works so well. They talk quite a bit about language – tricks, hacks, jokes, and more, and it gives their fans confidence that the people at Memrise know what they’re doing. But, there’s an almost joking tone in much of their content. It’s a little irreverent, a little playful. That makes their unconventionality – their different approach to things – all the more believable.
[Tweet “Your Facebook content should reflect your brand identify. Be tone appropriate.”]
8. NumbersUSA (Political Organization)
Fan Count: 1,087,067
Engagement: 9.51% (Average: 7.4%)
Organic Reach: 37.49% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 171.06% (Average: 273.1%)
Illegal immigration is a hotly contested, provacative issue in the U.S. And, NumbersUSA, which is dedicated to limiting that immigration, uses provocative Facebook posts to resonate with its fans.
They publish updates – including pictures – like many other pages. They ask their fans to like and comment on their posts, like many other pages. They link to outside sources, like many other pages. But they play on the emotions of their fans in a way many other pages don’t. And in politics, that’s effective. Their tactics range from citing dramatic, often controversial quotes from political rivals, to invoking popular fears.
Whatever side of the immigration spectrum you’re on, NumbersUSA’s page is one to study. Their fan count – in the millions – proves they know something or two about getting page likes.
[Tweet “Political FB pages: use pathos to get fans & engagement.”]
9. les soins par les plantes (Non-Profit)
Fan Count: 147,776
Engagement: 9.77% (Average: 7.4%)
Organic Reach: 134.79% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 165.27% (Average: 273.1%)
Les soins par les plantes is a non-profit that advocates plant-based remedies for common medical problems – like upset stomach and insomnia. It also promotes their use in boosting our natural immune defenses.
It’s an interesting niche. They don’t actually sell anything; they just encourage alternative treatments. And that’s why their Facebook posting strategy is so effective. They actually post those treatments, so their fans can try them at home. It’s a great way to market a concept.
[Tweet “Unusual niches call for unusual FB posting strategies. Don’t be afraid to get creative.”]
10. Monkey Town Helmond (Indoor Playground)
Fan Count: 3,472
Engagement: 11.35% (Average: 8.4%)
Organic Reach: 57.90% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 155.83% (Average: 273.1%)
Holding contests on Facebook is a strategy that works, and works reliably. Monkey Town Helmond, a small indoor playground, told its fans to recommend people who deserved a free ticket. Predictably, engagement was high.
Not only did their fans interact with the page, they also interacted with each other. It made the brand-customer relationship stronger, too, by fostering these new friendships.
[Tweet “Don’t just engage your fans with your FB page. Engage them with each other, too. “]
11. Safety 1st Australia (Baby Goods/Kids Goods)
Fan Count: 17,614
Engagement: 7.12% (Average: 7.9%)
Organic Reach: 90.38% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 150.14% (Average: 273.1%)
Safety 1st Australia creates and sells products designed to make life safer for children. Its brand revolves entirely around that mission.
What makes the Safety 1st Australia Facebook page so effective, then, is how well it adheres to that brand identity. It promotes a few of its products, sure, but it also posts tips – related to the products or not – for reducing the risks children face in the home, the car, or anywhere else. The tips aren’t just symbolic, either. They’re practical and actionable – the kind of posts mothers forward to their friends.
By publishing content like that, the company gives itself more authority over something that would otherwise be more abstract or at least very broad – child safety. It’s simply good branding.
[Tweet “Stay relevant. You have a brand identity; your FB content should support and strengthen it.”]
12. MAXXESS FRANCE (Motorcycle Accessories)
Fan Count: 66,845
Engagement: 16.2% (Average: 7.4%)
Organic Reach: 62.7% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 111.7% (Average: 273.1%)
Motorcycles have a degree of exclusivity. They carry more risk – and generally more excitement – than cars. They represent freedom, rebellion, and a devil-may-care edginess. Many people simply won’t ride one.
That means, as a culture, motorcycles are more insular. Authenticity matters. It’s one of the many reasons Harley-Davidson bikes are the de facto standard of most American outlaw motorcycle gangs. The company has been around a long time and proven itself over and over again.
Even though motorcycle accessory sellers aren’t subject to quite the same scrutiny, being “one of us” certainly helps. That’s why MAXXESS FRANCE’s posts on Facebook range from motorcycle humor to lurid crash videos. It encompasses as much of the riding experience as it can, so it can be part of a community that often buys within the community. And MAXXESS FRANCE has done a very good job of that.
[Tweet “Build a community on FB and be a part of it. Friends buy more from friends.”]
13. Heelbook (Entertainment Apparel)
Fan Count: 76,292
Engagement: 22.7% (Average: 7.4%)
Organic Reach: 73.8% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 108.2% (Average: 273.4%)
Heelbook isn’t a very serious brand. It sells humorous t-shirts based on professional wrestling.
Most of the time, its customers aren’t exceptionally interested in fashion. They’re professional wrestling fans and they enjoy a good laugh – especially when it relates to a joke only they can fully appreciate. Heelbook could talk about what’s happening in professional wrestling on Facebook – who’s winning, who’s losing. It could be more serious. But the shirts – the product they’re selling – just aren’t.
So, Heelbook posts jokes instead. Some of them are on their shirts. Admittedly, there is a bit of selling here. But, mostly, it’s just a little irreverence every few days. And that casual, insider humor is just what the value proposition of their shirts happens to be.
[Tweet “Serious brands should be serious. Casual, humorous ones should not. It comes across as insincere.”]
14. Rady tipy nápady (Lifestyle Community)
Fan Count: 53,751
Engagement: 23.8% (Average: 7.4%)
Organic Reach: 29.9% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 20.6% (Average: 273.1%)
Rady tipy nápady is a partner of Kitchen and Living. It centers on the same design, culinary, and lifestyle concepts that Kitchen and Living is known for. In marketing terms, it’s a brand community. Rady tipy nápady brings an otherwise disparate customer base together, to build a stronger a relationship with them – one that revolves around the community, and by extension the larger company (Kitchen and Living).
They do a few things particularly well in that community, too. A central part of the Rady tipy nápady experience is sharing homemaking ideas. Their Facebook page is full of them. They even take suggestions from their fans and repost them, which involves their community in a more active – and more endearing – way. Their fans get something out of the exchange. They learn homemaking tips and get recognition for their contributions as well.
[Tweet “FB brand communities should be active. The more page-fan interactions, the better.”]
15. Pecheur.com (Fishing)
Fan Count: 71,112
Engagement: 23.8% (Average: 7.4%)
Organic Reach: 29.9% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 20.6% (Average: 273.1%)
Fishing seldom comes easily. You can do it for most of your life and still come up empty-handed time and again. As a sport, it requires practice and mastery; experience is rewarded more than innate ability.
And good, capable fisherman are proud of theirs. They worked hard – and went hungry more than a few times – to get it. Pecheur.com, a fishing company, understands that pride well. That’s why they regularly ask their fans questions about proper fishing form. It offers them a chance to demonstrate what they know. And if there’s disagreements in the comments – which there are at times – it’s even better. A healthy, lively debate makes for a healthy, lively community. It makes their page an established place to talk fishing, which lends credibility to the brand and drives sales in turn.
[Tweet “Know what drives your fans. Start FB conversations around those triggers.”]
16. Heidelberg Cakes (Bakery)
Fan Count: 5,354
Engagement: 20.6% (Average: 8.4%)
Organic Reach: 28% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 4.8% (Average: 273.1%)
Normally, most of us aren’t willing to pay much for a cake. But for special events – like birthdays and weddings – we often spend a little more. Heidelberg Cakes serves that niche. And on Facebook, they strike the right balance of promoting their products without hard-selling them.
They do it by posting about their cakes, but in the context of showing the creativity and good taste of the customers who ordered them. When they can, Heidelberg even tags those customers in their posts. It’s not only a softer sell, its also building a relationship between them and their customers. It involves them in a dialogue – which is one of the strengths of social marketing, one of its best advantages over more traditional channels.
[Tweet “Don’t be afraid to tag your fans in your FB posts. They’ll appreciate the recognition.”]
17. OkChicas (Lifestyle Magazine)
Fan Count: 372,324
Engagement: 17.3% (Average: 7.4%)
Organic Reach: 197.2% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 5,206.6% (Average: 273.1%)
Many of the most widely shared videos – even the truly viral ones – are simple. They’re humorous, endearing, or inspirational. They have broad appeal.
OkChicas is a lifestyle blog and magazine for girls. Posting content on their Facebook page that would otherwise be on their blog could work – it’s repurposing – but it will never go as viral as a cat video will. And what’s more, their audience is at least moderately interested in that kind of thing – adorable videos.
So, they post them. And it gets them viral reach to the tune of 5,206.6%, which is impressive no matter how you look at it.
[Tweet “Viral videos, even if only tangentially relevant, are an easy way to get viral reach on FB.”]
18. Riga Master Workshop (Automotive Restoration)
Fan Count: 6,032
Engagement: 22.6% (Average: 8.4%)
Organic Reach: 74.4% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 88.9% (Average: 273.1%)
There are a few industries, a few niches, that have something of a cult following. Automobiles is one of them. And classic automobiles – particularly in terms of restoration – is another.
Riga Master Workshop takes vintage – and often rare – cars and brings them back to life. It’s a process that inspires passion, which is why their Facebook page regularly posts their progress, including tips and pictures. Their fans learn something about restoration and have the chance to contribute to the discussion through comments. They also get to live vicariously through the mechanics. At the very least, visiting the Riga Master Workshop page is a kind of guilty pleasure.
[Tweet “With cult industries, play to your fans’ passion. You’ll get activity from that alone.”]
19. Get Lean (Fitness Coach)
Fan Count: 27,506
Engagement: 24.3% (Average: 7.9%)
Organic Reach: 66.9% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 112.4% (Average: 273.1%)
There’s always interest – particularly at the start of a new year – in working out. Unfortunately, the industry is polluted with all kinds of spurious claims, diets, routines, and so on. It can be hard to trust them. That’s why establishing credibility is so important.
Get Lean accomplishes that in a variety of ways. The coach himself is in exceptional shape, which is a testament to his program. But more than that, he posts videos of the ways he lifts and eats. It’s like an ad for his paid products, as well as inbound marketing.
[Tweet “Use your FB page for inbounding marketing and thought leadership, not hard selling.”]
20. DNAinfo.com Chicago (City News)
Fan Count: 34,453
Engagement: 5.6% (Average: 7.9%)
Organic Reach: 65% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 31.6% (Average: 273.1%)
It’s hard to establish yourself as a one-stop-site for something as broad as a city, especially when it’s a major one like Chicago. But DNAinfo.com Chicago is doing a wonderful job of it.
Most of it comes from the variety of their posts. They go after major stories, the ones that nearly every Chicagoan will have heard and be affected by, but they also post smaller too. There’s city-wide posts and posts relating to specific neighborhoods. From cultural events, to crime, to sports victories, to restaurant grand openings, their Facebook page has an impressive breadth of content. It appeals to as many Chicagoans as possible, and that’s why so many of them become fans.
[Tweet “For FB pages that focus on cities, don’t just post on the big events; get local ones in, too.”]
21. Club Mavi Hotel & Suites (Hotel)
Fan Count: 1,296
Engagement: 20.7% (Average: 8.4%)
Organic Reach: 50.4% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 29.1% (Average: 273.1%)
Club Mavi, a hotel in Turkey, is a nice hotel but not a major, internationally recognized one. It won’t get fans just for existing; it won’t even always get everyone who stays there to like the page. Brand awareness is a concern.
And that’s why Club Mavi puts its logo on nearly all of the pictures it uploads. When their fans interact with those pictures and their friends see those interactions, they’ll at least get to see the Club Mavi brand. It’s a good way to get visibility in an industry that doesn’t attract likes the way popular musicians or consumer technology companies do.
[Tweet “Brand your FB images. It doesn’t take long and it extends the reach of your marketing.”]
22. Paintball klub Dolná Súča
Fan Count: 1,304
Engagement: 30.6% (Average: 8.4%)
Organic Reach: 38.1% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 34.4% (Average: 273.1%)
Paintball isn’t a popular sport. It’s definitely niche. Most of those who play aren’t regulars, either; they do it to celebrate a birthday or bachelor party, to build teamwork with their co-workers, or for something else altogether. That means it’ll be harder to appeal to these customers on price. You have to sell them, instead, on the sport itself.
This paintball club addressed that problem by posting a few pictures of their customers after a match. Of course, it threw in the occasional promotional offer and competition video too, but most of the content revolved around post-game camaraderie. They even talk specifics on things like corporate retreats.
It helps brand the club as something more than a war games kind of thing. And the conversations on their page between the players in those pictures helps a lot with that.
[Tweet “If your product is niche and your ads are unconventional, your FB content strategy should be too.”]
23. Heidi Liebt
Fan Count: 6,329
Engagement: 12.6% (Average: 8.4%)
Organic Reach: 29.4% (Average: 42.4%)
Viral Reach: 24% (Average: 273.1%)
Although branding is important, as well as community building, many of your fans are simply there for a discount or two. It’s good to remember that. And while it may not be your primary Facebook content strategy, and though it may be even contrary to your business model, that expectation will always be there to a degree.
Thankfully, if you’re okay with discounts, Facebook is a great place to give them. Heidi Liebt focuses on major price breaks. They don’t waste their time with minor cuts here and there – nobody is going to comment and share those, let alone care. But when they offer 75% off in an end-of-season sale, they get a good response. Their fans see it and act on it, and their friends see it and do the same.
It’s the kind of exposure you can’t get from a display ad. Nobody shares those.
[Tweet “Discounts are always a good idea on FB. Most fans like your page to get them.”]
And those are 23 of the best Facebook pages of 2015, with actionable takeaways your brand can use.
While we covered a wide range of tactics, you probably noticed a few repeats. You should have; it’s important. Many, such as community-building and fan-tagging, produce results across most industries. You can mix and match, too. Do whatever works for your page, and be sure to keep tabs on it, as well, so you actually know what’s performing and what’s not.
That said, let us know which pages you’ve admired over the last year. You’ve certainly seen a few winners, so post them here in a comment below!