Top Global Brands That Adopted Facebook Early Are Still Enjoying The Benefits

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg

When did the world’s top 85 consumer-facing brands join Facebook?

It’s a useful question, for several reasons.

Seeing the date that top brands joined the social network allows us to gauge whether or not early adoption had any benefit for brands, in the form of lasting advantages such as audience size.

Also, Facebook will celebrate its 10th anniversary in February. There will be a flurry of tech press reports emphasising the fact that Facebook is not so young anymore.

But the history of brands on Facebook is much younger than that. Facebook pages launched in 2007. KFC, the first brand to join in our sample of 85, did so in late 2007. Many top brands didn’t join until 2009, or later.

A chronological representation helps us put the history of social media marketing in perspective. It’s a young discipline, a half-dozen years old at most.

We’ll have deeper analysis in an upcoming report, but here are some tentative conclusions:

  • For most brands, joining early means they still have more followers or fans than their peers that were late adopters, as can be seen by the trend line on the chart.

    This makes sense intuitively: if you hang around long enough you accumulate more fans. But this fact should give social media marketers pause. Is it really clever strategies that lead to social media audience gains, or is a big part of it simply being present?

  • There’s an exception to the rule: brands that are global household names — McDonald’s, Samsung Mobile etc. — tend to have humongous numbers of followers no matter how late they joined.

The bottom line: Unless your brand already has blockbuster brand equity built up, it pays off to join a social media platform early.

We did not include a spreadsheet with this chart. Our datasets will be released early next year in an in-depth report on brands and social media.

A note on methodology: We counted followers in the middle two weeks of December. For brands that did not reveal the date they joined Facebook — McDonald’s is one example — we guessed the join date by finding their first timeline posts that were not clearly uploaded retroactively (a time-stamp usually revealed this).

The brands were chosen from Interbrand’s top 100 list of global brands, after removing banks like HSBC that had no Facebook presence, and business-to-business brands like Oracle.

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