Social Brands 100 – who’s the Daddy on Facebook?

Diving into the Social Brands 100 data gives us all sorts of interesting insights into which brands are performing best on specific platforms. A ranking of the top ten performing brands on each of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and foursquare can be found on Slideshare.

Some of the patterns emerging from these platform rankings are:

  • The Facebook top ten has just one FMCG brand included, but that is number one placed MaxiRAW. Travel and Leisure, and Telecom brands share three top ten places between them, with bus and rail companies particularly effective on the platform.
  • The media sector takes four places in the Twitter top ten with MTV taking two slots for MTV Geordie Shore and MTV UK, while the BBC and Capital FM also feature.
  • YouTube is dominated by Technology brands with five spots occupied by the likes of AVG, GoPro, and Sony Xperia, each of them using the platform for user guides and application ideas.
  • Google just misses out to Red Bull to be the number one ranked brand on Google+. Like YouTube this platform’s top ten is dominated by technology brands.
  • foursquare is being used best by the Travel & Leisure sector, with Starbucks taking top honours. Retailer HMV gets a top ten position here, the only appearance of a retail brand across the platform top performers table.

This breakdown by platform performance is one of many insights within the Social Brands 100 publication, downloadable from

Which brands do you think are making the best use of platforms?

Social gets personal: Innocent tops Social Brands 100

Here’s our official press release:

Innocent, the food and drinks brand, has claimed number one position in the Social Brands 100 (, the authoritative ranking of brands leading the way in the social age.

Innocent, which made its name with packaging that spoke directly to its customers, is one of over 300 brands nominated following a crowdsourced nomination process on Twitter that took place in January 2012.

Social Brands 100 Top Ten

Rank Parent Brand Industry
1 Innocent FMCG
2 Starbucks Travel & Leisure
3 giffgaff Telecom
4 Cancer Research UK Charity
5 British Red Cross Charity
6 ARKive Charity
7 = Cadbury FMCG
7 = ASOS Retail
9 = The Ellen DeGeneres Show Entertainment
9 = Met Office Services

The report found that the best performing brands have a genuine, human voice on social platforms and aren’t afraid to get personal.

“It feels like not a day goes by without a new ‘game changing’ platform or technology appearing, and it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that it is people who are at the heart of social media,” says Steve Sponder, Head of Agency at Headstream, the social brand agency that created Social Brands 100.  He adds: “The brands in this ranking have found some of the best ways so far to become part of the ‘people’s media’ in a transparent and compelling way.”

Headstream works in partnership with social media monitoring company Brandwatch. Social Brands 100 measures social performance across a series of markers that demonstrate that the brand is building two-way relationships with its community, engaging in active listening, and behaving in an appropriate way in social spaces.

A panel of industry experts also contributed to the scoring, including Paul Coffey from Google, Bruce Daisley from Twitter, Sean Mahdi from PwC as well as representatives from the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) and IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising).

“Defining a brand as ‘social’ can be both complex and subjective. Every brand is different and customers want to interact with them in different ways. This year we have been able to dig deeper than ever before into our data to analyse brand and consumer interaction at a per post level. Our new techniques in data mining give us valuable insights into how, when and where interaction takes place. Add in Headstream’s social algorithm and desk research and the result is a definitive measure on brand sociability, which crosses industries and sizes of business. We are proud to be part of it,” says Giles Palmer, CEO, Brandwatch.

Other notable findings:

  • A 4% drop in the use of foursquare since 2011, indicating that the use of geo-location platforms has still not taken off.
  • Charities and not-for-profit organisations are starting to make the most of social media, representing over 25% of the top twenty brands this year.
  • In the 10 months since it launched, 49% of brands have joined Google+ with the same number of brands now present on Pinterest.
  • YouTube appears to be a missed opportunity for many sectors, with the exception of technology brands.

The shortlisted brands will be celebrating the results at an event in London later today (29 May), with a panel discussion involving some of the brands and judges from 4.45pm.  Follow the discussion @socialbrands100 and using #sb100. The report can be downloaded from

To mark the launch of the ranking, Brandwatch has built the Social Brands 100 Wormery (, a data visualisation application that collates conversations around Social Brands 100 (#SB100).

The Wall and Brand Republic are exclusive media partners to the Social Brands 100.

Further Methodology:

For more information on the Social Brands 100 methodology, please visit:

Social Brands 100 – the final ranking

After nine months of planning, and five months of nominating, analysing and judging the Social Brands 100 ranking is live! The full findings are now available to download at We would love to know what you think of this year’s roll call of social brand leaders.

Congratulations to every brand listed, you prevailed over another  200 brands that were put forward at the nomination stage. To be included in the 100 shortlist is an achievement in itself, and the range and quality of brands present this year is superb. The popularity of the crowd-sourced nominations has inevitably resulted in many ‘new entrants’ into the list, and a subsequent reshuffle of brand positions from 2011.

The highest ranking brand this year is Innocent, of smoothies fame, a worthy winner that proves year-in year-out an ability to maintain a personal and human connection with its fans. While there are other household names in the top ten, Cadbury, Starbucks, ASOS, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Cancer Research UK, there are also some less obvious names; The Met Office, ARKive, British Red Cross and giffgaff. This is something Social Brands 100 is proud of.

As outlined in earlier posts to use a methodology that ranks brands from different sectors, and of different sizes, as fairly as possible is our primary concern.

To do this we evolved our 2012 methodology from 2011 in two ways. Firstly, we increased the number of platforms, and metrics from those platforms, collected and analysed. In total we selected nineteen metrics from eight different platforms and carefully ascribed weightings to them that reflect where consumers are (fish where the fish are!), and how platforms are used. This gave us what we call our ‘Data Score’ for each brand (full details are on pages 11 and 43-46 of the Social Brands 100 publication). Secondly, we increased the weighting of the Data Score in relation to our ‘Panel Score’, which is derived from our expert panel of judges scoring each brand. This reflects the increased scope of the Data Score to assess metrics such as effectiveness and value of content posted by brands in social spaces.

Of course, you may well  have your own opinion on the strengths or weaknesses of this methodology to judge your particular brand’s social performance, and consider that certain platforms or weightings could be changed. It is possible to ‘bespoke’ social performance measurement through our subsequent brand specific research. However, the intention of the Social Brands 100 methodology is to find a common ground that indicates whether the fundamental social principles of win-win relationships, active listening and appropriate behaviour are being adopted.

Amongst the insights and highlights from this year’s ranking and analysis are:

  • The highest ranked brands create genuine one-to-one connections with individuals on a consistent basis
  • Charity brands emerge as the best performing sector with three charities in the Top Ten, and over 25% of the top twenty.
  • Google+ made its mark as a new entrant with 49 of the 100 brands adopting the platform
  • foursquare remains a niche platform for the Social Brands 100 with 18% adoption compared to 22% in 2011’s ranking

The top ranked brands by industry sector were;

  • Automotive – Ford
  • Charity – Cancer Research UK
  • Entertainment – The Ellen de Generes Show
  • Fashion and Beauty – Lush
  • Financial Services – Wonga
  • FMCG – Innocent
  • Manufactured goods – Gibson
  • Media – Guinness World Records
  • Retail – ASOS
  • Services – Met Office
  • Technology – HTC
  • Telecom – giffgaff
  • Travel & Leisure – Starbucks

Many of these brands will be joining us at an event to celebrate the Social Brands 100 at 4PM (GMT) today (May 29th). To follow the conversation go to @socialbrands100, and track the #sb100 hashtag. We will be taking questions from Twitter as well as the audience, so please feel free to get involved.

There is a host of additional information, detailed analysis and case studies in the full publication that is available for download, here. What do you think of  the Social Brands 100 ranking this year? We’d love to know!

Maximising value from your social brand strategy

Headstream had the enviable job of chairing Brand Republic’s ‘Achieving Maximum Value from Your Social Media Strategy’ conference (#brsms) in London last week (01 July). It was a day full of insight and practical advice thanks to an excellent selection of speakers, and a format that included plenty of interactive panel and workshop sessions. Here are some of the highlights:

The day kicked off with British Telecom’s Vincent Sider . This is the second time I’ve heard Vincent present, which confirmed my first impression that he’s one of the smartest thinkers in the social arena. Responsible for developing and implementing a social media customer service strategy for BT Vincent gave a sneak peek of ‘Debatescape’, the bespoke listening tool BT has developed to service its social customer service efforts.

He made the interesting point that however sophisticated the technology, nothing can replace human analysis when it comes to sentiment tracking, and that “sentiment analysis remains the biggest issue” when it comes to online listening.

Vincent’s ‘big idea’ is that game mechanics (by which he means the behaviours of recognition, reward, and building status over time seen in multi-player computer gaming environments) will become the model for the whole of the social web. Individuals will build their profile and status over time, and brands that enable these individuals to realise their goals will be  the ones that succeed. He gave an example of Knorr Canada’s ‘Salty’ (link) campaign that created a community, enabled dialogue and rewarded participation.

Vincent’s steps to successful social activity are: Plan you story. Listen. Publish. Listen and reward. While I’d argue that that listening should be the first activity, the reminder to listen again and then reward is very apt. A lot of brands miss this step.

According to Vincent underlying all activity should be one fundamental principle: “Listen and engage with kindness”. Forget that and problems occur because, “you aren’t kind”, or “you don’t deliver”.

Next up was Trevor Johnson, Head of Strategy and Planning Facbook, EMEA. Trevor is always worth a listen and made a strong case for the benefits Facebook brings to brands as an advertising and engagement platform. Pointing out that “earned media only happens in social media”, he said only Facebook provides the opportunity for brands to “integrate people into adverts” with ‘social context’ formats e.g. ad copy which shows if you friends have ‘liked this’, or video tailored with an individual’s profile picture.

Trevor pointed out that engaging a community through a Facebook brand page has allowed Starbucks to create dialogue with nine million people. He also sounded a note of caution around leaving  the responsibility conversing with this community to a junior in the organisation.

“Your comments on Facebook should be as important to your CMO and senior marketers as your latest television ad is, it’s the same profile of communication, as Nestle discovered”. (Nestle reference is to the brand’s recent disaster handling its Facebook community.

Citing the examples of Spotify, and Levi’s Friends Store using Facebook Connect to allow individuals to import their ‘social graph’ into the website experience, Trevor concluded that Facebook is all about “serving information based on people’s friends, to make experience richer”.

Overall, a fascinating insight into Facebook’s direction of travel. The company remains way ahead of anyone else, and even the likes of Google are still in ‘catch-up’ mode.

Headstream’s own Chris Buckley then presented his thinking on the principles that brands should have in mind when embarking on social media strategic thinking. He touched on the importance of appropriate behaviour in social spaces, win-win relationships and introduced the concept of ‘social currency’.

After a series of roundtables to give practical advice to delegates on social strategy, thanks to everyone who joined mine, the afternoon session was dominated by some excellent panels.

It was a particular highlight to have Will King, founder of King of Shaves, involved in the panel on building communities around content. Hearing a business owner and entrepreneur’s perspective gave some clear focus on the business imperative for being involved in social.

One of his killer insights, covering both his approach to business overall, and social, was: “Your biggest competitor isn’t actually your competition, but not knowing what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it.”

His point was supported by the ever effusive Maz Nadjm ,Sky’s Community Project Manager, who impressed on the audience the need to identify “What is important to you and what you stand for, before embarking into social media activity”. Having established ‘why’ you are getting  involved the next step is to secure internal buy-in, a task that shouldn’t be underestimated. Maz spends 70-80 pct of his time ‘educating’ internal, and external, audiences on the benefits of social.

Next up was that perennial favourite ‘How to measure the ROI of social media’! Fortunately the excellent panel; Nadine Sharara, Head of e-Commerce at Space NK, and Ricky Chopra, Speedo’s Digital Marketing Manager, focused on their practical experience running campaigns. A common theme was the importance of focusing on who the genuine influencers are, and “focusing down on the active and proactive people”, according to Chopra. Similarly, for Space NK  blogger outreach activity has seen them “Understand who the real influencers are…who are the top five who influence everyone else?”.

Chopra was insistent that ROI is measurable if you are prepared to make the investment in measurement and analytics. Speedo have adopted a ‘score card’ approach to assess on a month by month basis how they are tracking in social, through a variety of criteria e.g. how many unprompted actions have there been, how many positive mentions, how many negative? According to Chopra it’s down to a willingness to work at it “Don’t be lazy, you can measure it (ROI on social) using a blended approach as you would have done with a traditional integrated campaign.”

In the next session on ‘Embedding social into an organisation’ Paul Hood from the Daily Mirror gave some interesting insights into the Mirror Group’s approach as a “legacy business’ coming to terms with the disruption of social.

“At the Mirror our focus is on our content being appropriate for social spaces. We are taking small steps, identifying content verticals and ‘passion centres’ amongst our audience, and focusing on them first.”

Sandra Leonhard, Director of Web Strategy and Business Development for TUI Travel, and MD of Cheqqer, described social as the “second major disruption for the travel industry”, matching the advent of budget airlines for impact. Her advice was for organisations to approach social media at the “brand level” and ensure there is no “silo mentality” where one part of the organisation works in isolation.

The ‘graveyard shift’ went to the panel exploring,  ‘What’s next. Going beyond Facebook and Twitter & Looking to the future. The panel of Martin Verdon Roe, Trip Advisor, David Courtier-Dutton, from Slice the Pie, and Ilicco Elia, Reuters, made the usual gag about “if we knew that we’d not be sitting here, we’d be making billions”, and then indulged in some crystal ball-gazing.

Martin saw the future as mobile and that “globally, mobile will be the big driver for growth”, alongside increased social graph elements such as ‘Trip Friends’.

But the last words have to go to Illico Elia, who envisioned a future that rings very true with me.

“What you (brands) have to realise is that your sales effort is going to have to become more and more personal. Every person in an organisation will need to become a brand advocate, it’s not about building new resource, rather it’s making sure everyone (in the organisation) takes responsibility for being a ‘face’ for the organisation.”


From The Crows Nest…..Hungry for Change?

We’re talking about that glorious foodstuff so fond to our hearts and mouths at headstream this week. Not only have I been putting in a good shift of chowing down cake, doughnuts, biscuits and chocolate like a fatty toadboy, I’ve been able to network about it as well. is the latest intrigue to hit online foodies as this giant recipe book allows users to share their dishes and proud concoctions. Combining a good variety of tagging systems, blogs and being able to upload images & videos to name but a few options available, this is a really clean, clear and easy to use social site. 


Coffee-guzzlers who frequent the well-known refreshment establishment Starbucks can help shape the future of the brand after the company announced its very own social network last week. My Starbucks Idea allows customers converse over all things Starbucks in order for the company to gauge what users and consumers want and need. The US based firm are more than happy to embrace the outcome and have included voting systems over various ideas that members have produced. Despite what is said about the company’s service, price, attitude, blah, blah, S’buck’s must surely be congratulated for their innovative approach this time around. 


As ever, the week couldn’t pass without yet another little nugget of the musical variety. Pennywise are due to release the album ‘Reason To Believe’ on myspace from March 25th to April 8th… of charge! Simply visit Pennywise’s MySpace page, add Textango as a friend, and a message will instruct on the download procedures. And even if American punk-pop ain’t your thing, fear not. I’m sure in a few months time we’ll be able to compile a list of artists who are doing the same. Nice one!