At Percolate, we think a lot about how data is transforming marketing. From driving insights into consumer behavior to benchmarking campaigns, marketers are under increasing pressure to educate themselves on how to make use of the enormous amounts of data available to them.

But not all marketers have the resources to collect and accurately analyze the vast amounts of data produced by audience behavior on channels like Facebook and Twitter – let alone understand that data and draw the appropriate insights. At Percolate, we’re fortunate to have a data scientist or two, so we thought we’d revisit one of the largest marketing channels of all – Facebook.

Recently, we dove into the data of the top 1,000 restaurant accounts on Facebook. This week we analyzed the top 1,000 most popular finance pages on Facebook to uncover key trends, benchmarks, and just how the top performing finance brands approach marketing.

For a complete picture of the data download our latest whitepaper: “Social Accounting: Benchmarking the World’s Top Finance Brands.”

GLOBAL BENCHMARKS

To start, Visa and MasterCard are the world’s leading finance brands by sheer fan numbers with 17.1 million and 11.4 million fans respectively. Itaú, a global Latin American bank headquartered in Brazil with more than 7.3 million fans comes in at respectable third in the global ranking of finance brands.

Finance Brand Facebook Fans

But what is perhaps most interesting about this ranking are the players that are missing. Bank of America clocks in at number 18 by fans on Facebook, 11 spots below Paypal. HSBC, Santander and Barclays – some of the largest and most respected financial institutions in the world – fall outside the top 10 or even top 20 most popular brands.

Percolate-Finance-Facebook-Pages

The data also shows that only a few finance brands have truly gone global. Visa has 43 Facebook pages among the top 1,000 active country-specific Facebook pages, while MasterCard boasts 36 and American Express has 25.

CONTENT BENCHMARKS

Turning now to content, we see that video is clearly the best content marketing investment for finance brands on Facebook. On average video posts like Vine, Instagram, and YouTube get 1,683% more likes, 347% more comments and 3,756% more shares than text and/or text plus link only status posts. Similarly, image posts clearly outperform non-visual content, generating 1,212% more likes, 278% more comments, and 1,085% more shares than text and/or text plus link only status posts.

Percolate-Finance-Video-ROI

 

While video is undoubtedly the best content marketing investment for finance brands, given the relative high costs of producing video versus static imagery, high quality and on-brand image posts offer the best return on advertising (ROA) for finance brands dollar for dollar.

What else can we learn from best performing finance content? As we looked more closely at the data, we found that the best performing finance content in the U.S. had the following characteristics:

  1. Featured a high-quality, branded image
  2. Displays a single, topical hashtag
  3. Tells an emotion-driven, human story
  4. Ties health and longevity to financial savings

 

Percolate-Finance-Top-Post-Characteristics

Voya Financial and Ameriprise, two companies which focus on retirement and financial planning, authored image posts featuring powerful, human stories around longevity, health, and savings. Both posts outperformed the category average by more than 100% on audience engagement.

What can financial institutions looking to up their content marketing-game learn from Voya and Ameriprise? More so than any single variable on its own, both of these posts demonstrate power of finding customer-content fit. Telling a human story does not simply mean featuring an image of any random individual. Telling a human story is about knowing what resonates most with your audience and carefully crafting an experience (beyond subject and text to include design considerations like image saturation, focus, color, scale, etc.) that produces the desired behavior (like thinking about retirement).

Percolate-Finance-Top-Posts-Facebok

Internationally, the best performing posts on Facebook particularly in South Asian markets like Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines told human stories which largely featured images of family members together. While family was a common a theme in the U.S. market, internationally this trend was even more prevalent.

THE BEST PERFORMING ACCOUNTS ON FACEBOOK

As we analyzed the data we noticed something a little unexpected. As the number of fans for a particular page grew, the average engagement rate for an account page produced fell dramatically. The drop off was especially noticeable as account pages went from the hundreds of thousands to the millions.

Percolate-Finance-Engagement-Fans

 

What this finding speaks to is something we’ve talked about on the Percolate blog before, the decline of organic reach. Furthermore, the vast majority of finance brands on Facebook had less than a million followers. In the graph above, more than 80% of the top finance brands are in that first box.

Marketers with audiences in the millions engage a substantially smaller overall percentage of their audience than marketers with audiences in the hundreds of thousands. Last year, Percolate co-founder James Gross wrote that you won’t create content without promoting it. Marketers with large followings on Facebook need to therefore have a rock-solid distribution plan to even engage a small percentage of their overall audience.

So how do the top performing accounts do things differently on Facebook? For the purposes of our analysis, we defined the top 10% of accounts as the best performing, and compared this group to the next 90%.

Compared to the next 90% of accounts, the top 10% of accounts:

  1. Create fewer posts per month (32.6 posts vs 81.1)
  2. Create more image posts per month (80.2% vs 72.9%)
  3. Create more video posts per month (5.8% vs 5.2%)
  4. Create fewer just-text status posts per month (6.1% vs 8.3%)
  5. Uses fewer posting workflows (3.8 vs 4.0)

This latest study of public Facebook marketing data validated a number of important trends we’ve discussed before. First, compelling visual content with a strong content-audience fit is a must for finance brands. Second, global brands to tailor their message to a local audience, which can include cultural expectations. Third, it’s not simply enough to create great content. Particularly if you have a large audience, you need to pay-to-promote in order to achieve true ROI on what you create.

We could never fit all of the data, insights, charts, and trends from a dataset this size into a single blog post. For a complete picture of the top 1,000 finance accounts on Facebook download our latest whitepaper: “Social Accounting: Benchmarking the World’s Top Finance Brands.”