Social Trends from the Top 25 Brands of Q1 2016

Published on Apr 14th, 2016

The four most socially-engaged brands might not surprise you, but there are three new additions to our quarterly Top 25 U.S. brand rankings—including two that didn’t even exist a year ago.

Overall, brands generated 10% more engagement in Q1 2016 compared with the same time period last year. That growth was driven by a 21% increase in amplification (the sum of shares and retweets) and 66% increase in video engagement.

The top four brands didn’t change from Q1 2015 : National Geographic, NBA, NFL and WWE. Those brands also went on to top our 2015 year-end ranking in the same order. But three brands appear in the Q1 2016 Top 25 who weren’t part of the ranking last year, including No. 5.

Those, of course, are video recipe producers Tasty, Tastemade and Tip Hero. BuzzFeed Food also made the Top 25, but has appeared in the ranking before.

Life hack website Tip Hero joined Facebook in May. Tasty, a BuzzFeed project, launched at the end of July. In about eight months, Tasty has accumulated nearly 51 million fans, more than quadruple BuzzFeed's following. That's nearly 6.4 million fans a month or more than 200,000 a day.

So far this year, Tasty’s engagement has exceeded it’s 2015 total of 102 million actions (likes, comments, shares, retweets and dislikes) on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube by 41%. Tastemade has narrowly eclipsed its 2015 total actions of 53.6 million. And Tip Hero is already 65% to its 2015 engagement total.

Tasty posted the fourth-most engaged Facebook content year to date with more than 4.3 million actions and 151 million views.

Recipe videos accounted for 12 of the 50 most-engaged Facebook posts so far this year. Tip Hero’s Baked Apple Roses video recipe was the top overall Facebook post of 2015 with an almost unbelievable 8.6 million actions and 263 million views.

Why are video recipes so popular? The videos are often a minute or less, include on-screen instructions and play automatically in our news feeds without sound.

“They’re quietly mesmerizing, and perfect for mobile. It’s like watching a trailer for your dinner,” Washington Post reporter Maura Judkis wrote .

Has National Geographics Social Engagement Peaked?

National Geographic is still the king of social media , but for how long?

For seven consecutive calendar quarters starting in January 2014, Nat Geo experienced engagement growth on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. That stopped in Q4 2015 and continued in Q1 2016 when the brand generated 332 million actions.

Two quarters of declining growth doesn’t necessarily make a trend, but Nat Geo’s engagement was 45% lower in Q1 2016 than at its peak of nearly 483 million actions in Q3 2015.

Nat Geo was the top-ranked brand in 2014 and 2015 , but the NBA only trails the iconic publisher by 3% with 321 million actions in Q1 2016. That’s a significant dropoff from the 39% lead Nat Geo held over the NBA after Q1 2015, which increased to more than 95% by the end of the year when Nat Geo generated 1.6 billion actions.

At its current pace, Nat Geo will generate 1.33 billion social actions this year, 20% less than 2015.

The Rise of the NBA on Social

Let’s take a closer look at how the NBA narrowed the engagement gap with Nat Geo.

In Q1, videos accounted for just 23% of the NBA’s content, but generated 45% of its engagement. That’s 143.4 million actions from videos. During that time, videos accounted for 6% of Nat Geo’s content and generated 4% of its engagement, 13.1 million actions. That difference more than accounts for the 10 million actions that separated both brands at the end of Q1 2016.

The NBA generated more engagement than Nat Geo in February, unseating the publisher for the first time. And the league increased its Q1 2016 engagement by 58% compared with the same time last year.

Social video is one of the best ways for brands to generate social engagement. And the NBA generated the most overall engagement from video of any brand in Q1 with 143.4 million actions.

We broke down how the NBA uses video after All-Star Weekend . The NBA posts clips and highlight packages, tapping into its rich history and take its audiences behind the scenes and off the court. The league also drives engagement by promoting its stars.

Half of the NBA’s 10 most-engaged Facebook posts feature Golden State Warriors guard and 2015 MVP Stephen Curry, including No. 2 on that list. That post features Curry hitting a half-court shot to win a game and generated nearly 800,000 actions and 20 million views.


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