Napkin Labs Study Shows That Facebook Doesn't Help Brands Drive Engagement; Superfans Do

BOULDER, CO--(Marketwire - Oct 18, 2012) - Most brands understand the importance of an active, engaged Facebook community, but few brands know how to build one. Fan participation is never strong enough, so brands do what they think makes sense: focus on getting more fans, and posting more content. But today, Napkin Labs is turning common sense on its head. A study conducted by Napkin Labs reveals that when it comes to Facebook, a few very active "Superfans" are way more valuable than the overall quantity of fans.

Fan Engagement: Quantity Does Not Equal Quality

For the study, Napkin labs analyzed fan engagement across 52 Facebook brand pages, with each brand page having between 200,000 and 1,000,000 fans. Of the more than 31.7 million fans who were analyzed over eight weeks, only 6 percent engaged with a brand's Facebook content. While most brands think the best way to boost overall participation is to accumulate more fans, the study proves this is untrue. As a brand page's fan count increased, the amount of engagement from fans didn't necessarily increase along with it. For example, brands pages with over 900,000-1,000,000 fans had 60 percent less engagement than brand pages with 500,000-600,000 fans. 

Superfans: A Key to Viral Content on Facebook

The study shows that rather than quantity of fans, Superfans, or a brand's top twenty most engaged fans, were far more influential. In fact, the engagement of one Superfan is equal to that of 75 fans. This means that while brands work hard to build a big fanbase, only a small fraction of those fans are both active on their Timelines and influential to other fans. 

Superfans have a big influence over how much other fans interact. In the study, the top ten most engaged Superfans received 2.3x more likes and 1.8x more comments than less active Superfans.

"Superfans are vitally important to telling a brand's story," said Riley Gibson, co-founder CEO of Napkin Labs. "These numbers show that brand marketers need to focus less on the volume of fans and more on engaging the fans that they have. Involving engaged fans in richer experiences rather than just pushing messages is one key way to keep communities active and interested."

So, how should brand marketers build a community of Superfans? Napkin Labs offers the following advice:

  • Avoid superficial interactions, like posting promotional messages, sweepstakes and coupon offers. Some of these strategies can get 'likes,' but these are often not the right people and will not drive business value.
  • Provide fans with more meaningful opportunities to engage, like encouraging them to share stories about experiences with your brand, or involving them in co-creation projects on your Facebook page.
  • Identify who your Superfans are, then let them know how much you appreciate them with rewards or privileges.

For information about tools and tips that can help build a community of brand advocates, check out the Napkin Labs website at

About Napkin Labs
Napkin Labs helps companies uncover the creativity and passion of their fans. Brands and agencies around the world use our tools to crowdsource great content, discover new insights, and engage their real fans. Learn more at

Contact Information:

LaunchSquad for Napkin Labs
Erica Orthmann or Anna Farnum
napkinlabs (at) launchsquad (dot) com