After starting our investigations of the biggest brand publishers on social media in June, we’re pleased to bring you an update for July 2015. 
With wider coverage and over 400 of the top global brands now being tracked and monitored by our Spike platform, we’re happy to include ranking tables within this update. See this supporting blog to read about our methodology.
So what trends do we have to report?
As the table below shows, there’s a new performer on the podium – Steam Powered, taking 2nd place from Country Outfitter, and rising from 11th to 2nd month-on-month.
Country Outfitter hasn’t fallen out of the top 10 though, ranking in 7th place for July – still an impressive result.
Social engagement performance
The first, second, and third-ranked brands on social in July were thus SomeEcards, Steam Powered and RedBull. These brands recorded social engagements on their content of 718,998; 649,290 and 509,050 respectively.
It’s notable how SomeEcards acts as a quasi-publisher with its content-related product, whilst RedBull’s content marketing continues to shine as an example to all, combining engaging stories with great copy and stunning images and video. More on brand content trends later.
Also, compared to last month’s data from our Spike platform, it seems the distribution of performance is wider in July, with the core of top performing brands showing relatively greater outperformance of the rest.

The Risers

Other notable risers this month, some newly entering the top 10 in July, were:

  • Microsoft: rising from 8th to 4th
  • Windows: newly surging into the top 25, taking 8th position
  • Cisco: also newly surging into the top 25, to take 9th position

With nine of the top 10 brands collecting over 100k social engagements on their content, these top ranked content marketers are truly world-leading. Noting the rapidly growing engagement on news and publisher content (see Liam’s great blogs on the biggest Facebook and Twitter publishers here and here), we look forward to seeing how these engagement levels change for leading brands.

The Fallers

For every rising brand, someone is getting pushed down the rankings. So who are the fallers from the top 10 in July?
We mentioned Country Outfitter above, but the following brands also dropped in our rankings:

  • Playstation fell from 4th to 6th
  • EASports fell from 5th to outside of the top 25
  • Best Buy fell from 6th to 16th
  • Ben and Jerry’s fell from 9th to outside the top 25 too
  • Outback also falls from 10th to outside the top 25

A number of these brands, whilst falling from the top 25, are still firmly in the top 100 though.
We were interested to see Ben and Jerry’s slip from 9th position in June after its huge success with the ‘I dough, I dough’ campaign. This just goes to show that it’s not easy to keep up these performance levels and keep on the tails of the likes of RedBull.

Engagement per article

Engagement per article showed a large distribution, but not nearly as large as in June. Coach enjoys nearly 14k engagements per article on content, contrasting heavily with Oracle at only 29 engagements per article. We’re defining ‘article’ as a piece of content, at a URL, that we track with our Spike platform and using this methodology.
Engagements per article
In fact average engagement per article was down around 50% amongst the top performers, with only one brand achieving greater than 10k engagements per article on average – Coach. There were notably lower engagement levels evident across the other brands too. Marketers reading this might wonder if this is the summer impacting content virality.
Even within this overall decline, two of the top three performers retain their podium positions for engagement – Coach, moving from third to first and Rock Star Games, moving from second to third. Nice work Coach – whilst your brand engagement was mostly due to promoting a new range, it clearly resonated deeply.
Top engagement performer Coach has improved its metrics here by nearly 30% month-on-month, while June’s top performer Rock Star Games showed an engagement per article decline of more than 50% – albeit while remaining in the top 10, and falling from second to third position here. Outback is not featured in our rankings this month, whilst another strong engagement performer in June, SomeEcards, saw engagement per article drop by 10%.
In July, GoPro and SomeEcards also recorded relatively strong engagements per article scores, though with their content types you might expect them to. Perhaps more unexpectedly, Windows, a brand offering potentially less inspiring content to consumers – recorded strong average engagement per article scores too.
Of the inherently ‘cool’ and shareable content providers, it’s interesting to see RedBull record an average engagement per article number of 12% of GoPro’s. Given that RedBull’s overall engagement numbers are huge, producing a similar number of articles to last month and with similar engagements per article, we were thinking perhaps GoPro should produce more content?
However, we then looked at GoPro’s content and noted that they produce lots of potentially shareable pieces – including these stunning videos of free divers filming whales and a majestic wilderness base jump.
A quick check in tools such as ShareTally (results here and here) and searches in Twitter (results here and here) support the data in our Spike database and our finding that little sharing is observed on this content at GoPro URLs. It seems most of GoPro’s content engagement occurs off-site – note the engagement on this YouTube video of the aforementioned free divers.

Which Platforms are the Engagements From?

As the table below shows, Facebook continues to drive most of the engagement across this brand content.

BRAND DOMAIN % FACEBOOK  % TWITTER  % LINKEDIN  % PINTEREST 98.23% 1.63% 0.03% 0.10% 93.12% 6.66% 0.14% 0.04% 96.13% 3.26% 0.44% 0.04% 61.55% 29.45% 8.83% 0.00% 67.05% 32.80% 0.06% 0.00% 97.75% 1.03% 0.01% 1.07% 80.66% 19.19% 0.13% 0.00% 68.35% 23.60% 8.00% 0.00% 18.54% 13.37% 67.78% 0.00% 43.74% 53.14% 1.38% 0.65% 79.40% 11.06% 9.47% 0.01% 19.56% 42.84% 37.15% 0.00% 99.99% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 59.15% 40.38% 0.35% 0.02% 82.28% 14.68% 1.88% 1.00% 88.74% 10.33% 0.75% 0.01% 85.95% 11.92% 1.98% 0.14% 79.04% 1.35% 19.48% 0.00% 97.10% 2.32% 0.55% 0.00% 18.31% 81.11% 0.08% 0.00% 77.99% 10.70% 10.94% 0.00% 3.43% 44.63% 48.31% 0.02% 91.90% 7.31% 0.10% 0.67% 92.43% 2.19% 5.33% 0.00% 73.52% 7.93% 18.18% 0.00%

In fact, 20 of the top 25 brands drive over 50% of their engagements from Facebook. Beyond this, only three brands collected over 50% engagement from other platforms – Cisco with 68% from LinkedIn, DropBox with 53% from Twitter and Xbox with over 80% from Twitter.
Quite the Twitter focus from Xbox there, which marks a change from June when the brand’s split of engagement across social platforms was as follows: 55% from Facebook, 44% from Twitter, and the remainder from LinkedIn and Pinterest. When investigating this more closely, Xbox’s Twitter engagement numbers are fairly similar for July, so the new skew is the result of far lower Facebook engagement.
Overall Facebook continues to dominate as the most important social platform for brands. Where brands show a bias towards Facebook, it is a very strong one, often resulting in over 80% or 90% of engagement from this platform. Viral brand content providers – such as RedBull – are good exemplars of this trend.

Frequency of Publishing

Monthly changes in frequency of publishing appear to be relatively limited, except for Oracle, whose 2,119 articles published in July is over twice the numbers of the busiest publishers – Microsoft and RedBull – in June.
Total publishing volume
Beyond this, the most frequent publishers – such as Microsoft, RedBull, Xbox and Intel – are joined by DropBox, IBM and Cisco in July.
Two of June’s least frequent publishers – Coach and Rock Star Games – retain their lower output volumes, joined in the lower reaches of this table by GoPro, Converse and T-Mobile.
Once again, there are some very different content marketing and marketing tactics at work here, including differences in volume and frequency of publishing.

Content Tactics and Viral Hits

A look at the top three brand publishers by total engagement reveals quite different performances across their content portfolio in July. )
SomeEcards achieved dozens of strong performing pieces of content, which were led by one big viral hit featuring a poem discovered in a London bar. This certainly got people talking, in part due to its surprising twist. The tweet below stars as the mainstay of this content piece.

Without this content hit, SomeEcards would not have held onto first position in our July rankings – so thanks are due to the poet, a certain Chanie Gorkin, who keeps a low profile here.
Steam Powered showed a smaller group of content pieces doing most of the work accruing social signals, led by this piece featuring a game – Five Nights at Freddy’s 4.
RedBull, like SomeCards, also had a wide range of content pieces performing well, with both brands publishing a significant number of successful content pieces.
RedBull’s best performing article in July was this blog featuring a video of motocross rider, James Stewart, showing how to do the ‘Bubba Scrub’ (also embedded below). Credit to Mr Stewart – those are some bike skills. Perhaps you’ll be stunt riding in a James Bond film soon?
However, RedBull’s top performing content pieces for July didn’t collect nearly as many engagements as their ones for June, where the likes of this story about the abandoned Silverdome becoming a BMX track and this story about Chris Sharma free climbing a giant Redwood in California performed more powerfully.

What of the engagement/article Kings?

Interestingly, both Coach and GoPro showed not just a small volume of content pieces but one piece collecting nearly all the social engagement. These brands literally have one horse in the race.
In the case of Coach, it was this promotion of a range of new arrivals – which ladies are clearly going wild for. (Excuse the pun). For GoPro, this product page, featuring the new Hero4 Session, is clearly being heavily promoted and engaged with – check out the social counts in the screenshot below.
Given that this engagement is being driven by product related pages, which are often promoted with paid media budgets, the old adage that ‘averages lie’ is true here. In reality, in terms of actual content collecting the most social engagements per article, other publishers – such as SomeEcards and Converse – might be used as better reference points of brand publishing best practice.
Well, that’s it for this rankings update. Let me know via email if you’d like us to investigate any specific content and marketing trends. And stand by – we’ve got lots more great blogs to come, including a ranking of the biggest viral content hits by brands in July.
Note: if your brand is missing and you think it should feature in our rankings, get in touch and let us know. We strive for full coverage of the sectors we produce rankings for, but occasionally we miss something.

Where Does the Data Come From?

Our Spike data base, which powers our Spike dashboard and is used by content gurus and marketers around the world to find the most engaging content themes for their audience as soon as they emerge. It’s also great for media monitoring, highlighting the conversations that really matter about your brand, as they take off.
Think real-time content marketing is just a dream? Not any more. Take a free trial of Spike to find out more and exploit content opportunities before your competitors.

What next?