Heineken is something of a Jupiter sized gas giant (but not full of gas, of course) when it comes to beer brands on social media. They just crossed 8m fans this month, which makes all the other beer brands look like Pluto-esque dwarf planets by comparison (although I'm at pains to point out that unlike Pluto, Bud Light, Budweiser and Carlsberg have not yet been downgraded from their current classification of being a beer). Infact, no other alcoholic brand even holds a solar sized flare to the total number of fans Heineken has.
In the last 30 days, Heineken has seen its fanbase grow by over 4.3%. Even though this is somewhat off the mark of the sector average, which saw a 10.7% growth, even a 4.3% growth equates to over 330,000 new fans. Impressive by any astronomical measurement you care to use.
Heineken posts about once a day, which is a good call if you want to keep your fans happy. Unfortunately for Heineken though, most of these posts go unnoticed by the overwhelming majority, with each post barely registering a few hundred Likes or Shares. The chart below shows the average engagement score (a calculation of the number of Likes, Comments, Shares and Estimated Impressions each post receives) which illustrates how well beer brands are engaging for the time period analyzed.
However, every now and then, the slumbering giant awakens and Heineken posts something that connects with a huge number of fans. The most recent example of this happened on August 24th. If 14 days of news seems like a lifetime ago to you, let me refresh your memory: Nasa's Curiosity, the most sophisticated piece of engineering ever to be sent to another planet, touched down gracefully on Mars. Many brands celebrated this feat of engineering on their Facebook page, but none saw such stellar engagement as Heineken who were, to use an old cliché, light years ahead of the rest.
This wasn't just a well Photoshopped image though (sorry, there really isn't a Heineken bar on Mars, although it would be awesome if there was), there is a much larger story behind it. Curious fans who clicked the provided link to a YouTube video would understand it better. It turns out that way back in 2005, Heineken made a TV ad that was a rather clever spoof of the Spirit and Phoenix Mars Rovers landing on Mars. Instead of using complex experiments and irrefutable science to look for life, the fun loving Dutch engineer turns the rover in to a Heineken bar, complete with a pre-chilled beer (although getting water condensing on the bottle in the Martian atmosphere would be a miracle of physics) and says "let's wait for life to find us". Now that Curiosity has joined the other Rovers, presumably Heineken believes that there's going to be some kind of robotic cyber party on the Red Planet.
With an engagement score of 541, it was the most popular post in the last 30 days for Heineken. Over 13,300 people shared the photo, which means that assuming each fan has at least 100 friends, a potential 1m additional people saw Heineken’s clever image. However, amongst the top beer brands in North America, it wasn't the most popular post for the time period analyzed.
Heineken has done a fantastic job of growing their fan base and deserve recognition for keeping up their rapid growth rates. Their ability to leverage current events and use social media to connect with their customers is second to none. However, other beer brands are engaging their fans better and getting more people talking about the brand.
Note: One or two astronomy themed metaphors, puns and analogies may have crept in to this blog post. Please be kind and humor the author, who studied Aerospace Engineering, but quickly realized that writing for a living was far easier than doing finite element analysis and partial differential equations for the rest of his life.
All data has been compiled and analyzed from the Unmetric platform which tracks dozens of metrics to enable brands to benchmark themselves against competitors and their industry sector. The time period analyzed was 2nd August 2012 to 1st September 2012. Gain access to all this data by claiming a 10 day free trial.