Reverse engineering Facebook: what can we learn from three leading brands’ apps?

An app says a lot about a branded Facebook page.

It can tell us whether a brand has a data and/or member acquisition strategy, while providing insight into the consistency of branding and coherency of content strategy.

It can reveal the true extent of on-page geo-targeting, amalgamating localised campaigns and content that would ordinarily be kept in silos.

And it can provide rich pickings for poaching actionable insights.

Let’s take the UK’s top three Facebook pages*. Let’s reverse engineer their apps.

1)      Amazon UK

Overview: Eight apps – Photos, Videos, Help, Community Guidelines, Stores, Likes, Locations, Welcome

Synopsis: Beyond the standard Photos and Videos apps, which reveal a focus on product and brand rather than user content, there are no wildly entertaining apps, but the brand appears to be focused more on information-sharing and acquisition. The Stores app signposts on-site products and categories taking you directly through to purchase, the Help app drives through to on-site FAQs, while the handy Locations app geotargets your nearest Amazon lockers. Finally, the Welcome app incentivises page Likes with the promise of offers and deals.

Purpose: Inform, Incentivise, Drive Acquisition


2)      Skittles

Overview: Five apps – Photos, Likes, Skittles, Rainbow, Videos

Synopsis: The Photos app gives a clear insight into a visually-led content strategy, where ordinary photos are quickly branded with the iconic sweets being edited into the shot. User-generated content also plays a key role, as fans are incentivised to share photos of themselves endorsing the product to gain Greatest Fan in the World status. Beyond this, the Play the Game app incentivises data acquisition via a competition mechanic, while the Rainbow app provides a mishmash of shareable content.

Purpose: Entertain, Involve, Incentivise


3)      Coca-Cola

Overview: 12 apps – Photos, Likes, Home, Your Stories, Videos, Events, WWHSN, Page Creators, House Rules, Ahh Giver, Polar Bear, Likes

Synopsis: By far the highest concentration of apps of all three brands, clearly catering to a spread of localised markets. The Photos app tells a story of brand ambassadors, products and campaigns, strategically placed and photographed with members of the global Coca-Cola community. Fan acquisition is driven by a beautifully simple app inviting visitors to join the brand by Liking the page. The majority of apps are not especially stand-out: the Home app, for instance, drives traffic through to the main website, signposting product information and FAQs. The remainder of apps are designed to either capture UGC or drive content sharing; Your Stories invites visitors to share shots of themselves endorsing the brand, while the Ahh Giver app encourages content sharing through personalised messages that can be sent to friends. Similarly, the Where Will Happiness Strike Next? app offers shareable video content.

Purpose: Inform, Entertain, Involve, Incentivise


In summary, the apps follow a largely consistent formula:

–          Entertaining

–          Informing

–          Involving

–          Incentivising

–          Driving Acquisition

And considering the pages have a combined reach of 85,073,236 fans, there may be a something to be learned here.



*Socialbakers, December 2012 Social Media Report: Facebook Pages in the United Kingdom

Patrick Hoesly, Circuit board texture.  Shared under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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