There’s only so much value brands can attribute to a large number of “likes” on their company’s Facebook page, according to Tribe Dynamics, the San Francisco-based influencer/relationship management start up. Industry experts are largely in agreement that the “like” is one of the least valuable forms of earned media: it requires minimal engagement from the fan and therefore is largely uninformative for brands looking to gain a better understanding of their followers. According to Forrester Research, Tribe said, the value a Facebook “like” is around $0.

If this is the case, what conclusions can be drawn from say, MAC’s Facebook page accumulating more than 6 million likes for the month ended August 2013, in contrast to Maybelline’s 3,893,157 and L’Oréal 2,111,657, both successors to MAC in earned media value? Beyond 1 million likes, Tribe said, it’s difficult to gauge the influence of a single like. Popularity is popularity.

A question that stands out is: What is it about MAC’s Facebook page that can serve as a model for engagement and socially influential content? For starters, in the first half of August, the engagement rate MAC’s page experienced per post (likes and shares) was significantly larger than other leading brands. The content posted during this time included:

• A Campaign Launch: Viva Glam Campaign with RuPaul, with all sales proceeds from Viva Glam – The Original (lip gloss) going towards helping women, men and children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. (12,772 likes, 1,400+ shares)
• A Photo Album: Images included MAC artists at Barcelona Fashion Week (9,962 likes, 394 shares)
• “Artist Faves Live Chat”: MAC invited fans to post their makeup questions on a live feed with a professional makeup artist (2,326 likes, 82 shares)
• Clever Graphic: A simple black and white graphic, mimicking the MAC aesthetic, showing the handwritten message: “Dear fans, we like you 6 million times back!” (6,266 likes, 50 shares)

Without a product image or traditional advertisement in sight, the level of engagement MAC experienced on its Facebook page is a snapshot of the engagement it realizes across other social channels in earned media. For the same span of time, original user-generated posts mentioning the brand received a total of 4,860 likes. Compare that to Maybelline at 510 and L’Oréal with 76.

To view the full Tribe Dynamics report on In-House Generated Media, please click here.