Greggs has reached a social media milestone by accumulating more than half a million ’likes’ on its Facebook page.

The high street bakery business, which topped British Baker’s BB75 list, based on its store count, has celebrated the landmark moment with the launch of a competition to give away a free Greggs lunch every week of the year to five of its Facebook fans.

Greggs will also be creating a Fan Van, which will put the faces of its Facebook followers on to one of its vehicles.

Speaking of Greggs’ presence on Facebook, Chris Lee, social media consultant and trainer at Planet Content, told British Baker: "It makes sense for Greggs to be active on Facebook. To not be would be a conspicuous absence given its target demographic is there. If you’re looking purely at fan numbers, there are others out there with more fans – for example Starbucks UK. But Greggs’ engagement is good – it has lots of likes and comments, plus the brand responds to wall questions.

“Fans want to feel included and not ignored, so Greggs is doing a good job of fostering a response from fans and showing an interest in its fans in return.”

Lee added that in the retail sector, it has been proven that Facebook fans, and friends of fans, are more likely to visit a brand’s website that they like, and are 10% more likely to make a purchase as a result.

“Success on social media depends on what the objective is for the brand. Ken McMeikan, Greggs’ chief executive, takes a personal interest in social media, so a key strategy for the company appears to be as a way to listen to customers and improve the customer experience as a result. Whatever channel that happens on doesn’t really matter, just so long as the brand is engaged and follows best practice.

“The conversation about brands is happening whether the brands like it or not, so Greggs has positioned itself well by getting involved and actively responding to the feedback of its community. It would be great to learn how this feedback is translating into sales.”

The number of ’likes’ on Greggs’ Facebook currently stands at 503,576, while it has accumulated almost 13,607 Twitter followers.

Facebook revealed that there could be around 83 million fake accounts on the social media site, around 8.7% of its total users, as the firm’s share price dropped to below $20, from $38, last Thursday.