The results of this study really raise as many questions as they resolve. It gives us good insights into how the top 100 brands use twitter to communicate part of their message, but it also raises questions about the viability of this medium to succeed for the smaller brand. As you go thru the results it becomes obvious that they have the marketing budgets to allocate individual employee’s to manage and maintain these accounts as they are active all the time to be effective. It shows you that results do matter, but many of the results that the top 100 receive are purely branding not generating sales or creating an action that you wish to start. Frequency is important to be effective and do you have the support staff to generate that frequency for your brand. And, I still think that the most important is that it still appears that the top 100 brands really have not identified how to direct activities or the actions that they want from their audience…what they are getting is brand awareness and some interaction, but not the actual activation necessary to turn the investment into dollars.
So, what does this mean? The Page Group is not saying don’t engage, but be sure you understand what the costs are, know what your consumer needs and wants from the experience before you start, and always identify the end results you want before you build the tools to generate those results. We work hard on developing the right strategy to effective generate the result. We want action. We want a result. We want our clients to see a positive effect on the goals the set forth not just another social campaign that stirs the social media pot. Social media has to be relevant, effective, and connect with the consumer to succeed, but it has to have a strategy that results in some measurable activity in the end.
Study: How the top 100 brands are using Twitter
Simply Measured and Interbrand just released a study on how the top 100 brands use Twitter. It reveals eight insights on what works for them:
1. Brand adoption
Nearly every top brand has a Twitter account. Since the study started in 2012 that has not changed.
What has changed is how many followers they have, how they use them and how often. The biggest change: 70 percent of the top 100 brands have at least 100.000 followers, up from 48 percent since 2013.
2. Posting frequency
Some companies post as frequently on Facebook as on Twitter. They shouldn’t. Twitter tolerates much more frequent posting than Facebook. Some studies show a tweet every 15 minutes gets higher engagement than a tweet every 30 minutes.
The study results showed that tweeting every fifteen minutes instead of thirty:
- Increased traffic by 31 percent
- Boosted engagement by 89 percent
Twitter should be seen as a stream, not an inbox.
It’s interesting that more brands tweet more frequently. Though nearly 50 percent tweet only one to five times a day, the number that posts 25-plus times a day has increased (but this is more about interacting with users).
3. Tweeting habits
Sometimes our habits reveal who we are. For brands the study revealed the following about tweeting habits:
- Tweets grew 22 percent in the last year
- @Replies to users went from 61 percent to 70 percent
- 90 percent of brands replied to users at least once in Q3 2014
Obviously, engagement on Twitter is up, partly because of the growing number of followers. It’s increased 27 percent.
The engagement numbers:
- Engagement with brand tweets is up by 83 percent since 2013
- Retweets of brand tweets is up 89 percent in the same period
- 59 percent of users engage with brand favorites, up from 49 percent a year ago
The takeaway: Users are more willing in 2014 to endorse branded content.
5. The rise of visual tweets
Twitter has increased its image-sharing (tweets now display images) in the last 12 months. What’s interesting is the engagement that this creates:
- Photos accompanied 45 percent of tweets, but accounted for 51 percent of engagement
- Links appeared on 37 percent of tweets, but only drew 26 percent of @replies and retweets
The takeaway: Top brands exploit visuals on Twitter, post more photos, get more engagement.
6. The top link types
The study, which examined 136.834 tweets, discovered that 59,870 of those tweets (44 percent) included a link:
- Pic.twitter.com links were the most popular: 14,581 tweets, 14 percent of all links
The engagement results:
- Tumblr.com links had the highest engagement per tweet, at 1,522 @replies and retweets per tweet, but accounted for only 51 of sent links
- Vine.com links to embedded videos drew 329 brand posts and the second-highest engagement at 1,194 @replies and retweets per tweet
7. Hashtags are exploding
Hashtags, a very geeky activity 2-3 years ago, have exploded with their adoption by most social networks.
The hashtag numbers:
- 95,825 tweets carried hashtags in Q3 2014, up significantly from Q4 2013, when 52,741 tweets held hashtags, an increase of nearly 82 percent in just 12 months!
Hashtags increase user engagement by 24 percent. But don’t overuse them. Rule of thumb is two to three.
8. The top industries using Twitter
Twitter has worked hard over the last year or two on integrating mass media with social media. That explains the rise of hashtags and twitter handles on TV shows and media companies.
Media brands have by far the largest industry user engagement on Twitter, double the next closest industry, retail.
The study also revealed that restaurants engaged better with users—by nearly 400 percent—than any other industry.
A version of this article first appeared on JeffBullas.com.