Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

The Secret Behind the Most Engaging Brands on Twitter

Follower count is a meaningless number if a brand and its followers are not interacting, which is actually the function and value of Twitter

When it comes to Twitter and others, we know a presence is important for branding and connecting with customers in this day and age.  However, actually measuring the effectiveness of a Twitter presence is murkier territory. Many still place a lot of weight on follower counts as an indication of whether or not a business’ Twitter marketing is “working.” Though there’s an element of truth to that — the more the merrier when it comes to getting your message out there — it’s not the full picture.

In her article for PR Daily, Kristin Piombino synthesized “The Most Engaging Brands on Twitter,” taking care to note the difference between brands with the most followers and the ones that actually have crafted the most engaging presences.

She found that Facebook is the most followed brand with more than 13.3 million followers. MTV, Google, Starbucks and Microsoft follow suit with follower counts ranging from three to 10 million. However, follower count is a meaningless number if a brand and its followers are not interacting, which is actually the function and value of Twitter.

When examining the brands that are most engaged with their customers on Twitter, there were only a couple of redundancies: MTV and Starbucks. Piombnino found that the top five most engaged brands on Twitter are McDonald’s, Starbucks, Amazon, MTV and eBay.

Piombino went on to look at what these companies are doing right. First and foremost, she found that a staggering 92 percent of these brands tweet more than once a day. No surprise there — the foundation of an effective Twitter presence is activity. No one will engage with a stagnant Twitter account, because — more often than not — users put their tweets out into the ether in hopes of hearing back from other users.

She also found that engagement is greatly affected by visual content. Brands that not only engage, but create dynamic, multidimensional Twitter presences — with photos, videos, links and more — are the ones that go the distance.

Though your advertising clients’ Twitter accounts may not have the multimillion follower count of an MTV or a Google, hope is far from lost. It’s more important to find your audience on Twitter — potential customers, in other words — and reach out and engage with them. Therein lies Twitter’s worth for your and your clients’ businesses.

With Piombino’s findings in mind, we’ve come up with a few key Twitter guidelines to create an engaging presence:

1. Respond to Mentions: If your clients have customers that are reaching out via Twitter, that’s a big deal, and should not go ignored. The users that tweet at McDonald’s are a dime a dozen, but that’s not always the case for small businesses. If they’re lucky enough to already have an active and interested audience on Twitter, they should pay attention, stay current on those mentions and thoughtfully respond in order to maintain that engagement and build upon it.

2. Follow Back: Similarly, you should take into consideration who’s following you. Of course, you should go out of you way to find local customers who are on Twitter and make an effort to connect with them, but you should also pay attention to who already follows you. Admittedly, these can sometimes be spam profiles and, therefore, will never turn into customers for your advertisers — those ones can be overlooked. But do a quick vet of your followers, and if some of them are actual residents in your community who are either existing or potential customers, then you should make the effort to follow them back and engage when appropriate. The effort and attention could do wonders for your customer relations.

3. Customer Service: One of the growing uses of Twitter for business is customer service. For large brands, it’s not uncommon for customers to tweet their complaints in order to have their voices heard. Many of these most engaging brands have taken this as an opportunity to change the customers’ negative experiences for the better. If your clients have followers engaging them over customer service matters, that’s a great opportunity for your clients to demonstrate their care for their customers by thoughtfully addressing those issues.

4. Have Fun: As we noted, many of the most engaging brands on Twitter post visual content, converse with followers and more. While you should take your Twitter seriously as a viable marketing tool, there is always an element of fun at play. Post multimedia content and don’t be afraid to have a laugh with your followers. Customers appreciate when brands show their human side.