10 Lessons from the Top 25 Most Engaged Brands on Twitter
Mastering Twitter can be tricky and most organizations are playing defense. They are playing an intense game without rules, where new players can arrive on the scene at any time, and where one mistake can set the organization back for months. But those that have mastered Twitter are creating extraordinary opportunities for their organizations and they include such juggernauts as Walt Disney, ESPN, NBA, MTV and NASA.
These companies and the 25 others listed below understand the power of engagement. In order to find them, Nestivity (a client of mine) asked InfiniGraph Co-founder Chase McMichael and Dr. Natalie Petouhoff to conduct the research, “The 30 day analysis is based on the InfiniGraph Engagement Analysis Platform, which compared the average number of re tweets (RT) per post from February 2nd to March 5th 2013, using proprietary algorithms for determining Twitter responses, content trend scores and clicks on links and other content,” McMichael told us.
But high engagement isn’t limited to the big companies.
Number 1 on the list @Notebook is owned by Branden Hampton of the Influential Media Group. Hampton serves as a sort of Zen master for brands that want high Twitter engagement. While most companies are struggling to create any sort of meaningful engagement on Twitter, Hampton has Twitter profiles that are outcompeting large brands with millions of customers. “Because we understand how to create engagement in our niche categories, we have a fitness page, that’s more engaged than Nike,” Hampton told me.
For me, in speaking by phone directly to 10 of the top 25, I’ve concluded that to create and maintain high engagement – you need to understand how to emotionally connect with your audience and to convey your industry’s message (and not your own business’s). In other words, be the Forbes of your industry while delivering relevant, P.T. Barnum-like content.
10 High Engagement Twitter Lessons from CNN, WWE, NASA, National Geographic, Arsenal, the NBA, MTV, Funny or Die
#1 “For us, data is the greatest and most important aspect of using Twitter properly. While the data can be fuzzy, it’s part of our social media decision making process around our programming,” Lila King, Senior Director for Social News told me. In fact they use the data to decide how to improve programing how to increase interactions.
#2 “Instead of the State of the Union, we created a “Tweet of the Union and built a database of members from the House and Senate,” King said. This clever social campaign connected brand CNN with the country’s most influential politicians and thus created a lot of buzz and Twitter engagement. Imagine how this can be done in your industry.
#3 Perkins Miller, EVP of Digital Media for WWE believes the brand must tell a story, “We’re in the business of telling stories, 52 weeks a year. When our talents get out there and our fans watch their stories, they just flock to Twitter to continue the conversation.” The WWE has figured out how to create engaging story lines and then encourage its talent to help enhance them with their audience. That’s something we can all learn to do.
National Geographic @NatGeo
#4 How can a 125 year old organization rank among the most engaging social brands? According to Robert Michael Murray Vice President, Social Media of National Geographic, “It’s not the fact that we’re a magazine brand. It’s the fact we’re born out of this idea of being a society. And we bring together people who are like minded around geography, who want to share and distribute knowledge.” In fact, Murray has learned that Twitter can be used to create a community around important scientific discoveries and causes. They use their content to raise the issues and they use Twitter to discuss them.
#5 According to John Yembrick, Social Media Manager at NASA they use influencers to create high engagement, “We try to engage influencers. We tweeted a happy birthday to Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy, engaged with Tom Hanks reliving the making of the film Apollo 13 and were also engaged and got retweeted by Justin Bieber (who has over 36 million followers).” Since Bieber has a large amount of young female followers, chances are some of them may be inspired to explore STEM careers. Most importantly, industry influencers can have a dramatic impact on your engagement levels. Learn how to work with them.
#6 For Arsenal it’s all about connecting fans to the teams and players. It’s also about monetization, “I would say that of course, if you reach and engage fans – that has long term financial benefit. But I’m primarily trying to connect with the people who love the Arsenal Football Club,” Richard Clarke, Managing Editor – Arsenal Media Group revealed to me.
#7 Content + social broadcasting are king and queen. At least Tom Fishman, Director of Social Media at MTV Social Networks thinks so. MTV creates a lot of content, and they like to amplify and then engage in discussions about it with their audience. “Twitter is massively important to achieve our objectives. We have a huge content machine around celebrity news, music and shows and Twitter is a great way to broadcast and follow up in engaging way,” Fishman said.
#8 Tell a great story and bring your partners along for the ride. Fishman explains, “Watch how Tom Shoes and Starbucks tell a story and drive emotion. It’s really a great strategy to how they add to the brand. They are just coffee and shoes, but we believe they are something more meaningful. Our advertisers are happy because we help them succeed by doing the same thing. We tell a story and include them in our story line.” That’s strategic partnering, that’s something we can all learn from.
#9 Patrick Starzan, VP of Marketing for Funny Or Die, “Twitter is part of our DNA — a major initiative to help us grow. When we think about what content we’ll publish, we ask, “Is this something people will laugh at? Giving people access helps them feel more a part of the Funnyor Die community – with behind the scenes pictures, and etc.” In other words, they understand their audience and connect and engage with them by making them laugh. They are keeping the brand promise alive by continuing to serve laughs via Twitter.
#10 Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, Senior Vice President, Marketing at National Basketball Association (NBA) told me it’s all about the fans and the players, “We want to include them in almost everything we do online.” What I found most unique (among their many campaigns) was their recognition of the best NBA Social Media Moments in 2012. The fans determined most of the awards by voting across several NBA social media sites. This type of engagement produces off the chart opportunities.
Why is Engagement Important?
While all of the top 25 most engaged brands have more than 1 million followers, 70 percent of the least engaged brands do too. This is to say that counting followers in an engagement exercise is pointless.
For me, Twitter engagement is like walking into a large convention hall and observing which organizations have the most people in their booth. These current and prospective customers are listening, are actively engaged or are sharing the organization’s discussions with their friends. In principle, this type of engagement demonstrates the effect the brand’s products, message or brand promise has on people.
Infinigraph has measured this engagement in digital form on Twitter. What’s important here is to understand that engagement has the potential for reduced costs and increased revenue. High engagement doesn’t necessarily mean higher revenue or reduced costs, but increases the likelihood substantially.