It’s no secret that to get the most out of social brands need to be willing to respond to other users, rather than just using it to push out dull marketing messages.

However a new report from Brandwatch shows that a quarter of the world’s major brands are still using Twitter as a broadcast channel rather than bothering to actively engage with consumers.

It could be a resource issue or simply that these companies don’t see any value in using Twitter to communicate with their customers, however brands like ASOS and Nike have shown the customer service value that can be derived from social media.

Twitter activity 

Of the 253 brands monitored, 97.6% brands tweeted, compared to 90% in 2012 and just 62% in 2011. More than half of these brands (145) tweeted 30 times per week or more.

It also became apparent to ensure customers can find a brand on the platform, the handle should be as close to the company name as possible.

How brands use Twitter

On the plus side the report shows that 69% of the world’s biggest brands are using Twitter for both broadcast and engagement, with companies such as @Notebook, @ESPN, @PlayStation and @Disney among the brands doing the most to engage with their audiences.

Overall, Twitter usage among the world’s biggest brands has been steadily increasing since 2011, up to 97% from just 62% two years ago.

The report also shows that the number of brands using multiple accounts has risen from 7% to 63% over the past three years.

As we’ve seen in our series of posts looking at how brands use social, many companies have one feed for marketing messages and company news, then a separate account for customer service.

Of the 253 brands included in the report, Dell has the most Twitter accounts (44), with each covering a different department.

Twitter profiles

Over the last three years there’s been some clear changes in the number of Twitter profiles per brand. It’s increased nine-fold (from 7% to 63%) over the last three years. In 2013, 63% of brands used multiple accounts, compared to 2012 where only 35% used several accounts.

A common use for these multiple accounts is to have one account that allows for engagement (customer service), and another for offers/company news. Dell has the most Twitter accounts (44), with each covering different departments.

Twitter Profiles

Community management team size

The average size of the team responsibility for Twitter was relatively similar in both the UK and the US. The maximum tweets per week for brands monitored in the US was 2,500, as opposed to just 113 tweets in the UK.

Some other key findings:

Team Size

Twitter platforms

Surprisingly most brands still tweet via the Twitter web interface or the second best option, Hootsuite – 20 of the top 100 used Hootsuite including H&M, Gap, Porsche and IBM. A third of all brands preferred to use just the one tool to publish tweets.

Tweeting through Twitter apps, such as iPhone apps, Twitterfeed and tweeting buttons, remained fairly popular for brands. There’s no surprise that as the popularity of social media grows, so do the number of platforms and tools. The most successful new entrants in the 2013 marketplace were Sprout Social and Conversocial.

Twitter Platforms

The secret to success on Twitter is… timing

Alongside the fact that more brands have joined Twitter, those using the network are also tweeting more than before.

In 2012, half of the monitored brands tweeted fewer than seven times per week. In 2013, half put out more than 30 messages a week.

US brands tend to be more active than their UK counterparts, tweeting 221 times per week on average compared to 30 times respectively. However simply making a lot of noise doesn’t necessarily translate into high levels of engagement.

The ten most prolific brands out of the top 100 most-followed brands on Twitter tweeted every six to 20 minutes, however none of them made the list of most engaged brands.

And finally, here’s a handy infographic of some of the key findings…

You can download the full Brandwatch Twitter report here.