It used to be that social media marketing was the domain of small businesses and info-marketers. Since posting to social media was free, it was a great way for small businesses to get the word out, while the bigger businesses stood back waiting to see how the market shaped up.
A lot has changed since those early days. According to a study from social media analytics company Simply Measured, 98 percent of top brands are on Twitter with the majority of those brands tweeting at least once a day. Likewise, audiences grew 20 percent in Q4 2013, indicating that consumers are choosing to connect with and receive brand messages, the study says.
The study, which compared global brands to the Forbes 100 Small-Businesses, found that 58 percent of the global brands have more than 100,000 followers — 17 percent have audiences of more than 1 million. Smaller companies seem to have difficulty breaking through that 100k mark. Only three percent have more than 50,000 followers. Nine percent have 10,000 and 17 percent have 5,000 followers.
While 92 percent of the global brands tweeted at least once a day, less than half of the small businesses tweeted at the same volume, according to the study. However, the study did note that 42 percent of all brands tweeted one to five times a day, much of which included engagement in the form of @replies to audience members.
The study includes a footnoted lesson: “It’s important to note that the majority of the high-volume Interbrand accounts are tweeting @replies and engaging with their audience on a 1-on-1 basis. Smaller brands with less inbound activity don’t have a need for that volume of outbound tweets, but can certainly be more responsive to mentions and retweets.”
So those bigger brands have to work harder to engage with those bigger audiences. Still, the bigger the audience, the smaller the engagement distribution. For companies with less than 10,000 followers, the brand averaged a 40 percent audience engagement rate. For companies with 750,000 followers or more the engagement dropped as low as three percent.
Not surprising, visual content generates higher engagement rates. In fact, according to the study, tweets with both images and a link result in 150 percent higher engagement than those without a link. “Tweets without links underperform; users don’t get what they expect from a brand that they follow,” the study says.
Ultimately, the big draw for brands using Twitter is the network’s amplification power. Indeed, 84 percent of the post engagement happens in the form of retweets. When compared to Facebook, a meager 10 percent of content is actually shared, versus 90 percent being simply “liked,” according to the study.
In truth, smaller brands probably don’t have the bandwidth to handle the volume of tweets or engagement that global brands deal with. However, “over-tweeting” can also result in audience disengagement. In the end, it’s all about finding the right balance of brand messaging to audience engagement.
Featured image credit: floeschie