Commentary

Are Certain Categories Just Better At Twitter?

As you’re getting organized for next week, remember this if you’re in charge of your company’s Twitter account(s): fire up that special tweet for Wednesday at 4 p.m. Central Time, and you may just be on your way to engagement most brands can only dream about.

That 4 p.m. CT on Wednesdays may be tweeting prime time for the most engaged brands on Twitter is just one interesting nugget in a study (downloadable here) put out this week that was commissioned by Nestivity,  and authored by Dr. Natalie Petouhoff. Using engagement analysis from Infinigraph, the study looked at the 100 brands with the most followers on Twitter, and then, out of that group, picked the 25 most engaging, as measured by user interaction, such as retweets, clicks on links embedded in tweets, and so forth.

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But one thing stood out to me that isn’t specifically highlighted in the study: the vast majority of the top 25 brands are in one of four categories: entertainment (Disney, #6), media (BBC Breaking News, #8), sports (ESPN, #3) and technology (Sony Playstation, #5). The brands that fell out of those categories largely dance around their edges. They are: NASA (#9), UNICEF (#21) and Chanel (#25).

Looking at the category skew brings up two chicken/egg questions that should be of huge interest to marketers: Are these types of brands just naturally more engaging? Or have these categories just gotten a head start on the kind of engagement we hope to see other categories eventually be able to achieve? It looks like a combination of both.

A sports brand, like ESPN, or Chelsea Football Club (#7), has an obvious wellspring of potential content, and content that followers believe is worth passing along. Who doesn’t want to tell the world how their football club is doing? The same certainly holds true for CNN Breaking News (#10), Funnyordie.com (#18) or virtually any other brand on the list.

But these brands also share similarities in what I would call their Twitter habits, and that’s where this study may be of particular interest to brands struggling to find their Twitter voice. The #1 and #2 brands -- Notebook of Love and Disneywords, both accounts from media companies, with a focus on pithy aphorisms -- post with extreme consistency, and that’s something that many of the other most engaging brands do as well.

More than three-fourths of the posts from the most engaging brands include photos, and another sizeable chunk link to videos. That’s no coincidence. And then there’s the time of day/time of week factoid that I used to kick off this column. Maybe these brands don’t have their tweets timed down to the millisecond, but they are obviously paying close attention to when people are most likely to engage with their content.

The most popular day of the week is, indeed, Wednesday, and the most popular time of day -- regardless of day -- is 4 p.m. CT; the most engaged brands are also pretty active on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, but not so much on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

To sum it up, the most engaged brands have great content and know how to use it. It’s worth asking yourself if the same can be said for your brand.

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