Why we follow brands on Facebook and Twitter

In April this year, I conducted the fifth annual survey of Swedish bloggers and blog readers. The survey called BlogSweden 5, included a total of 2,251 respondents, out of which  94% had at least one blog. One of the new questions this year was about why people choose to follow brands on Twitter and become a fan, or like, brands on Facebook.

Last year Razorfish surveyed 1,000 “connected consumers” about, among other things, why they “friended” brands or followed them on Twitter. The responses indicated that the primary reason was to get exclusive deals or offerings. The respondents in my survey also included internet users under the age of 18 and over 55, which the Razorfish study did not.

The most common response to why people become friends with or follow a brand on Twitter or Facebook is “To show other people that I like the brand”. I had expected that more tangible benefits such as getting exclusive information or promotions, would be the most common responses. Then again, we use brands to create or strenghten our identity and showing our support for a brand on Facebook might just play the same role as wearing it on a T-shirt. It tells others about who we are. Remember what Jack Trout wrote:

“People want to express themselves through brands – brands express a person’s personality and the people they like to be with.

why we follow brans on Facebook and Twitter

But we also follow brands on Twitter or Facebook to get deals or information before other people. Although the feeling of exclusivity might get lost if you are one of a million fans of the same brand, it still is a very good sign for marketers. The responses suggest that people who follow your brand on social media are already loyal customers or are interested in becoming customers.

Consumers are telling brands that they wamt to buy from you and they want to get more information about your company and products. So marketers should take note and start using social media as channels for building engagement among key audiences.

A third (32.2%) of the respondents in the survey had not become a fan of or followed a brand on Twitter or Facebook.

Top five social media risks for businesses

Earlier today I blogged about the trend that brands get hijacked on Twitter. A report released today by ISACA confirms that this is a major risk for businesses. The white paper outlines five major social media risks for business and “brand hijacking” is one of them. Top five risks are:

  • Viruses/malware
  • Brand hijacking
  • Lack of control over content
  • Unrealistic customer expectations of “Internet-speed” service
  • Non-compliance with record management regulations

The full white paper Social Media:  Business Benefits and Security, Governance and Assurance Perspectives” can be downloaded here. [pdf]

Brand-jacking on Twitter new challenge for PR

As if BP didn’t have enough problems in the aftermath of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the sarcastic tweets from the not-so-official Twitter account @BPGlobalPR has taken the twitterverse by storm. And not only has the person behind the account attracted 130,000 followers, he has also spawned a number of copy cats and started something of a trend. After the Israeli attack on the Flotilla convoy a few days ago, two similar Twitter accounts soon appeared – @IsraelGlobalPR  and @HamasGlobalPR – both using fake Twitter handles to try to influence the opinion.

Of course, it doesn’t end there. Meet @PunchTavernPR, the unofficial Twitter channel for the UK pub group Punch Taverns. It was launched after an incident on Saturday afternoon, when a group from the LGBT Labour Annual General Meeting was turned away from the Greencoat Boy pub in central London, a pub owned by Punch Taverns. The group of around 100 people were allegedly refused service by the manager because they were gay. It didn’t take long before people started to voice their opinions on social media channels, primarily on Twitter. According to the Guardian, the flood of tweets started after @LGBTLabour tweeted about it.

The hashtag #Greencoatboy soon became a trending topic in the UK and other tags that were used were for example #bigotbar and #boycottpunch. Articles about the incident were among the most read on BBC’s website yesterday.

On top of that, someone started the fake Twitter account PunchTavernPR, spewing out tweets like this one:


The negative publicity in both traditional media and social media forced Punch Taverns to apologize in a statement on Sunday.

Brands have been hijacked on Twitter for a long time, remember the fake corporate Twitter account from Exxon Mobil in 2008? But now the blow more often seems to be directed specifically towards corporate public relations in what I can only describe as the digital equivalent to preemtive strike. What better way to get the opposing side in a conflict look bad than to mock the PR departement with silly jokes and ironic remarks? It can be very tricky to defend yourself against humor.

But all in all, this is not a good sign for PR. I get the feeling that this trend has emerged because people are sick of bad public relations efforts during crisis situations. It’s still all too common that when a corporation or an organization is facing a real crisis, it is slow to respond and when it does act, it uses half-truths and stonewalling tactics.

Perhaps it is a wake up-call for corporate PR. My advice would be to study this trend carefully and think through, what would our company do if we got brandjacked on Twitter in a crisis? It’s not an easy task to deal with.

Related about “Twitterjacking”: Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Twitter.

Top 20 Swedish brands on Twitter

Last weekend I decided to take a deeper look at my list of Swedish brands and businesses on Twitter and see which companies have the most followers. After publishing the list on my Swedish blog “Sociala Medier”, I got some feedback from companies that weren’t on the list. Although this list may still not include every corporate Twitter account in Sweden, here is a pretty good list of the top 20 Swedish businesses on Twitter, based on the number of followers.

1. Spotify – 36020
2. Stardoll – 32252
3. H&M; – 28583
4. Adland – 14551
5. Acne – 5963
6. Ericsson Labs – 4616
7. The Duffy Agency – 4518
8. Propellerhead Software – 3071
9. SJ AB – 2745
10. Sony Ericsson DW – 2719
11. SAS – 2676
12. Ericsson – 2614
13. H&M News – 2309
14. Twingly – 2281
15. Ishotellet Jukkasjärvi – 1940
16. Pacemaker – 1583
17. SAS Group – 1495
18. SF BIO – 1492
19. Piratförlaget – 1478
20. Saltå Kvarn – 1396

Among the top three, H&M; is the account that has the fastest growth in followers, with on average 113 new followers per day during the last 3 months (according to TwitterCounter). Spotify gets 83 and Stardoll 85 new followers per day.

Footnote: Number of followers calculated on March 13, 2010. Follow me on Twitter at @kullin.

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How to brand your tweets with TweetBrand

Every tweet you post on Twitter comes with a line that states what time it was published and what application you used to tweet (TweetDeck, Tweetie etc, or the Twitter site). Now there is a free application that lets you hack this line and brand it with your own information. With TweetBrand you can brand your tweets with the name of your company, your blog or whatever you want it to say. And not only that, you can link it directly to any landing page you choose.

I tried TweetBrand and it seems to work perfectly (so far). The tweet below is branded with the name of my blog (Media Culpa) and has a link to the blog.


You can name your “application” anything, as long as no-one else has taken that name. Once your app is installed and you have downloaded the software, you get this little screen to tweet from. You may use it to run several Twitter accounts, which I guess is pretty neat.


Although this is a cool app, I don’t see myself using it very frequently, but I will continue to experiment with it and see if it drives any traffic to my blog.

According to Tammy from TweetBrand, this is just the free “lite” version and a main service will be launched soon with more functionality.

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Social media dominates Google search results for Brand Me

In February I blogged about taking control over Brand You online and especially in terms of how your name appears in a Google search. I concluded that my blog and other social media properties that I use ranked high in a search for “Hans Kullin” on Google. The top ten results for my name on Google.se in February were:

1. The “About me” page on this blog
2. This blog

3. Blog posts tagged with my name on www.s-bloggar.se
4. Blog posts tagged with my name on mindpark.se
5. Blog post at fyranyanser.se with my name in the headline
6. My profile page on profsweden.ning.com
7. Blog post at bisonblog.blogs.com/blog with my name in the headline
8. My page at micro blog service bloggy.se
9. My page at micro blog service jaiku.com

10. Blog posts tagged with my name on sv.wordpress.com

I was more or less in control of results number 1, 2, 6, 8 and 9, with Media Culpa claiming the two top spots.

A few weeks later, in March 2009, I launched a Swedish language blog called Sociala Medier (“Social Media” in Swedish) on a very good domain: www.socialamedier.com. In spite of being active less than a year, that blog (which is built on WordPress) is already among the very top results.

Top ten today are:

1. The “About me” page on this blog
2. This blog
3. My Swedish blog Sociala Medier
4. My page on Twitter
5. My profile page on profsweden.ning.com
6. My page at micro blog service bloggy.se

7. Article about me in Dagens Media
8. Article about me in Resumé
9. Article about me in Medievärlden
10. Blog post at techrisk.se tagged with my name

I now “control” results 1-6, which is an improvement in only 11 months. My Twitter page has moved up to #4, while my Jaiku page is no longer among the top results. Back then, the first traditional media link was at #16, but now there are three in the top ten. It’s clear that blog posts and articles in online media that have my name in the title, tend to rank high.

Other social media properties that rank high are my FriendFeed page and the LinkedIn page, both in top 20, but there are still no links in the top 30 results to me on Facebook.

I wonder if there is an “easy” way to get hold of the remaining top ten spots without starting a third blog. Let’s see in 12 months what the status is.

Update: Results slightly adjusted.

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