McCorkindale, Tina. (2012). Twitter me this, Twitter me that: A content analysis of the 40 best Twitter brands. Journal of New Communications Research 2011 Anthology, 43- 60.

Most public relations research about the microblog Twitter has focused on case studies—few quantitative analyses have been conducted. Of those, most research indicates organizational Twitter accounts failed to engage or build relationships with their publics. Therefore, the purpose of this paper was to conduct a content analysis to determine how Mashable’s “40 Best Twitter Brands” were using Twitter, and what makes these the “best” brands. A four-week period of tweets was constructed from a four-month sample in 2010 and analyzed in terms of usage and authenticity/transparency of the organizational tweeters.  While some organizations used Twitter only to disseminate information or for customer service, other organizations used the microblog to engage and build relationships with various publics. Those organizations who named the individual who managed the Twitter account engaged in more dialogue compared to those that did not. The paper also provided a list of 11 gold standard Twitter accounts, as well as suggestions for future research.

Method

Content analysis of four weeks of Mashable’s 40 best brands constructed from a four-month period in 2010

Key findings

1)      Close to half of the Twitter accounts named the person responsible for tweeting on behalf of the organization. These organizations had a significantly higher number of “in reply to” tweets indicating they were likely to engage in dialogue.

2)      Accounts that named the person responsible for tweeting had more total tweets than those with unlisted tweeters.

3)      There was variation in terms of how organizations used Twitter. Reasons included: customer service, dialogue with followers, answering questions, promotions/giveaways, social responsibility, and disseminating information.

4)      Nearly 25 percent of accounts (n=9) followed less than 20% of their number of followers, meaning they did not engage in reciprocal following.

5)      Eleven gold standard organizations were identified as models for building relationships through engagement with their followers.

Implications for practice

This study emphasizes the importance of engaging in dialogue and relationship building with Twitter followers. Organizations should disclose who is responsible for tweeting on behalf of the organization so the tweeters can talk to a person and not a faceless organization. In addition, naming the tweeter maintains transparency and authenticity, and shows more personality. Organizations who fail to engage in dialogue portray the organization as simply interested in disseminating information. Organizations should follow those who follow them (reciprocal following) so they can listen and understand their stakeholders, as well as draw insights.

Article Location

The full article is available for purchase at: http://sncr.org/node/495

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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