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Five Cool Things You Can Do By Analyzing Who People Follow on Twitter

By Gemma Joyce on November 9th 2017

Following an account can mean different things to different people.

Some people follow because they agree with an account’s views and enjoy their content. Others, although probably fewer, follow because they detest the account’s content but are nonetheless interested to see it. Others follow because the account provides an important service to them – it gives them news, provides information when things go wrong. Others follow simply because they hope for a follow back.

Who people follow can tell us interesting things about them and groups of followers of different accounts will often have patterns running through them (be they location, gender, interest, profession etc).

The React team has been using Brandwatch Audiences for a while now, and we wanted to share a selection of tricks we’ve come across using a small function in the tool – “Followers of”.A screenshot from the Audiences platform shows the demographic details of people who follow @Brandwatch, showing that our following has a high % of organization followers, and people who work in sales/marketing/pr.

The function, as the name suggests, allows you to search for and analyze the following of certain accounts. You can add multiple followings to each search or compare them separately depending on what you’d like to do with the data.

Here are some of the cool things “followers of” can help with.

1. Learn about who follows you

Let’s start with the basics.

Using “Followers of”, you can quickly see your most influential followers and the demographic breakdowns of your own following.

When you’re doing this, you might want to split it down further, breaking the audience down by specific locations or interests or adding additional search criteria, like people who tweet about your brand and don’t just follow.

A quick search for followers of @BW_React, Brandwatch’s pop culture and current affairs account, brought up our most influential followers and revealed that our followers were more likely to be interested in books than the average tweeter. That’s because the people who follow us are very smart.

A screenshot from the Audiences platform show the top three most influential followers of @BW_React - The Independent, Microsoft and Manchester City FC

2. Compare the demographics of different followings

Let’s say you want to compare your audience with one of a competitor. Are there any subtle differences in your followings that could lend clues as to how you might attract customers on the dark side?

To illustrate how Audiences does this, we compared followers of @Reebok with @Umbro to see if there were any major differences. We found that Umbro followers were way more interested in sports than Reebok fans (in fact, they were far more likely to have “Football” in their bios) while Reebok fans are more concerned with beauty and health.

This is a simple example, of course, and is easy to replicate in your own Audiences dashboards.

A chart shows the interests of Reebok and Umbro followers compared against each other and the Twitter average. Umbro followers are way more interested in sports, while Reebok followers care more about health and beauty. Both sets of followers are less interested in video games than the average tweeter.


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3. Find out what news outlets your audience follows

We’ve covered the basics. Now here’s where it gets more interesting.

With the ability to search for multiple follower sets, its easy to look at people who follow your account as well as others. If you want to know where your customers get their news you can run a search for followers of your account as well as different news outlet accounts and work out what percentage are following outlets across a range of political stances.

Here’s an example we we compared followers of fast food brands with major news outlets, finding Chick-fil-A fans were more likely than any of the others to follow FOX News.

A bar chart shows the followings of different fast food restaurants and how they cross over with different news outlets. NY Times and CNN have the largest followings in each of the sets, but Chick-fil-A customers are particularly keen on FOX News

You can check out the full analysis (we also look at fashion brands) here.

4. Find people who follow your competitors but not you (and be ready)

Let’s get competitive.

Audiences is a great tool for social selling on Twitter. Instead of starting with your own followers, start with your competitors’ and work out who’s following them while excluding those who follow you. Maybe this competitor has more followers, maybe they’ve got less – either way, the people in the remaining list are in the market for what you’re selling and they’re not paying you any attention.

Here’s a simple example, showing people who follow McDonald’s but don’t follow KFC. That’s a solid 2.5 million, including some of the biggest names on Twitter.

Justin Bieber and NFL appear as accounts that follow McDonalds but not KFC (along with 2.5 million other authors)

Whether you’re working with an audience this size or (more likely) a lot smaller than the above, this list offers you some prime opportunities.

Firstly, why not set up a campaign targeting these followers to raise awareness of your own brand and what it offers on social. Make sure you show how you’re different to and better than the competitors’ followers you’re targeting. We recently integrated a Twitter Ads button into Audiences, making it easy to take an audience from the platform and start setting up promotions directed at them. If you’re looking to attract customers from specific brands, searching for people who follow their support or customer service accounts might give you a more focused list to target.

Secondly, you can set up lists of accounts that follow your competitors but not you and transfer them into Brandwatch Analytics. Now you can check out what kind of things they’re talking about more closely and set up custom alerts that will notify you when any of them complain about their current supplier in whatever industry you’re working in. That’s when you can get involved and educate them on your superior service.


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5. Examine how an influential person affects a following

As a random experiment earlier this year we decided to see how many people Harry Styles had attracted to the Dunkirk Movie.

We searched for followers of Dunkirk Movie on Twitter, then checked how many people followed both Harry Styles and the Dunkirk Movie. It turns out he had a very big impact.

 

A pie chart shows that 74% of people who follow @DunkirkMovie also follow Harry Styles

Perhaps you’re struggling to choose between a group of influencers to work with. Depending on what outcomes you’d like, influencers who share a large chunk of your audience might not get you many new eyes. On the other hand they might also have a group of followers who don’t follow you yet but you’d desperately like them to. This handy trick could help you out.

So much data to play with

Brandwatch Audiences is still a fairly new part of the Brandwatch range of products, but with a bit of experimenting it has so much to offer.

Like what you’ve heard here? Why not give Audiences a try.


Want to know what else you can do with Twitter data?

Yeah you do.

Read the report

Gemma Joyce

@GLJoyce

Gemma is the social data journalist heading up Brandwatch React. As well as being first with pop culture news, Gemma loves pizza, politics, and Angry Birds.