Report

The Brand Follower Report

What can PR, content, and influencer managers learn by studying the things that make their brand's following unique?

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It’s easy to lump fans of certain things together. Car lovers, techies – they’re all pretty similar, right?

That was a hypothesis we wanted to test with some analysis into the followings of 12 major brands, spanning four huge industries. 

Are all fast food fans the same, or could brand affiliation tell us something about their characteristics? If so, what could that brand learn about their audience that could help them differentiate themselves and make marketing decisions?

In total we studied the Tweets and following patterns of more than 13 million Twitter authors across the followings of brands like Apple, Tesla, Wendy’s, and Nike to see what makes each of their audiences unique.

We break up our analysis into takeaways for content, influencer, and PR managers working in the sports apparel, automotive, fast food, and consumer tech industries.

Essentially, we look to answer the following questions:

For any notes on how we conducted our research, please check out the methodology.

Sports apparel

Industry overview

We studied the followings of Nike, adidas, and Under Armour to see what made each of them unique.

To begin with, we wanted to see how followings cross over between the brands.

The biggest affinity between follower groups is between adidas and Nike with an incredible 67% of adidas followers also following Nike.

Meanwhile, while UnderArmour has a smaller following, it seems a little more independent of the others – it’s carved out its own niche.

Insights for content managers

When we looked at the social media site links being shared most on Twitter by followers of Nike, adidas and Under Armour, we found that:

  • Instagram, LinkedIn and Vine were shared disproportionately more by Nike followers
  • Facebook and Pinterest were shared disproportionately more by adidas followers
  • Tiktok and Reddit were shared disproportionately more by Under Armour followers

Looking at this information, content managers can understand a little more about the platforms they might be under-using.

Insights for influencer managers

Looking at the top 100 most influential accounts influencing the followers of Nike, adidas, and Under Armour followers, we found that:

  • Nike followers were most receptive to entertainment stars
  • adidas followers were more likely than Nike or UnderArmour followers to be influenced by internet personalities like @pewdiepie and @JeffreeStar
  • Under Armour had the most politicians and sports stars amongst their most influential 100 accounts

You can take this one of two ways – either engage more with the influencers your audience are most receptive to, or engage more with influencers that reach people outside of your audience in order to broaden your reach.

Insights for PR managers

Here we take a look at the kinds of news sites audiences share from as well as the issues they care about. This can be helpful for brands planning to take a stance on a particular issue – will it go down well with your audience to align with a particular ‘side’?

Looking at the causes and news types our sports apparel follower sets shared stories about, we found that:

  • Nike followers are most likely of the three brands to share from liberal news sites
  • Under Armour followers were more likely than adidas or Nike followers to share news from conservative sites, although most of their shares were for liberal sites
  • When it comes to politically charged issues, all three brands’ followers tweeted most about women’s and minority rights, although Under Armour followers were more likely than adidas or Nike followers to Tweet about the environment or animal rights

One good example here is Nike’s following tweeting most about minority rights as well as sharing most from liberal news sites. This sets them up as the most likely of the three to successfully align with an issue that fits with this, which is exactly what they did with their famous Colin Kapaernick commercial.

Automotive

Industry overview

We studied the followings of Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, and Jeep to see what made each of them unique.

Looking at crossovers between followings, Jeep and Mercedes-Benz have the largest connection, while Tesla has comparatively little crossover with the two brands.

Only a tiny fraction of all their followers follow all three accounts – much smaller than we saw in sports apparel above. This might suggest that car brands are a little better at fostering loyalty within their customer groups than other industries, with consumers following one brand instead of following a selection (although this is obviously a small scale study).

Insights for content managers

When we looked at the social media site links being shared most on Twitter by followers of Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, and Jeep, we found that:

  • Tumblr, Reddit and Tiktok were shared disproportionately more by Tesla followers
  • Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn were shared disproportionately more by Mercedes-Benz followers
  • Vine, Swarmapp and Pinterest links were shared disproportionately more by Jeep followers

Looking at this information, content managers can understand a little more about the platforms they might be under-using.

If you’re a content manager looking for a new format, this is a great way to see what your audience might engage with most. While Mercedes-Benz followers seem pretty enamored with the more traditional sites, Jeep and Tesla followers seem open to new and different platforms that might extend beyond a content marketer’s usual format.

Insights for influencer managers

Looking at the top 100 most influential accounts influencing followers of Tesla, Mercedes-Benz and Jeep followers, we found that:

  • Tesla followers were most likely to be influenced by journalists and politicians
  • Mercedes-Benz followers were influenced more than the other brands by entertainers, sports stars, and professionals (e.g. business people, like Elon Musk)
  • Jeep followers had the most internet personalities in their top 100 influencers.

You can take these insights one of two ways – either engage more with the influencers your audience are most receptive to, or engage more with influencers that reach people outside of your audience in order to broaden your reach.

Insights for PR managers

Looking at the causes and news types our automotive follower sets shared stories about, we found that:

  • Tesla followers were most likely to share news from liberal news sites
  • Jeep followers shared the highest % of news from conservative news sites, although most of their shares were from liberal sites.
  • Tesla followers were more likely to Tweet about minority/women’s rights, animal rights and the environment than Mercedes or Jeep followers

Tesla followers are definitely the most likely to get involved in politically charged issues, which makes some sense given Tesla’s green goals. That said, perhaps the company could be taking a more prominent stand on the big issues of the day. It seems like their audience would be open to it.

Fast food

Industry overview

We studied the followings of McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s to see what made each of them unique.

The biggest affinity between the follower groups appears to be between Burger King and Wendy’s, with 39% of Burger King’s followers also following Wendy’s.

To aim for a presence more like Wendy’s, which is behind one of the most retweeted Tweets of all time and is widely reputed as one of the best brands on Twitter, would be a lofty but smart goal for the more corporate fast food chains.

Insights for content managers

When we looked at the social media site links being shared most on Twitter by followers of Wendy’s, Burger King, and McDonald’s, we found that:

  • Tumblr, Reddit, and Vine links were shared disproportionately more by Wendy’s followers
  • Facebook and Tiktok links were shared disproportionately more by BurgerKing followers
  • Instagram and Pinterest links were shared disproportionately more by McDonald’s followers

Looking at this information, content managers can understand a little more about the platforms they might be under-using.

McDonald’s followers seem most interested in visual formats like those on Instagram and Pinterest, while Wendy’s followers seem more drawn to humour.

Meanwhile, Tiktok could present interesting possibilities for Burger King.

Insights for influencer managers

Looking at the top 100 most influential accounts influencing followers of McDonalds, BurgerKing, and Wendy’s followers, we found that:

  • McDonald’s followers were most likely to be influenced by politicians
  • Burger King followers were most likely to be influenced by entertainment stars
  • Wendy’s followers were most likely to be influenced by journalists and internet personalities

You can take these insights one of two ways – either engage more with the influencers your audience are most receptive to, or engage more with influencers that reach people outside of your audience in order to broaden your reach.

Insights for PR managers

Examining the news sources and issues the three audiences Tweet about, we found that:

  • Wendy’s followers were most likely to Tweet about politically charged issues
  • McDonald’s followers were least likely of all the to Tweet about all the issues we searched for (minority and womens’ rights, animal rights and the environment)
  • McDonald’s followers were most likely of the three to share news from conservative news sites, while Wendy’s followers were most likely of the three to share from liberal sites.

Of all the three sites, Wendy’s seems best placed to take a stance on a controversial societal issue, while McDonald’s followers may be less open to it.

Consumer tech

Industry overview

We studied the followings of Samsung, Apple, and Microsoft to see what made each of them unique.

Samsung followers were more likely to also follow Microsoft than also follow Apple, and the crossover between giants Microsoft and Apple is surprisingly small.

The likelihood of following all three is very small, much like in our automotive research above.

Insights for content managers

Content managers searching for a new platform will find these insights helpful.

When we looked at the social media site links being shared most on Twitter by followers of Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft, we found that:

  • Links from Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn were shared disproportionately more by Apple followers
  • Links from Reddit and TikTok were shared disproportionately more by Samsung followers
  • Links from Vine, Tumblr and Pinterest were shared disproportionately more by Microsoft followers

Looking at this information, content managers can understand a little more about the platforms they might be under-using.

Apple followers seem to be pretty hot on the more traditional social media sites, while Microsoft and Samsung followers seem drawn to what might be called the more ‘niche’ sites, like TikTok and Vine.

Insights for influencer managers

Looking at the top 100 most influential accounts influencing followers of Samsung, Apple and Microsoft followers, we found that:

  • Apple followers were most likely to be influenced by internet personalities and entertainment stars
  • Samsung followers were most likely to be influenced by professionals (e.g. Elon Musk) and journalists
  • Microsoft followers were most likely to be influenced by politicians

You can take these insights one of two ways – either engage more with the influencers your audience are most receptive to, or engage more with influencers that reach people outside of your audience in order to broaden your reach.

Insights for PR managers

Examining the news sources and issues the three audiences Tweet about, we found that:

  • All three brands were more likely to share links from liberal news sites than conservative sites
  • Apple followers were the most likely to Tweet links from liberal news sites
  • Microsoft followers were most likely of the brands to Tweet links from conservative news sites (although most were from liberal sites)
  • Samsung followers were the most engaged in societal issues like animal rights, minority and women’s rights and the environment.

Samsung seems best placed to take a stance on one of these issues, although they might wish to research how their audience feels about them before proceeding.

After word

As detailed above, almost every audience is different in its own way and each brand’s following has different preferences, make-ups and behaviors.

One of the most exciting things about the above insights is that they can be actioned either-way. To expand on the audience you have, it might be worth reaching beyond where they like to hang out and to work with influencers or sites that your competitors’ audiences prefer. Meanwhile, if you’d like to get a message out loud and clear to your supporters, you can use research like this to find out exactly where it could resonate most.

Methodology

Industry audience overview:

For this report we used Brandwatch Audiences, which allows you to search through a database of over 450m Twitter users.  You can search by keywords in bio or recent Tweets, interests, professions, demographics, and the followers of any Twitter account and then create reports on the people in these audiences and what they’re talking about.

To create the industry audience overviews we found the number of people following all the brands, two of the brands or one of the brands using Audiences. Note: Audiences only contains Twitter users who are in the Audiences database. This database is built by looking at the Twitter decahose, a 10% sample of all Tweets and has been tracking since April 2015. So followers who haven’t tweeted, or tweeted very rarely, since 2015 may not be included in these insights.

Insights for content managers

To understand which social networks might be disproportionately popular with the followers of each brand we use Brandwatch Audiences to study all the Tweets by followers over a period of 30 days to see how often these sites have been linked to (including shortened urls).

Audiences gives a ‘relevance score’ out of 100 for sites linked to by studying the volume of links shared by members of the audience and comparing this to all Twitter users. A higher score indicates a higher percentage of these people are sharing links compared to the average.

Insights for influencer managers

For each brand following we looked at Tweets over a 30 day period and identified the top 100 individual accounts that were most mentioned, retweeted, or replied to by that group of people. We then categorized these influencers as either:

  • Internet Personalities: Bloggers, vloggers or other people primarily popular for their social posts
  • Entertainers: Well known musicians, actors, comedians etc
  • Professionals: Businesspeople, lawyers, doctors etc
  • Journalists
  • Politicians

Insights for PR managers

We looked at how often groups of followers had shared links to top sites considered to be more right or left leaning. We then calculated a percentage conservative vs liberal from these two totals in order to compare the audiences.

For the political issues we calculated how many of each audience’s active users had used a hashtag in the last three months that was connected to a particular issue. (Eg #MeToo, #GoVegan)

Crimson Hexagon has merged with Brandwatch. You’re in the right place!

From May 8th, all Crimson Hexagon products are now on the Brandwatch website. You’ll find them under ‘Products’ in the navigation. If you’re an existing customer and you want to know more, your account manager will be happy to help.