Last month, we did an analysis of employee advocacy in the UK by analyzing the activity of 50 large companies’ employees on Twitter. Both from that analysis, as well as from our experience, we observed that tech companies have some of the most engaged employees on Twitter. This is not surprising for a host of reasons, ranging from social media savviness to overall engagement of tech employees.
For starters, the fact that Twitter is still not as mainstream as other platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, means that technology workers have a disproportionate representation on Twitter. Also, technology companies are doing very well in top employers rankings, so their employees are both proud about their workplace, and happy to share about it.
Finally, the best way of identifying employees on Twitter is through their bio, so people from other industries (like retail) might not mention the company they work for in the bio. This would result in undercounting employee accounts for those companies.
To understand what makes tech companies so active and visible on Twitter, we decided to study as many of them as possible.
We made a selection of 60 large companies (the smallest one has 3,200 employees, but most of them have more than 5,000 employees). We only included companies for which we were able to find at least 50 employees.
We aimed to cover a large variety of markets, from consumer internet to hardware. We assigned many companies to a sub-industry, but not all of them. Finally, we’ve covered tech companies from across the globe, with a majority (more than two thirds), being based in the US.
For the 60 companies included in the study, we found almost 50,000 employee accounts. We captured all their tweets in the month December in order to find out how many and how often employees are talking about the brand. This post will show aggregated stats, but if you want to see details for each company, please visit our public leaderboard.
Having a wide range of technology companies, quite different from each other, we split them into 7 subindustries in order to see if there are any similarities across them. These are: Gaming, Internet, Software, Hardware, Networking, Storage, Semiconductors. The table below shows the average stats for each industry.
|Industry||Twitter Employees||% On Twitter||Active||Followers||Tweets||About Brand||Retweets|
The differences between the subindustries in several measures are startling. For example, more than 6.5% of employees in gaming companies are on Twitter. For software employees, the presence is 4.5%. But if we look at semiconductors and networking companies, the number is less than 1%.
For hardware, it’s even lower, at barely a third of a percent. There are several factors that explain this. First, gaming and software companies have much fewer employees on average (7,399 and 25,238, respectively) than networking and hardware companies (70,758 and 140,544, respectively). Second, software and gaming employees have more employees working in development, marketing, or sales – functions that have a bigger Twitter presence than factory workers.
Finally, software and gaming companies have a larger percentage of the employees based in the US and Western Europe than hardware companies.
If we look at other measures, big differences remain. The percentage of tweets about the brand varies from 5% in gaming to 28% in storage. Also, the number of retweets for each tweet varies from 0.20 (networking) to 1.75 (Internet companies).
However, there are several measures which are remarkably consistent across the industries. The number of active employees in December is between 38% (in hardware) and 48% (in gaming). The number of tweets for each active user is around 1 / day for all industries except gaming. Finally, for every industry that we analyzed, tweets about the brand generate more retweets than the other tweets.
After better understanding how different industries affect the activity of technology employees on Twitter, we want to go at a more granular level and see which companies are doing well in some of our key measures.
We won’t focus too much on the top companies by the number of followers, even if this is an important metric on Twitter. This is because the totals of top companies by this measure is influenced either by a CEO (Tim Cook at Apple), or a celebrity (Jeremy Clarkson at Amazon), or both in the case of Yahoo. So this number doesn’t really say much about the average employee, and is not the result of employee advocacy programs or efforts.
A more useful measure related to followers is the median number of followers, which shows. This number means that half of the employees have less than (or equal) that followers, while half have more followers (or equal). We chose this metric instead of average followers because it cannot be influenced by the outliers with a lot of followers. Below you will see the top 5 companies by median followers. All of them are well known brands with engaged employees. Activision Blizzard gains an edge because it is a gaming company and it has a relatively low number of employee accounts (283).
Percentage of Employees on Twitter
This is one of the most important measure that we are able to provide for employees on Twitter. The reason is that it gives an idea of how well we are able to cover a specific company’s workforce. Of course, Twitter doesn’t have such a large penetration as Facebook, and many people choose not to mention the company they work for in their Twitter bio. This limits our coverage, but we are still able to find hundreds or thousands of employees for each company.
There are only five companies for which we found more than 10% of employees on Twitter: Salesforce, Adobe, EA, Intuit and Rackspace. They have several things in common: well known and highly visible brands, relatively small workforces (between 6,000 and 16,000), and engaged employees. Also, at least 4 of the companies in this list have deployed formal employee advocacy programs.
When it comes to top companies by active ambassadors (employees that are mentioning the brand on Twitter) the situation changes. We have a few expected names (IBM, EMC and Sage), but the first 2 positions are occupied by Dassault Systemes and CA.
While their presence at the top is surprising, they are both software companies. Also, this ranking is based on relative numbers (percentage of tweets about the brand). So, for example, even if Dassault is first, it has only 339 brand tweets, compared to 3,556 at Adobe, which is not in the top 5.
The numbers of retweets per tweet incurs significant changes from month to month, as it can be influenced by a single account, or even a single tweet.
In the cases of Amazon and Samsung, their positions at the top are influenced by Jeremy Clarkson (who has consistently high numbers of retweets for each tweet), and by Tansu Yegen, respectively (VP for Samsung in Istanbul). Similarly, for Hitachi, the majority of retweets were driven by a single account (@richrogershds), with a single tweet garnering about a third of the month’s total. The more employee accounts a company has, the more difficult is for a single account to make a difference.
Examples of brand-related tweets
After looking at employee activity on Twitter from the numbers perspective, we wanted to have an on-the-ground view by looking at some popular tweets shared by employees. For this exercise, we looked at the most popular tweets by employees that have less than 10,000 followers. We chose this threshold because we wanted to exclude CEOs and celebrity employees, in order to get through to regular employees. We chose popular tweets based on the number of retweets they had. Below, we have selected 3 brand-related tweets that are among the most popular in December by this measure.
While we won’t speculate why these particular posts gained so much traction (we’ll leave this for a future blog post), one thing that all of them have in common is that they have media attached: one has a SlideShare presentation (extracted automatically from the URL in the tweet), while the other two have pictures, which were added by the user (not extracted automatically). The SlideShare presentation represents content created by the company, while the two pictures represent user-generated content (one of them is a screenshot).
A strategist at CA shares a company presentation about agile development
A community manager for EA shows a visual metaphor for playing Mass Effect
The lead producer for Minecraft (part of Microsoft) announces the release of Minecraft for Wii in the UK
In this article we tried to provide a better understanding of how and in what way tech companies’ employees are active on Twitter. The focus of this study is employee advocacy, so we aimed to offer insights across different tech companies in different verticals. We’ve measured employee presence on Twitter, how many of them are active in a month (December 2015 in our case), how many tweets they post and how many of them mention the brand. We’ve also looked at the engagement they generate by counting retweets.
We’ve learned that while some metrics are differing greatly across industries (like employee presence or median followers), others are relatively constant (like percentage of active employees). We’ve also learned that, for each industry, employees generated more engagement for their brand-related tweets than for their other tweets. Finally, we highlighted some of the companies with very engaged employees, and we highlighted a few successful tweets coming from regular employees.
Don’t forget to check our tech companies leaderboard regularly to see updated monthly numbers for each company in the study. Also, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want a more detailed analysis of your company’s employee activity on Twitter. We can provide a detailed analysis for any company, not just those included in the current study.