German companies take to Twitter

10 September 2009

BERLIN: A large number of Germany's biggest companies have established a presence on Twitter, the microblogging service, but they are currently displaying varied strategies as they seek to communicate with consumers via this platform.

Zucker.Kommunikation, the PR agency, and Blatterwald, the research firm, analysed the activity of 60 major corporations, in order to assess how they were utilising the social messaging service. 

Overall, they argued "German companies are far more active on Twitter than is generally assumed. Obviously, Twitter is being taken seriously as a new channel for communications."

More specifically, it found that 77% of companies listed on the national stock exchange, including major global operators like Siemens, Bayer and Volkswagen, were employing the rapidly-growing portal as a medium through which to make contact with their customers.

Some 51% of "tweets" from its entire sample took the form of general discussion, with 32% being defined as "news", and 17% essentially acting as a form of advertising.

Among the organisations on the DAX, 39% of posts were "dialogue", compared with 32% providing information, and 30% which were marketing-related.

Across all companies, including the local arms of a range of multinational corporations, the typical firm had 661 "followers", was tracking the feeds of 350 accounts, and made a total of 13 posts a week.

For those present on the DAX, the mean number of "followers" rose slightly, to 673, but they were following slightly fewer users, at 238 in all, and made 17 posts a week.

Daimler, the automaker, recorded the highest number of "tweets" among this group, with 101 entries over three separate accounts, as well as having almost 3,000 followers, and signing up as a "fan" of nearly as many users.

Deutsche Telekom, the telecoms company, made 71 tweets across its brand, video-sharing and commercial feeds over the period under assessment, had more than 800 followers, and was linked to 700 other members.

In terms of the largest number of followers, however, Lufthansa, the airline, boasted a total of 5,381, despite the fact it followed just 45 people, and made only 13 posts a week.

One area in which companies were said to be under-performing was in the "anonymous" nature of their profiles, with more than eight in ten, including Allianz and Deutsche Telekom, adding few specific details to their corporate accounts.

Matthias Bonjer, of Zucker.Kommunikation, argued "the frequent occurrence of anonymous senders, a lack of subject focus of the tweets, and the naming of entire departments as the sender are all clear indicators of this."

"Furthermore, in very few of the cases that we studied was Twitter dialogue being handled by customer service departments. There is no clear guideline on just who is responsible for Twitter at the majority of companies," he added.

Data sourced from Zucker.Kommunikation; additional content by WARC staff