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Samantha Noble

55%* of Brands Have Not Secured Their Twitter Handle

20th Nov 2012 Brand 8 minutes to read

* Now that I have your attention, the ‘stat’ in the title is correct for the purpose of this post. It is based on the 125 brands who came top in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For in 2012. Read on to find out more….

Over the past four years, Twitter has become one of the key social networks for many businesses around the world. Brands that are yet to secure their spot on the platform are behind the times in many industries. Of course, there are certain types of businesses that may not feel social media is right for them but this is not the case for most.

What continues to surprise me is the number of brands that have not secured their brand name on Twitter. What surprises me even more is that those that have a presence on Twitter do not always register (in my opinion) the most appropriate Twitter handle for their brand.

How many times have you sent a tweet including the @TwitterHandle for a company assuming you are tweeting the brand? For me this happens a lot. A personal example that sticks in my mind is when I sent a tweet to @Moonpig asking where the card I ordered had got to.

As you can see in the screenshot below, @Moonpig isn’t owned by the company. It is actually just a normal man who now claims that he made a mistake several years ago using his children’s nickname as his Twitter handle and regrets it every Christmas and Valentines!

If you want to tweet the company Moonpig, you need to send the message to @MoonpigUK which obviously confuses many of their customers.

The next thing that surprises me is the number of websites I visit that don’t have a link to their Twitter account but they do link to their other social properties. McDonald’s are a huge worldwide brand and although they have a huge following (789,853 followers) on Twitter, they only link to their Facebook page from their website.

Other companies have a presence on Twitter and are actively using it but on their website, they don’t link to any social properties at all. With Google looking more and more at signals sent from social media, we need to be making it as easy as possible for them to understand the relationship between a brand and their social property.

For this post, I pulled together lots of data to highlight some of my concerns in more detail. I took the list of winners from the Sunday Times Top Companies to Work for in 2012 from the following categories:

  • Best Big Companies (25 in total)
  • Best Companies (100 in total)

If you would like to view the lists, have a look on the Sunday Times website here. You will need to switch between the tabs to see the data that I have pulled.

The Process

In order to get the data I was looking for, this is the process that I followed. If you want to view the raw data, it has been saved as a Google Doc here.

  1. Added all the company names from the 125 businesses to a spreadsheet
  2. Included their Location and Sector
  3. Manually reviewed their Twitter strategy looking at the following:
    1. What is their current Twitter name?
    2. What do I think their ideal Twitter name should be?
    3. Is their ideal Twitter name being used?
    4. Have they secured their actual brand name on Twitter?
    5. How many followers do they have?
    6. Is the Twitter account linked from their main company website?

Presence on Twitter

The first thing I looked at was how many of the 125 brands analysed actually had an account on Twitter. As you can see from the below, 11% (14) of the brands are yet to make an appearance on Twitter.

The data in this post was extracted from Twitter on 13th and 14th November so follower numbers may have increased/decreased since then.

There will always be some sectors that don’t believe social media is right for them. Looking at the 14 brands that are not active on Twitter, we can see that the Professional sector followed by Retail, Hospitality and Financial make up the bulk of this.

Secured Actual Name on Twitter

After understanding how many brands were active on Twitter, I then looked at how many had claimed their actual brand name on Twitter. Some brands have multiple Twitter Accounts for their company set up for different countries, services or products which is fine in my opinion but they should also secure their main brand name as a top level account too.

Virgin are a great example of this as they have lots of different products but they still have the top level Twitter account for their main brand.

The graph below shows you the split of brands who have and haven’t secured their actual name on Twitter.

I was extremely surprised that over 55% of the brands (69) analysed have not secured their actual brand name as a Twitter handle.

Of the 69 accounts that had not been claimed by a brand, further analysis shows that 27% of the ideal Twitter names are just sat there, not registered. This is a huge risk for brands as anyone can go along and register them!

Looking at the accounts that have been registered by someone else, 27% are not actually being used so there is a good opportunity for the brand to get in touch and try to get the account back.

There will be some circumstances where you can obtain your Twitter name back through contacting Twitter directly. Their Trademark Policy is clear and outlines all the different situations so it is worth a read.

I also wondered whether there would be a clear correlation between the sectors that have and haven’t secured their main brand name on Twitter. As you can see, the Professional sector stands out by a long mile with over 20 brands not having secured their actual Twitter name.

Linked from Main Website

It is all very well having a Twitter account and using it but if your customers can’t find it easily, you will not be helping interaction and engagement. As I mentioned at the start of this post, social signals are playing a part in SEO and having a link from your main website through to your Twitter account helps the search engines to marry your business up with your social properties.

Some of the brands I analysed did not have a link to their Twitter account but they did have a button that if clicked automatically gets you to follow them. Personally, I really don’t like this. If you have a link to Twitter on your website, it needs to link to the account rather than force people to follow you.

Of all the data, I think this surprised me the most. 45% of the brands do not link to their Twitter account from the website! Making a simple amend to the code allows you to embed social media buttons very easily and engagement will increase as a result.

Taking a look at the sectors that link to their Twitter account from their main site, we can see that the Professional sector dominates followed by Retail.


In summary, although I only looked at 125 brands from the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work 2012 for list, it is clear that some brands are still a long way behind others when it comes to social media.

Twitter clearly state in their terms that ‘usernames are provided on a first-come, first-served basis and they may not be reserved’ so those that are yet to register and secure their name need to act fast. Even if your business is not wanting to use social media, securing your brand name will protect the asset in the future as once someone has got hold of the Twitter handle, it can be extremely challenging to get it back.

List of Companies Analysed

Finally, here is the list of the companies analysed. To view all the data, please visit the Google Doc here.

  • Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
  • Abel & Cole
  • Accenture UK Ltd
  • Adecco UK
  • Admiral Group plc
  • Adobe Systems
  • Allianz Global Assistance
  • Altro Group PLC
  • American Express UK
  • AXA
  • Baker & McKenzie LLP
  • BAM Nuttall Ltd
  • Barrhead Travel Service Ltd
  • Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH)
  • Beaverbrooks the Jewellers Ltd
  • Bibby Financial Services
  • Big Yellow Group PLC
  • BMT Group
  • BMW UK
  • Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Boots Opticians
  • Boots UK
  • Botanic Inns Limited
  • Bourne Leisure Ltd
  • Bravissimo
  • British Gas
  • Brooks Macdonald
  • Brookwood Partnership Limited
  • Busaba Eathai
  • Capco
  • Catermasters
  • Coloplast Ltd
  • Companion Care
  • Connect Catering
  • Creditsafe Business Solutions Ltd.
  • Deloitte
  • Denplan Limited
  • DRL Limited / Appliances Online
  • dunnhumby
  • Edelman
  • Flight Centre (UK) Limited
  • Fossil UK
  • Gerald Eve LLP
  • Goldman Sachs International
  • Grass Roots
  • Hilti GB Limited
  • Hilton Hotels, UK
  • Holiday Extras
  • Homebase Limited
  • Huntress Group
  • Hydrogen Group
  • Iceland Frozen Foods Ltd
  • ING Direct
  • Ingeus UK Ltd
  • InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Inventive Leisure
  • iris
  • Janssen UK
  • Jefferies International Ltd.
  • Johnston Carmichael
  • Just Retirement
  • Kantar Worldpanel
  • Kiln Group
  • KPMG
  • Kwik-Fit Insurance Ltd
  • L’Occitane en Provence
  • Legal & General
  • Leo Burnett
  • Lewis Silkin
  • Lindum Group Ltd
  • Living Ventures Ltd
  • Loop Customer Management Ltd
  • Marathon Oil U.K. LLC
  • Marriott Hotels International Ltd
  • Matchtech Group
  • McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd
  • MEC
  • MediaCom
  • Medtronic Limited
  • Metaswitch
  • Mills & Reeve LLP
  • Mindshare
  • Mishcon de Reya
  • Motivcom plc
  • Mott MacDonald Limited
  • NDS UK
  • Neal`s Yard Remedies Ltd
  • Office Angels
  • Page Group
  • Penna Plc
  • Pertemps People Development Group
  • Pertemps Recruitment Partnership Ltd
  • Pets at Home
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
  • Rackspace
  • Randstad Construction, Property & Engineering
  • Randstad Staffing
  • Red Carnation Hotels
  • Reed Smith
  • Robert Half International
  • RSA
  • SAS
  • Search Consultancy
  • Signet Trading Ltd
  • Skipton Financial Services
  • Starcom Mediavest Group
  • Stryker UK Limited
  • Swansway Garages
  • Sytner Group
  • The Childbase Partnership
  • The Engine Group
  • The Midcounties Co-operative
  • The Net-a-Porter Group Limited
  • The Perfume Shop
  • The Savoy, a Fairmont Managed Hotel
  • Think Money Group
  • Totemic Limited
  • UKRD Group Limited
  • Virgin Money
  • Volvo Construction Equipment
  • W L Gore & Associates (UK) Ltd
  • Weber Shandwick
  • White Stuff
  • Withers LLP
  • Zurich

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Samantha Noble

Sam is a talented multi-tasker, a dedicated mother to the gorgeous Theo and a big fan of cooking – word on the street is that she’s pretty good in the kitchen but we’re yet to know if this is true or not. Hint hint, we like cake, Sam.

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