Top 10 B2B Companies on Twitter

As more B2B companies start using Twitter to communicate with their customers, prospects and industries, they look for examples of companies that are already using the platform. Part of Twitter’s success has been based on its simplicity, and that has given people and companies a wide range of options how to use it.

So B2B companies could have a definitive reference point, we wanted to rank B2B companies based on their use of Twitter. We will review this list on a monthly basis to see how it changes. This is not just a ranking based on number of followers or other single criteria, but a series of measures, which also include using outside measure tools. The list of potential companies are ranked by each of the factors listed below, which are then combined to create a total score.

We only included the main account of a B2B company, and the account needed to be identified as the company, not a person. This left out @MarketingProfs from consideration because it is also Ann Handley’s personal account. Sorry, Ann.

Factors Included: The first factor that makes up the ranking is the number of followers, because companies that can attract a large number of followers have a larger reach to spread their message. This certainly skews the list towards larger companies. Over time, as we refine the rankings, reducing the importance of this one factor can allow smaller companies to break into the list.

So that it is not just a numbers game, we include the ratio of following to followers. This gives some credit to companies that are using Twitter to communicate with other users. While you can certainly send an @ message to any user without following them, the perception that a company is fully participating in Twitter increases when they are following a number of users that relates to the number of users following them.

One of the best ways to measure whether companies are providing value to the Twitter ecosystem is to look at how many times a company has been added to a list. If a company appears on lists, this implies that people want to make sure they don’t miss the messages of this company. While people compile lists for other reasons too, we have included number of lists in the ranking as another data point.

And then to measure factors such as reach, engagement and influence, we turned to outside tools that have established algorithms. Not everyone may agree with how any individual tool measures these factors, but by including several sources minimizes the impact of any single factor. We have included company scores on TwitterGrader (rank, not grade), Klout and Twitalyzer. The potential companies were ranked based on the score from each source, which was included in the final rankings.

So that’s what currently goes into the list, and we would like your feedback on these factors, or other factors that can be considered in ranking B2B companies on Twitter. We will continue to tweak the weighting of the different factors as this list moves forward. If there are companies you think should be included in the list of potential ones that get ranked, please let us know in the comments below.

SocialMediaB2B.com Top B2B Companies on Twitter
(January 2011)
1. Hubspot (@Hubspot)
2. Forrester (@Forrester)
3. eMarketer (@eMarketer)
4. CME Group (@CMEGroup)
5. comScore (@comScore)
6. Cisco (@Cisco)
7. Gartner (@Gartner_Inc)
8. Oracle (@Oracle)
9. radian6 (@radian6) Became @MarketingCloud in 2012
10. Intel (@Intel)

Comments

  1. says

    Jeff

    Thanks for the feedback, but this list is specifically top companies. Once we fine-tune the methodology and develop an automated process for updating the list, we would be happy to apply similar criteria to people in the B2B space, both general and by subject matter.

  2. says

    Was hoping to see more traditional brands on this list. Most of these folks are digital marketing companies, so it’s to be expected.

    Linkbait? :D

  3. says

    Interesting to see some of these big firms evolving and embracing social media. It would be more interesting to see a list of just the top B2B companies that are not in a marketing/PR related firm. Companies that sell services, data or software to marketers are not really the same as Oracle, Cisco, and Intel. Companies like Hubspot and eMarketer are in the business of digital marketing so it’s not really a fair comparison. Seems like there are apples and oranges on this list.

  4. says

    Jason: Let us get the process worked out, and I have already thought about a non-technical list of B2B companies. Is it really linkbait if it starts a discussion of which B2B companies use Twitter well, and how do you determine that? ;)

    Kelly: Thanks for the comments. It is interesting to think about how you would divide companies into categories for the purposes of comparison. B2B is a large, undifferentiated space that only means selling to another business. What would you use to divide them that is not subjective? NAICS codes (http://www.naics.com/info.htm )?

  5. says

    Hi Jeff:

    Thanks for acknowledging me here; I appreciate it. Before I comment further, let me just say that this list is yours, and you can name whomever you wish to it, based on any criteria you determine. Because… well, it’s yours!

    But that said, I don’t consider the @MarketingProfs Twitter account my personal Twitter account. I draw a clear distinction between personal and personality. The @MarketingProfs account has the latter, but is not marked by the former.

    Instead, I consider myself a brand ambassador of MarketingProfs maintaining the account and building community there on the company’s behalf. It’s an asset of MarketingProfs, and if I were to leave the company (and I have no plans to do so), the account belongs to MarketingProfs, not me. That’s why I also secured @AnnHandley on Twitter (although I don’t currently tweet from it). C.C. and I also maintain @TheContentRules for our book account, and I also have @ThisMommyGig for my (mostly defunct) group parenting blog. Do I occasionally talk about my own life as well as MarketingProfs more broadly from the @MarketingProfs account? Well, yes. But that’s the social part of social media, as I see it, and I see that as a way to humanize our business, among other things.

    I guess what I find slightly troubling is the subtle suggestion here that there is a “right” way to maintain a B2B Twitter account: Specifically, that it be not tied to an individual, and that it have a faceless one or more people behind it.

    That’s a perfectly fine way to run a B2B Twitter account, but it’s certainly not the *only* way. In fact, I’d argue that the reason MarketingProfs has had such success on Twitter (as measured by the other criteria you call out, including follow ratios, # of list inclusions, # of followers, etc.) is precisely because I have been the driving force behind building it. In other words, I doubt @MarketingProfs on Twitter would currently have quite the same level of success if the main account was maintained by committee, or by a nameless, faceless staffer.

    Again, the list is your list, and you can do with it as you wish. But I wanted to include my perspective here.

    Happy New Year from chilly Boston!

    Ann Handley

  6. says

    Ann

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. It makes me glad that I called you out so I could get your opinion. You have infused the @MarketingProfs account with so much personality that I did mistake it for your own account. The account name, photo, bio and background are all yours, rather than the company. I would argue that some of this (bio and background, especially) should feel more like the company, rather than Ann.

    I agree, there is not a right way to run a Twitter account, which is why I aggregate data and approaches from several sources to account for multiple points of view.

    Regardless of any of this, yes, you have done a fantastic job with the account from a content (duh), engagement and personality point of view, that it should be held up as an example of Twitter best practices. I think I am finalizing a presentation that includes just that topic.

    This list is something that I would like to continue to grow, and this feedback is very helpful.

    Looking forward to seeing you in Austin next month,
    Jeff

  7. says

    Jeffrey,

    Very cool to be included with 9 other great companies. Twitter certainly has been one of our “social phones” where we communicate with customers and community members on a constant basis.

    Thanks for recognizing the team on their efforts.

    Cheers.
    @davidalston
    Radian6

  8. says

    David
    Thanks for the comment. Yes, Twitter has become an important response channel for many B2B companies. Your team’s approach to it can help other companies understand that.

  9. Joy says

    Lists are fun. What this story needs, in addition to your criteria and the list itself, is a qualitative explanation of what each company is doing right. Maybe you could highlighted an event or situation that each one handled well through tweeting, their most re-tweeted tweets and a quote from their marketing leaders about their social media strategy. Without this commentary for your story, this list offers prestige to the listed, but no insights for your readers.

  10. says

    Joy:
    Thanks for the great comment. A qualitative review of top B2B Twitter accounts is a great idea to go along with the numbers. As this list evolves, I can begin to pair the numbers with additional information to make this more relevant to readers.

  11. says

    John:
    Thanks for the visiting this list. Hope we can provide additional information about top B2B companies on Twitter as this list improves, and more people can learn from @CiscoSystems and others on the list.

  12. says

    This is a great list – I’m pleased to see B2B social networking coming to the fore.

    May I publish the list in the section on Digital Marketing of the new B2B Marketing report I am writing (as a freelance) for Key Note? Full credit to you of course!

    Didy

  13. Jeff says

    Hubspot? Get real. They are a spam machine producing endless amounts of noise and fluff content

  14. Jen says

    What about a list of B2B companies using social media who’s core business is not social media or marketing related?

  15. says

    Thanks for posting, Jeffrey

    I found the point that you can judge the credibility of the Twitter account by seeing how many times they have been listed really useful. Never thought of it, but it really makes sense, so thanks!

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