The retail industry is more active on Twitter than most industries.
According to a retail index released by SocialRank today gauging retailers’ Twitter followings and engagement, 58.1 percent of retailers tweeted in the last 90 days, a figure that puts them behind the 63.6 percent of technology start-ups that have recently tweeted, but ahead of the 49.8 percent of leading global brands, 54.7 percent of technology media firms and 50.8 percent of technology companies that have tweeted lately.
“The whole point of the index is to see the data within an industry and see how your stats compare. The retailers in the retail index do pretty well,” said Alex Taub, cofounder of SocialRank, a social media analysis firm. The company relies on the National Retail Federation’s list of top 100 retailers for its retail index, Interbrand’s best global brands list for its global brands index, PWC’s global software leaders list for its technology index, Techmeme’s Leaderboard list for its technology media index and the members of Wall Street Journal’s Billion Dollar Startup Club for its start-up index.
When it comes to quantities of Twitter followers, the retail industry is performing decently. On Monday, retailers had an average of 82,038 Twitter followers. That amount was significantly lower than the 249,739 average accumulated by technology media firms and the 330,936 average reeled in by global brands, but higher than the 34,502 average for technology start-ups and the 12,982 average for technology companies.
In addition to the aggregate industry information, SocialRank provides dynamic daily snapshots of individual retailer’s total Twitter follower and engagement counts. Taub says retweets, mentions and replies are figured into engagement. He underscores engagement is a particularly compelling measurement for companies seeking to understand if they are maximizing their Twitter participation.
“Say you have been spending the last eight years building up followers. That’s a good thing to continue to do that, but you may be underutilizing your existing follower base. You are not leveraging them. We are trying to help brands understand their audience better,” Taub said. He pointed out SocialRank enables companies to identify different types of Twitter followers, including the followers heavily interacting with the brand and the followers amassing large followings.
Among individual retailers, Starbucks Coffee and Whole Foods Market were number one and number two in terms of total followers at 7,311,740 and 3,939,627 as of early Monday afternoon, respectively. Amazon, which had 1,732,601 followers, trumped Starbucks Coffee and Whole Foods Market on the total engagement front. Amazon placed first in total engagement with 13,113, compared with 4,344 for Starbucks Coffee, which landed third in engagement. Whole Foods Market settled in the 17th spot for engagement with 638. Apple, through its App Store, scored the second spot in engagement with a tally of 5,856.
Isolating brick-and-mortar retailers with strong fashion components, Target was tops, ranking seventh overall for its followers with a total of 1,569,312 and engagement with a total of 1,776. Known to champion digital initiatives, Macy’s placed 13th for followers with 768,547 and 19th for engagement at 551. Wal-Mart did better with its engagement at 1,425 for ninth place, but fell to the 16th spot for its following of 648,161.
Gap scored on total engagement, but lagged in total following. The retailer snagged the 10th spot for its engagement of 1,370, and 21st for its following of 537,599. Conversely, Neiman Marcus ranks 28th for its total followers with 312,994 and 44th for engagement with 99. Nordstrom pinned down 20th place for its Twitter following with 559,684 followers, and 22nd for engagement with a count of 437. J.C. Penney is positioned at 25th for its 368,147 followers and 41st for its 127 sum in total engagement.
“Gap is punching above their follower size in proportion to their engagement. Macy’s and Nordstrom are within two to seven rankings of their follower size and engagement, which is totally fine and will fluctuate within a day. Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney, on the other hand, punch down,” said Taub, who noted SocialRank’s retail index shows total engagement as well as engagement specifically from retailers’ followers. “The downsides for Gap, though, are the engagement versus engagement from followers. This could mean a Twitter buy and not organic [Twitter growth]. Gap has only 4 percent of their engagement coming from followers. Macy’s and Nordstrom, on the other hand, have 20 percent and 16 percent of engagement coming from followers, meaning their bases might be stronger.”