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12|23|2008 05:20 pm EDT

The Top 100 Global Brands Still Don’t Get Online Media

by Adam Strong in Categories: Miscellaneous

In writing a previous post equating user names on social media sites to domain names, it raised my curiousity what big brands were up to on Twitter.  It’s understandable in the early 1990’s, as the internet was slowly emerging, brand managers and/or executives couldn’t see the potential for a brand like McDonalds to be on the internet.  Could you imagine a global brand not owning their .com today?

So do these brands stay ahead of the curve now?  The answer is No, not really. DNN took the Top 100 global brands from Business Week and checked Twitter to see which companies were actively using the 2 year old micro-blogging service to further their brand.  The results are indeed similar to the early days of domains, most brands don’t get it.  The chart follows after the jump.

The Results (chart can be seen at the bottom of this post)

58 global brands have no active presence on Twitter.

9 brands appear to have some sort of presence  with @MTV appearing to be the most active. It’s unclear if @pepsi and @canon are controlled by the respective companies.

27 of the associated brand user names are controlled by an individual, most likely not associated with the brand. Several like @adidas and @levis appear to be for sale. The user with @goldmansachs even admits to squatting it.  Will Twitter take these names back automatically?  Will the auto manufacturer automatically get the acronym @BMW when they request it. Can’t a user with those initials registered and use it since they were first ?

8 more of the associated user names are Twitter protected. Most of these seem to be in use by individuals as well, but it isn’t 100% clear.

In summary, only 9% of the top 100 brands are embracing this new social media platform. These are huge global brands and Twitter is a free service. What’s the excuse?  We didn’t even scratch the surface of all the other brands that likely aren’t early adopters as well. Think about all the sports teams, smaller brands, celebrities and others who have yet to register.

With $20 million in backing and millions of messages and users per month, Twitter seems like a safe bet to use for your brand. If this is truly comparable to domain names, now might be the time for executives at some of these top 100 brands to wake up. Twitter might also be smart to make some policy decisions quickly before that happens.

BusinessWeek’s Top 100 Brands on Twitter

INDV = individual owns
NP = No brand presence

oracle BRAND
accenture BRAND
yahoo BRAND
reuters BRAND
time BRAND
harleydavidson BRAND
pepsi BRAND ?
canon BRAND ?
goldmansachs INDV
levis INDV
disney INDV
nokia INDV
mercedes INDV
cisco INDV
bmw INDV
ford INDV
dell INDV
jpmorgan INDV
harley INDV
heinz INDV
avon INDV
chanel INDV
philips INDV
amazon INDV
kraft INDV
caterpillar INDV
shell INDV
smirnoff INDV
johnsonjohnson INDV
prada INDV
polo INDV
adidas INDV
sap NP
ubs NP
hertz NP
cocacola NP
coke NP
microsoft NP
ibm NP
ge NP
intel NP
mcdonalds NP
toyota NP
marlboro NP
mercedesbenz NP
hewlettpackard NP
citibank NP
citi NP
gillette NP
honda NP
samsung NP
nescafe NP
budweiser NP
merrilllynch NP
morganstanley NP
pfizer NP
merck NP
hsbc NP
kelloggs NP
siemens NP
ikea NP
apple NP
louisvuitton NP
nintendo NP
volkswagen NP
volkswagon NP
loreal NP
xerox NP
kodak NP
kfc NP
pizzahut NP
colgate NP
kleenex NP
ebay NP
nestle NP
danone NP
rolex NP
porsche NP
panasonic NP
hermes NP
duracell NP
audi NP
aol NP
hennessy NP
lexus NP
burberry NP
nivea NP
nissan NP
ralphlauren NP
americanexpress PROTECTED
wrigleys PROTECTED
motorola PROTECTED
johnsonandjohnson TOO LONG
coca-cola Character Not Permitted
mercedes-benz Character Not Permitted
johnson&johnson Character Not Permitted
hewlett-packard Character Not Permitted
harley-davidson Character Not Permitted

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December 24, 2008 @ 12:25 am EDT

I find it interesting that we see cybersquatting behavior on websites like Twitter, other social networks, even forums, and lately MMOs.


December 24, 2008 @ 12:59 am EDT

Forget global companies… I can’t get local tourist-service businesses to advertise on a web site geared to tourism. They don’t get it.

Adam Strong

December 24, 2008 @ 1:16 am EDT

sharkbytes, the point of using the top 100 brands is that they should know better. Local tourism is still mom and pop businesses. Also many small businesses may be trimming ad spends because of the recession and slow down in travel.

Reece . . . it’s pretty broad to call it all squatting. Is the guy who has @bmw squatting. Not in my book.


December 24, 2008 @ 1:57 am EDT

OH, I know what your point is… I agree, they certainly should be making the paradigm shift. I was just venting a pet peeve that is at least related. I’m not sure what cybersquatting is… getting control of a domain that a larger company surely should want and then making them pay for it?

Terence Chna

December 24, 2008 @ 9:51 am EDT

I think all marketers today get the notion of Online, except that it requires exceptional technical skills to do it properly. Which is what 90& of all marketers don’t have, and therefore look stupid when trying to approve a proposal.

Bryan Rhoads

December 27, 2008 @ 12:02 am EDT

Hi Adam –

As part of the Intel Social Media Center of Excellence, I’m going to respectively question your analogy and math. For one, the Twitter platform is primarily an individual medium utilized for both professional and personal communications. I think that most of the brands you cite have gobs of employees using this service, but not from a corporate messaging perspective simply because centralized messaging like your .com analogy isn’t of interest or relevance for me or you to follow on Twitter. Right now, there are only a few good and useful exceptions of brands using Twitter, mainly in the news space, but pioneering voices like Comcast (and Intel to show my bias), have come through with real-time customer service solutions. At Intel, we have taken the approach that the individual can best represent the Intel brand on SNS platforms such on as Twitter. I cite our PR team as one example who use this service as individuals to establish relationships w/ the press, customers and serve to be a personal connection inside the firewall as opposed to solely publishing static press releases via We both don’t have enough fingers to count the employees or the specific campaigns or physical events that have Twitter accounts in association w/ Intel. I know many of the brands and their corresponding digital strategists/social media practitioners who are indirectly cited in your post… and I can tell you that looking top down as an exercise or research into Twitter activity won’t provide for an accurate assessment of brand activity. So follow me on Twitter… @bryanrhoads :)

Adam Strong

December 27, 2008 @ 1:11 am EDT

Thanks for your comments Brian.

“because centralized messaging like your .com analogy isn’t of interest or
relevance for me or you to follow on Twitter.”

I was under the impression a brand was created in order to have a unified message, a trust, rapport, etc. tied to a product. So the @brandname would be the best channel to provide this message imho.

I think this “centralized messaging” is of interest depending on the customer and brand and what you are providing in your “message”. Yes, simply spitting out press releases is a pretty lame way to do this. I won’t disagree there, but aren’t there other things that a brand can do with a channel like this other than that ? Let’s be a little more creative with our brands.

Customers want to have interaction with the brands and places where they can “touch” the brand. It’s different for every brand and different for every customer and each brand can use a respective “channel” differently. My point on the Twitter accounts was that I believe that each brand should be using their @brandname to control some sort of message on this platform. It’s not my job or place to say what that message is or what it is that would be “of interest or relevance” to each brands’s customers. Isn’t this what social media is about though ? Providing a way to directly and transparently interact and what better way for a company to engage in this then on the brand name?

You mention : “I know many of the brands and their corresponding digital strategists/social media practitioners who are indirectly cited in your post… and I can tell you that looking top down as an exercise or research into Twitter activity won’t provide for an accurate assessment of brand activity.”

I’m sure there are scads of people from the companies I mentioned on Twitter and other sites, but why is their no focus on the @brandname? Team members can and should carry forward the message of the brand individually and I don’t mean to discredit any work by you or others in your efforts to do that. However shouldnt a brand have a voice as well?

I can sympathize with some of what you seem to be conveying. A global brand may have a tough job connecting and providing a centralized point because of scale alone. In this evolving landscape though, I believe that this is what customers will demand. They want the direct connection to the brand. I believe brands that provide this will succeed in this landscape.

I believe that this shows your customers that you are accessible and actually care about providing a point of contact and a way to interact. What I believe the brands aren’t getting is that the central point on Twitter or any social media network should revolve around the brand name. It’s refreshing to here that Intel and others you cite have teams of people devoted to Twitter, but the brand is where your customers are looking for answers. I’d also like to think that people aren’t looking for the Intel brand and a way to connect at @bryanrhoads. They’re looking for it at @intel.

I think I practice this in my own use. We are using @domainnamenews for the content we produce and currently just spitting out our posts. (As soon as we figure out a better use we’ll be sure to jump on it). However we also use the channel to respond to contacts and engage with others in the community. I also have my @adamstrong account which I use to discuss domain names and other items outside of the DNN brand, but I also make sure I link back to the mothership.

btw isn’t intel providing a sort of centralized messaging in ?
Maybe I’m just green and don’t know what I’m talking about. . . . either way I do appreciate your comments and providing some discussion on the topic directly from someone involved. Thanks again

Kelly Feller, Intel

December 29, 2008 @ 4:06 am EDT

Hi Adam,
Speaking for myself, I look at blog posts on corporate blogs as definite places where brands can speak in a somewhat unified fashion. However I believe Twitter is different. My opinion is that over 1K people follow me on Twitter not because I work for Intel and am communicating on behalf of the brand, but because I’m a well-rounded person who engages in compelling and interesting conversations with others–and this is key–on topics not solely related to where I work. Do I tweet about Intel? Yes. But I also tweet about music, politics, social media marketing, and other probably narcissistic quips. Your readers can correct me if they think otherwise, but I think my list of followers would be fewer if I only tweeted brand related communications.
@kellyrfeller (Kelly Feller, Social Media Mgr., Intel–I work with Bryan Rhoads)

Adam Strong

December 29, 2008 @ 11:13 am EDT

Kelly. the point of this post was to look at brands NOT using their @brandname accounts in an effective manner. I wouldn’t expect or advocate for individuals to use their individual accounts to simply regurgitate corporate stuff. I do expect more from a global brand in controlling their @brandname and using it effectively.

Adam Strong

January 11, 2009 @ 1:39 am EDT

For those interested, attorney Erik Heels expanded on this further at

and TechDirt has also picked the story up.


July 19, 2011 @ 4:09 am EDT

Outdated list. Most of them are now using Twitter.


July 19, 2011 @ 5:33 am EDT

@MK: And that would be because the post is 3 years old ;-)

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