Study: Exposure to brand Tweets drives consumers to take action – both on and off Twitter


For some time now, we’ve been closely studying the size and reach of conversations about two popular topics among our users: TV and brands. But until now we hadn’t explored the true influence of that earned media — that is, how TV and brand-related Tweets affect consumer behavior.

In partnership with The Advertising Research Foundation, FOX and DB5, we conducted a study called “Discovering the Value of Earned Audiences — How Twitter Expressions Activate Consumers”. It was designed to discover how exposure to a brand mention in a Tweet affects the actions of consumers online and offline. Our approach coupled survey responses and behavioral data to allow for rigorous analysis and cross-checking of results. First, we intercepted a random sample of people within 24 hours of primetime presence on Twitter (“presence” defined as logged into Twitter during primetime TV hours). No screening questions were used; we just wanted to talk to people who like using Twitter during the time when TV is most relevant.

We recruited a representative sample of over 12,000 people: male and female Twitter users, across all age groups and devices, including mobile and desktop. We then appended Twitter behavioral data to the results.

Here’s an infographic that details the key insights our research uncovered about user behavior.

Click on image for larger version

The three key findings:

1. Brands are an integral part of regular conversation on Twitter.

People follow brands they care about on Twitter to engage in one-on-one conversations as well as get unique access to news, product updates and special offers. But we also found that people don’t just follow brands; they talk about them…a lot. In fact, 80% of the Twitter users we surveyed had mentioned a brand in their Tweets during the measurement period of September 2013 through March 2014.

Behavioral data showed that among this group of Twitter users, 50% had mentioned brands in their Tweets 15 times or more over a seven-month period. With so many people following and mentioning brands, it’s not surprising that a whopping 99% of Twitter users in the study were exposed to a brand-related Tweet in the month of January alone.

Key takeaways for brands: Twitter offers brands not only an owned and paid channel to spread their messages at scale but also serves as a powerful platform for earned media. Tactics like adding #hashtags to other media such as TV ads, as well as engaging key audiences in one-to-one interactions can help drive volume and quality of earned media conversation.

2. Consumers take action both online and offline after seeing brand mentions in Tweets.

We found that over half of Twitter users reported that they have taken action after seeing brand mentions in Tweets (54%). These consumers take action on Twitter and beyond Twitter. The top two actions people took: visiting the brand’s website (23%) and visiting the brand’s Twitter page (20%). Brand Tweet exposure also drives online search for the brand (20%) as well as brand consideration with 19% of Twitter users in the study saying they’d consider trying the brand. Tweets that mention a brand also frequently spark earned media: 18% of study respondents retweet Tweets mentioning brands.

Our research revealed all age groups take action after exposure to brand-related Tweets, with a range from 41% - 59%. However, younger respondents reported the highest likelihood to take some action, at 56% for 18-24 years olds and 59% for 13-17 years olds (vs. 54% average across all ages).

Key takeaways for brands: Since Tweet exposure drives actions across platforms including searching, engagement and purchase, integrate Tweet messages and calls to action with campaigns on other media (TV, search, other social media, other owned destinations).

3. The source of the Tweet containing a brand mention affects consumer actions.

We found that both Tweets from brands and Tweets from non-brand sources successfully drive action among consumers (45% and 63% respectively), but combining the two is ultimately more powerful. In fact, 79% of those who recall seeing Tweets from both the brand itself and Twitter users tweeting about brands have taken some brand action online or offline.

Key takeaway for brands: Complement earned media with owned and paid messages as the combination tends to drive greater consumer action and maximize return on your efforts.

Research Team:

Peter Orban (@peterorban)

EVP, Research & Innovation: Mobile & Social

The Advertising Research Foundation

Judit Nagy (@Judit_Nagy_2013)

Vice President, Digital Analytics

Fox Broadcasting

Nina Kjarval (@NinaSoley)

Senior Brand Strategist


Xavier Sanchez de Carmona (@xaviersdec)

Research Director, Social & Mobile

The Advertising Research Foundation