Top 5 Companies With the Most Twitter Followers

Mike is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

Twitter, since its launch in 2006, has taken the world by storm… cyber texting, or “tweeting,” as it is commonly called, has become so popular in recent years that Twitter now has over 500 million active users. Considering how powerful word-of-mouth advertising can be it is no surprise that big name companies have chosen Twitter as a form of marketing… and some of them are certainly leading the crowd. The New York Times, Google, Facebook, Apple and Whole Foods Market, currently have the largest number of followers according to Twitter and So what exactly do the world’s most ‘popular’ companies spend their time tweeting about? We took a look at their online presence and their performance on the stock market.  This certainly isn’t a thesis arguing for investment based on twitter followers, it is simply a look at which companies are taking advantage of this free service to reach millions of potential customers.

Currently being pursued by a hefty 5,599,707 followers on Twitter, The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) is first in line. Not surprising, seeing as the “Old Grey Lady” is also the most popular media website in America, with estimated visits of over 30 million a month. Founded in 1851, this paper has a long history and has certainly evolved with the times. In addition to their online content, The New York Times also offers applications for Apple’s iPhone, and mobile content sites for Android devices. And now Twitter. As one might expect, The New York Times uses Twitter as an extension of their media format, tweeting about recent headlines with links to their website where followers can read the full articles. The New York Times may be popular amongst Tweeters, but they have experienced some rather low points in the past year on the stock market. The New York Times ended their year in the green, with a return of 22% since November 2011.

Sitting in second place, with 5,040,906 Twitter followers, is Google (NASDAQ: GOOG). Founded by two university students in 1998, Google now performs over one billion online searches each day and operates over one million data servers across the globe. When it comes to Twitter, Google takes the opportunity to market their latest products and interests directly to their followers. Promoting Google Maps and other products, Google is tweeting between 1 – 4 times per day to followers. With their income growth for the past year currently sitting at -20%, Google might need more than just a little bit of damage control… at least their popularity on Twitter hasn’t waned. For example, Google was tweeted about around 20 times each hour today… and it isn’t all bad reviews.

The third biggest following on Twitter belongs to everybody’s best friend, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB). The world famous online networking site, launched in 2004, currently has over 1 billion users. Not too bad for a social site that was originally started, and limited to, Harvard University students. Facebook also isn’t afraid to tweet… but they’re not quite as active as Google. Tweeting on average a few times a week, rather than four times a day, Facebook isn’t overbearing in Twitter presence. Tweeting mostly about their latest features, applications, upgrades and links to their latest client reviews, Facebook is using Twitter to market themselves… and it’s probably working in their favor. Currently being followed by 4,221,557 Twitters users, their popularity continues to increase. However, things on the stock market don’t look quite so rosy. Facebook has experienced a slow start to the year and are currently sitting in the red. YTD overall, Facebook stock is at -49%... not exactly something to tweet about.

Fourth in line for Twitter fans, is the name on just about everyone’s lips, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). Apple, the multinational computer technology corporation, literally reinvented themselves in the past 15 years. Sliding under, almost to the point of no return, Apple pulled themselves out from under the rubble with the invention and release of the iPod, and later the iPhone and iPad… revolutionary technology at the time, and a little different from their past releases of personal home computers. Twitter fans are definitely responding well.

Currently followed by 2,852,901 fans and tweeted about on a daily basis, Apple is certainly popular and they know how to tweet. Using Twitter as a way to communicate with their clients regarding their latest technology, perform surveys and update Apple users on the latest news, Apple is tweeting at least one per hour – most days, considerably more. Apple is also looking pretty on the stock market. Apple is currently enjoying an overall return of 38.3% in the past 52 weeks.

Last, but by no means least, Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM) won’t be left behind. Based out of Texas, the natural and organic supermarket chain has created quite a stir amongst Americans, who are slowly starting to grow more conscious of their dietary habits. Whole Foods Market is currently being followed by 2,788,501 fans and we don’t doubt they’re happy fans. Tweeting regularly, at least twice per day, Whole Foods Market offers recipes, healthy eating information, FAQs, surveys and giveaways, all through their Twitter account. Not to mention, followers are also tweeting about Whole Foods Market… way to create positive word-of-mouth! Plus, things are looking good for Whole Foods Market on the stock exchange. Overall, Whole Foods Market has a return of 37.1% since November 2011.

In conclusion, Twitter is an excellent way for companies to create positive word-of-mouth advertising online, keep their clients up to date with their latest offers and create popularity for their product. It has certainly worked for Apple and Whole Foods Market. Apple and Whole Foods seem to have created a nice balance of marketing and information their clients want to hear, and it seems to have paid off in their share price.  In the end, Twitter is an excellent way for companies to create and communicate with their fans.  Twitter helps these companies get in the minds of people and potentially in their pockets.

mthiessen has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Facebook, Google, and Whole Foods Market and has the following options: long JAN 2014 $20.00 calls on Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Facebook, Google, and Whole Foods Market. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.

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