Brands with Millions of Twitter FollowersWe’ve discussed two of the most popular Pages on Facebook before, now it’s time to turn to Twitter. Here’s a look at three brands that have attracted millions of followers on their respective Twitter accounts: Spanish soccer team, FC Barcelona, Apple’s iTunes music platform, and air carrier, Southwest Airlines.

Each of these brands has leveraged the features of Twitter to develop huge followings. While things like the number of followers is certainly not the only way to measure success on social media, the strategies these three companies have employed show an understanding of how to best use Twitter to serve an audience. No matter how big your audience currently is, these approaches could help your company build a stronger presence on Twitter.

1. FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona

This Spanish soccer team, formally known as Futbol Club Barcelona, operates multiple Twitter feeds in different languages to best serve fans of the club across the globe. The English version has more than 7 million followers, the Spanish account has 3 million, and the Catalan one has more than 2 million.

The major appeal of FC Barcelona’s Twitter presence is the live tweets of the team’s matches. This makes it an essential tool for fans, especially ones who live in places that don’t regularly televise soccer. Any live tweets are marked with the hashtag #FCBLive, which is a helpful approach for fans seeking out updates. The hashtag is also applied to other live events featuring the team and its players, such as press conferences.

The FB Barcelona accounts are positioned as real-time news feeds for the team, and the legions of followers across multiple nations show that the resource is clearly something the fans want. Knowing your audience’s needs and wants, then going above and beyond the call of duty to satisfy them, is a surefire way to attract a strong base of Twitter followers.

2. iTunes Music

Apple iTunes
Apple is notoriously known for not having official social media accounts, but it has a following of more than 3 million people for its iTunes Music Twitter account. The feed includes news about additions to the store’s catalog, pre-orders, and exclusive offers. While these updates are a great reason for people who use the service to follow the account, it’s equally popular for the artists who are selling their music. The iTunes Twitter account regularly retweets posts by artists mentioning when they will have music up for sale on the platform.

The lesson to take away from iTunes’ success on Twitter is the power of partnerships. It’s a great example of mutually beneficial behavior on the network. Popular musicians know that directly mentioning iTunes when announcing song availability could increase the chance that iTunes will retweet it, expanding the audience and probably upping the number of people who purchase the music.

The relationship works both ways. The iTunes tweets often mention musicians by their Twitter handles, so that the artists’ fan bases know where they can get the latest tracks. Developing this type of symbiotic relationship can not only help you get more Twitter followers, but those followers are more likely to be people with a vested interest in your success.

3. Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines

One of the distinctive elements of Southwest Airlines‘ Twitter presence is that the company has set a policy of not managing customer support issues through the network. The official contact information for Southwest’s customer service team is listed in the Twitter bio so that followers with concerns know where to voice them. Opting to remove all support queries from the platform can be a risky choice, but it does allow Southwest to have a feed that is uncluttered by tweet conversations about problems. It also allows the brand to use Twitter to fill a very specific niche.

The company’s Twitter feed offers fans and frequent flyers a closer relationship with the company. Some tweets might cover the airline’s history or business profiles of its leaders. The other main topics of tweets are deals and contests. Presenting this kind of content shows that Southwest has chosen to use Twitter to create stronger customer relationships. Deals are a great way to attract a base audience, but the real success comes from then educating those people about the personal side of the company. Especially for a large brand, this can help boost the public opinion of your business.

The lesson here is to craft your strategy for any established social media network with a clear plan of how you want it to serve your business. Some brands have excelled at using social for customer service, while other brands use it for building a fan community or as an effective marketing tool.

Having a clear purpose will help your team develop a consistent voice, as Southwest has. This may require some major shifts in how your company uses social media as you test out what approach is most effective. Once you settle on a strategy, stick with it and make sure that your social media team is fully committed to it.

Know any other successful brands rockin’ it with millions of followers? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credits: dfbphotos, 1997, ackook]