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Why Huge Corporations Fail Miserably on Twitter

Douglas A. McIntyre

In among the major and minor celebrities, news media outlets, the Pope and President Obama, there are no huge corporations with substantial followings on Twitter. As a matter of fact, among the list of the top 1,000 people, places and things with large follower bases, it is mostly smaller, niche companies that have some popularity. In the world of Twitter, either because of suspicion, boredom or demographics, the corporate world might as well pack up and go home.

Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) has a modest following of 4.3 million, which places it 244th with Twitter followers. Leader Justin Bieber has 45 million. Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM) has 3.6 million, which puts it in the 326th spot. BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY) has 3.2 million, which places it at 376. Maybe people on Twitter like to watch companies, like BlackBerry, that go through train wrecks.

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Starbucks and Whole Foods are among the American companies that can claim to be good citizens. Each buys ingredients for its top-selling products through networks that are built around carefully crafted relationships with farmers. In that sense, their habits do not match those of big companies at all. Each has avoided using slave labor in China and the yield of crops that use genetically altered seed.

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The lack of big companies on Twitter likely goes to the trustworthiness of their messages. As hard as these firms try to make their messages fun or tether their products to customer care, the only reason that Xerox Corp. (XRX) and J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (JCP) have a presence on Twitter is because they pay for it. The fact that companies pay for their presence likely makes the universe of Twitter users even more suspicious.

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The absence of large companies on Twitter is actually very good for the social network. These corporations have to resort to paid tweets to have any hope of reaching large audiences. Twitter has found a friend in the world's largest marketers, largely because they are ignored.

Companies that wonder why they do poorly on Twitter need go no further than some of the world's largest companies:

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@walmart Save Money, Live Better. Follow us to learn about tips, solutions & limited time specials! Tweet us @Walmart - we're here to help and provide inspiration 24/7!

What is it that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) inspires other than cheap products, many of which are made by poorly paid laborers in China.

Then there is:

@Chrysler Chrysler Group LLC Files Registration Statement for Proposed Initial Public Offering
http://www.chryslergroupllc.com/Investor/sec/Pages/default.aspx …

That's so exciting, it takes one's breath away.

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