Research on Twitter users from Constant Contact and Chadwick Martin Bailey put the share following brands at 21% of the total. That falls closely in line with April 2011 research from Compete, which found 19% of Twitter users found brands to follow on the service.
In the Constant Contact/CMB study, most brand followers kept up with just a few favored companies on Twitter. Their top reason for becoming a brand follower, cited by 64% who did so, was that they were already a customer of the company—far ahead of the 48% who did so just to get discounts and deals.
While Twitter followers may already be loyal customers, that doesn’t mean following has no effect on them. Overall, 50% said that after following a company’s tweets they were more likely to purchase from the firm, and among men the share was 55%. An even stronger majority said they would be more likely to recommend the brand to others, at least in the case of a few companies they followed.
If brands what them to do so, they will have to give their followers what they want. Aside from promotions and discounts, that means information—61% follow brands so they can be the “first to know” what’s hot—and exclusive content (36%), along with content they can share with others and pass along via retweets (28%).