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Source: Shawn Campbell

Source: Shawn Campbell

It is no secret that nearly every big brand is on Twitter these days, and plenty of smaller businesses are learning to take advantage of the platform every day. But, there are plenty of ways you can mess up when trying to connect with your audience on one of the largest social media platforms around. As a new study on how top brands use Twitter shows, the biggest mistake you can make is simply neglecting your account.

The study from social media analytics firm Simply Measured showed that 92 percent of brands are tweeting an average of 12 times a day, and 98 percent of the top brands in today’s market are regularly active on Twitter.

In fact, consumers seem to be downright eager to follow brands on Twitter, as audiences for the top brands have grew by 20 percent in the last quarter of 2013. Over half of the brands have more than 100,000 followers each.

Of course, it doesn’t matter how often you tweet if you aren’t sharing things that excite the community and encourage engagement. As Marketing Land notes, the tweets with photos or links are more likely to receive activity than the traditional 140 character updates. But, it might be a surprise to see just how much better they perform. Simply Measured says tweets with photos or links see 150 percent more engagement than the brand averages.

Twitter-Links-Types-That-Generate-Engagements-Simply-Measured-600x330

Images see even more engagement than links by a large amount, with an average of 210 engagements per tweet. That absolutely dwarfs the 27 engagements on average for a bit.ly link.

You can download the full report from Simply Measured’s website.

When Facebook announced their introduction of hashtags in June, it seemed to be a pretty big deal, especially within the social media marketing industry. Every online marketer immediately began investigating how to make the most out of the use of hashtags, and if they are even worth the effort. A few months later, it appears the hashtags aren’t faring well.

Facebook Hashtag Graph

In late July, Simply Measured reported status updates with hashtags weren’t gaining brands any extra exposure, now Search Engine Watch reports EdgeRank Checker has similar findings.

According to EdgeRank Checker’s data, viral reach and engagement were down on posts with hashtags compared to those without hashtags. They studied over 500 pages, and then compared their data to a sample of 50 Twitter accounts from Fortune 500 brands. They found that 70 percent of brands experienced an increase in retweets when using a hashtag, indicating higher engagement.

EdgeRank Checker did have an idea why Facebook users may not be responding to the hashtags:

Our hypothesis is that not many people are clicking on hashtags. If many people were clicking hashtags, we should see an increase in Viral Reach for posts with hashtags. The data is not showing that. If anything, it’s showing a decrease in Viral Reach.

We hypothesize that hashtagged posts don’t have the expected increase in Viral Reach due to how brands are using them. After examining how hashtags are being used, hashtags are often used in promotional material. For some brands, they’ve created campaigns around particular hashtags and use them in all posts associated with the campaign. By nature, campaigns are promotional, therefore more likely to drive less engagement, less clicks, and ultimately less Reach.