Why a museum is the UK’s top brand on Twitter


The logo of Tate, used in several similar vers...
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Last week we looked a ranking of the top ten brands on Facebook globally, based on the number of people who ‘like’ them. There were no real surprises - Starbucks came top and the rest of the top ten was filled with well-known consumer and fashion brands. When considering brands on Twitter this story is sometimes different and it is not always the obvious brands that are most followed.

The same dataset, from Famecount, can be used to look at brands on Twitter and, unlike with Facebook, it throws up some unexpected findings. For example the most followed brand in the UK isn’t a consumer or fashion brand, an airline or a bank. It’s a museum: @Tate.

The top five brands on Twitter (UK)

Rank Brand Followers
1 Tate 106,881
2 Top Shop 69,411
3 ASOS 39,829
4 comparethemarket.com (Alexandr Orlov) 39,379
5 STA Travel 26,385

*Note: figures from Famecount and updated where relevant to be correct as of June 13 2010

Why is a museum the top UK brand on Twitter?

We have been discussing recently why people follow brands on Twitter. With Twitter there is not necessarily a need for people to follow the brand in order to interact with it. You typically follow the brand if you are interested in their tweets and message being part of your feed. If you want to know what is happening, what they say and what they think. The data above shows that people are more interested in following a museum than they are fashion retailers, a financial services firm or a travel agency. But why?

There are some structural reasons why the Tate will attract followers. Twitter is great for events and experiences and a museum has lots of these. So if they are using Twitter well any museum should attract people interested in the events that are going on there. People also want to be updated about what’s on and when it’s on and Twitter is a great way for museums to do this.

However the success and popularity of the Tate is about much more than this. It’s thanks to the way they use Twitter. There are three simple characteristics of the way the Tate uses Twitter that all brands can learn from, and that contribute to their success:

  1. Informing - Twitter is great for information. Simple and straightforward information and the Tate is great for that. It uses Twitter to provide a one-stop-shop to find out what’s on, when and where at the Tate. Telling people about what is coming up and what is currently on. (See this typical informing Tweet)
  2. Responding - The Tate uses Twitter to respond to people who have been to their galleries. They ask people what they thought of their experience and respond to the feedback that they give. They also go out of their way to help people who have queries or problems and the manner in which they do this shows clearly that there are real people updating Twitter and interacting with people on it. (See how they have helped @gorgeousuk)
  3. Having fun - The Tate has a clear personality on Twitter and has fun that is relevant to the museum, its galleries and the interests of its followers. From fun photos inside the galleries to fun tweets they show that they are real people and that they really connect with their followers. I particularly like when they compare the weather on a day to pieces in their collection. (See this Tweet comparing this weekend’s weather to a John Samuel Raven study)

There is nothing particularly revolutionary about how the Tate is using Twitter, but that is the beauty of it. They have identified their target market and are using Twitter to inform, engage and entertain them. And they are doing it rather well.


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  1. Stuart Witts:

    Great article Matt.

    I’d just like to add that, even though they may not have as many followers, Bletchley Park have also been using Twitter in an impressive way and my experiences with them were so good I decided to tell the world… http://stayhappyanddontdie.com/?p=478

  2. Letsgosocial.nl » Blog Archive » Waarom een museum scoort op Twitter:

    [...] het artikel op Freshnetworks. AKPC_IDS += [...]

  3. New Orleans Lawyer:

    It’s nice to see businesses learn how to use Twitter effectively as a marketing tool. Great job to Tate.

  4. BestWicklessCandles:

    Great post. Twitter is still very new to me as a marketing tool, but I am learning everything I can and your article was very helpful. Thanks.

  5. Heineken & Tate Museum UK: A Tale Of Two Campaigns « HushPlush Bubble:

    [...] Second, a museum, the Tate Museum and why it’s the UK’s top brand on Twitter [...]

  6. Chris:

    Were media companies excluded? FT (http://www.twitter.com/financialtimes) have 133k followers at time of writing (on their main account) and Guardian has nearly 1.6m on their most popular account (http://twitter.com/guardiantech). Feels like there’ll be some other UK brands that have more than 106k followers on Twitter.

  7. James Whatley:

    Psst… That’s STA Travel US (not UK).

  8. James Whatley:

    Scratch that, a closer look at Famecount reveals that most of that data is flawed…


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