Australian businesses and brands on Twitter

by James Duthie on February 25, 2009

For those who haven’t quite caught up with the news, I begrudgingly renounced my anti-Twitter stance recently.  It was a difficult move, particularly after I very publicly stated my disdain for the service. But ignore it as I may, I had to swallow my pride after the damn thing just kept growing at an exponential rate. Eventually contempt had to make way for professional necessity. So I joined. You can find me here. Connecting with people has been easy with lists like this. However,  trying to find Australian businesses on Twitter was infinitely harder. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a centralised resource listing Australian businesses on Twitter. So I decided to create one… because everyone loves a good list!

First off… I expect this list is far from exhaustive. Ultimately, I’d like it to be a collaborative effort, so if you know of a business I haven’t listed, drop me a comment and I’ll include it. My investigation has focused on bigger business as I am particularly interested in how large organisations attempt to leverage the new medium. But I’m sure adoption amongst nimbler small businesses is likely to be significant. Unfortunately, they’re just a little harder to track… so hit me up if you’re a small biz on Twitter. Also note that I’ve also excluded media organisations who are in the broadcast business as Twitter is simply another broadcast medium for them (newspapers, magazines, radio, blogs, tv).

Let’s take a look at the results (listed alphabetically):

Amnesty Australia

  • Date Joined: November 2nd, 2008
  • Traction: High. The Amnesty team have generated well over 500 followers in less than 6 months of usage. Amnesty does tend to follow a high proportion of Tweeters as compared to many other brands, so an element of re-follow is likely.
  • Participation Style: Broadcast. But like many charities/movements on Twitter, no-one is going to hold that against them. Tweets are dedicated to spreading messages of human rights, with recent Tweets focusing on topics such as violence against women, capital punishment & racism. Amnesty are relatively frequent Re-Tweeters of messages that fit their mission.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Non existent. Amnesty does not engage at all with other Tweeters, which is a missed opportunities as human rights issues are bound to be discussed frequently within Twitter’s walls.


  • Date Joined: December 11th, 2008
  • Hat Tip: Matt
  • Traction: Moderate. Atlassian has generated over 250 followers in a few months of activity.
  • Participation Style: Promotional broadcast. The Twitter account is used almost exclusively to promote new posts on the Atlassian blog. However, it does seem that the Atlassian team maintain separate personal accounts with the purpose of roaming Twitter to proactively connect with customer to provide support.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Non existent. None of the most recent 20 posts were active conversations with fellow Tweeters.


  • Date Joined: February 8th, 2009
  • Hat Tip: Mike
  • Traction: High. The Becks account has generated almost 500 followers in a short space of time. Admittedly, that probably has a whole lot to do with the product (beer) and an aggressive strategy of following other Tweeters.
  • Participation Style: High frequency broadcast. To be honest I’m not quite sure exactly what Becks is trying to achieve with the Uberselektor concept. Seems to be a branding initiative to appeal to the cool kids via music. On the micro site it states “searching out city life with a difference“. The Twitter feed is used to push out events notifications, most of which are DJ sets. Gen Y targeting methinks…
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Very low. Just one out of Becks’ last 20 Tweets was a response to a follower.


  • Date Joined: October 6th, 2008.
  • Traction: Amazing. This is a win for the little guys. Boardshop has over 1,500 followers, which is remarkable given the size of the business and the low participation level (less than 50 Tweets at the time of publishing). Clearly at some point these guys have effectively marketed their Twitter account. I guess it helps when you’ve got a hardcore & passionate customer base.
  • Participation Style: Promotional. Despite their heavy following, the Boardshop aren’t really leveraging Twitter to it’s potential. Tweeting rarely extends beyond product promotion. With a truly passionate customer base there has to be opportunities to connect with skaters, understand customer needs, build real loyalty and offer tickets to VIP events.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Non existent. None of the most recent 20 Tweets were active conversations with customers. Big opportunity missed. There must be tonnes of skaters out there Tweeting!

Cascade Brewery

  • Date Joined: October 15th, 2008
  • Traction: Moderate. Cascade Brewery has accumulated over 200 followers. However, I tend to think the beer factor is at play again rather than truly engaging Tweeting.
  • Participation Style: Spasmodic and irregular. I’m not sure Cascade have figured out how they want to use Twitter. Participation to this point has focused on the occasional news release and delivery of the ‘drink responsibly’ message. But one thing is for sure, with a passionate customer base, they could be doing plenty more!
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Moderate. Just under half of Cascade’s Tweets were responses to followers. But with only 15 Tweets it’s probably too early to identify a trend.


  • Date Joined: May 18th, 2008
  • Hat Tip: Laurel
  • Traction: Low. The CustomWare account has less than 100 followers.
  • Participation Style: A mixture of self promotion and cross promotion. Most of CustomWare’s Tweets direct followers to new content items on their web site. However, CustomWare also semi regularly promote events and products of industry partners such as Atlassian.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Non existent. None of the last 20 Tweets were direct responses to fellow Tweeters. However, niche brands have lesser scope for interaction as independent brand chatter is greatly reduced.

Domino’s Pizza

  • Date Joined: January 14th, 2009
  • Traction: Moderate. Domino’s have accrued a couple of hundred followers; but I suspect most are via reciprocal follows, as Domino’s follow a lot more people than most other companies.
  • Participation Style: Random. Like Cascade I doubt Domino’s have figured out exactly how they can use Twitter within their business. Here’s a suggestion – how about Tweeting me when the delivery guy has just left the store. Then I can have a good idea of when to expect the pizza?
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Low. Just over a quarter of Domino’s Tweets have been @ responses, but they do seem to reply when questions/comments are directed their way.

EMI Music

  • Date Joined: February 10th, 2009
  • Traction: High. EMI will surpass 500 followers soon after just a month of Twitter usage. Take note fellow Gen Y marketers.
  • Participation Style: Resourceful. EMI seems to be aiming to establish themselves as an information resource for music junkies. Participation focuses on linking to new artists, blogs and music videos for both Australian and international artists. EMI also semi regularly Retweets the work of other industry participants including Triple J.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Moderate. Five of the most recent 20 Tweets were responses to fellow members.

Fairfax Digital

  • Date Joined: March 4th, 2009
  • Hat Tip: Laurel
  • Traction: Moderate. Fairfax has generated over 300 followers in less than a month. However, it’s likely that many are employees, journalists and social media enthusiasts.
  • Participation Style: 100% promotional. Fairfax’s Tweets all serve a promotional purpose of some nature. Many of the Tweets point followers to a story published on one of their publications. Alternatively, a number of Tweets promote Fairfax journalists or properties.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Non existent. Fairfax has not engaged in a single conversation with a fellow Tweeter. It is early days in their usage however. Shall we give them the benefit of the doubt…? Nah!


  • Date Joined: September 30th, 2008
  • Traction: Moderate. iiNet has attracted over 250 followers.
  • Participation Style: Not quite broadcast, yet not quite customer support. Indeed, a recent Tweet confirmed that iiNet don’t intend to offer support via Twitter – “140 character limit + privacy issues mean we aren’t offering support over Twitter but try our experts on 13 22 58“. While proactive outreach isn’t the nature of participation, it does seem iiNet are happy to answer questions sent directly to them. The account has also been used to broadcast news related to service downtime.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Moderate. Over half of the most recent 20 Tweets were direct responses to fellow Tweeters.


  • Date Joined: August 31st, 2008
  • Traction: Moderate. Individuum has managed to accumulate over 100 followers, which isn’t half bad for a niche financial company I hadn’t heard of before today.
  • Participation Style: Promotional. Individuum implements a number of marketing tactics via Twitter. Firstly, they promote new posts on their corporate blog. And secondly, they run competitions via Twitter. Thus far, they are the only Australian business I have seen execute promotions via Twitter. Despite the skew towards marketing activity, their participation doesn’t come across as solely self serving.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Moderate. Almost half of their most recent 20 Tweets were @ responses.


  • Date Joined: January 20th, 2009
  • Traction: Low. The airline has less than 100 followers, but seems to be in the experimental phase of participation with less than 10 Tweets.
  • Participation Style: Broadcast. To this point Tweets have focused solely on fares/sales which is not likely to win them many fans in Twitter… unless they can provide unique offers to their followers in the style of Dell. Here’s an idea though… how unbelievably useful would real time flight information be via Twitter? If users could opt-in to Twitter updates for a single flight, after which their subscription expires, JetStar would suddenly have an extremely high value service for customers (Hat tip to @ianlyons for helping extend my thoughts in this area). Likewise, Connex could provide Twitter updates on train delays and cancellations for specific train lines. It may not improve their ridiculously bad service, but it may help me plan my day just a little bit better.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Non existent. JetStar have not engaged in a single conversation via Twitter.

Melbourne IT

  • Date Joined: December 2nd, 2008
  • Traction: Moderate considering participation to this stage. Melbourne IT have generated almost 100 followers without any real form of action, which shows the potential of the medium with a tech savvy audience.
  • Participation Style: Broadcast. Tweets to this point have spruiked offers, press releases and new services. Surely there’s an opportunity to create a help desk environment and aid customers with their technical problems via Twitter.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Low. Just one Tweet has been a direct response to a conversation started by another Tweeter.


  • Date Joined: September 2nd, 2008
  • Traction: Moderate. NetRegistry has accumulated over 100 followers, although I suspect they’re piggy backing off the awareness of Jonathon Crossfield (@Kimota), one of Australia’s higher profile marketing bloggers, and chief Tweeter for Netregistry.
  • Participation Style: Balanced self promotion. Jonathon implements a range of participation tactics within Twitter. The primary objective is the promotion of new articles on the Netregistry blog, which are shared via Twitter. However, this broadcast approach is balanced by sharing quality resources from third party sites. This tactic is often employed by marketing and social media experts within Twitter to ensure accusations of excessive self promotion do not eventuate.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Moderate. Jonathon is an experienced Tweeter, and therefore knows the importance of engaging with the community. Although recent activity has been closer to a broadcast style, historical behaviour is far closer to a 50/50 split between broadcast and real conversations.


  • Date Joined: April 13th, 2008
  • Traction: Very High. The Oxfam account is approaching the landmark of 1,000 followers. Charities continue to be popular on Twitter.
  • Participation Style: Primarily broadcast. Most Tweets are aimed at building awareness for the various causes Oxfam is promoting including sweatshop abolishment, ecosystem protection & Aboriginal affairs. Links point both to the Oxfam site and any other web properties hosting appropriate information.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Low. None of the most recent 20 Tweets were active conversations with members. However, historical behaviour does show minor levels of interaction with the community.

Rio Tinto

  • Date Joined: April 22nd, 2008
  • Hat Tip: Eric
  • Traction: Moderate. Rio Tinto has accumulated over 250 followers, which is relatively high in comparison to other brands. However, the result is modest given the significant advantage in brand awareness that Rio Tinto experience over many other organisations on the list.
  • Participation Style: Broadcast. Rio Tinto utilise Twitter as little more than a press room for their media releases. Indeed, almost all Tweets are link drops to content from the media release section of their corporate web site. The dry nature of their media releases means the only people likely to follow their Tweets are journalists and industry pundits.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Very low. Of the most recent 20 Tweets, just 1 was a direct response to a fellow Tweeter.


  • Date Joined: June 1st, 2008
  • Traction: High. RMIT has generated more followers than many mainstream businesses, which is impressive for an educational institution.
  • Participation Style: Broadcast/Interactive. RMIT regularly broadcast university news via Twitter, as well as promoting events such as expo’s and festivals. Aside from the news broadcast, they also proactively monitor and respond to anyone mentioning RMIT in the Twitter-sphere. Is it a worry that RMIT manage Twitter better than most Australian businesses…?
  • Audience Engagement Rate: High. With proactive monitoring of the RMIT brand name, almost half of the 20 most recent Tweets were responses to fellow Tweeters.


  • Date Joined: February 11th, 2009
  • Traction: Moderate. In less than a month, the RSPCA has managed to attract almost a hundred followers. I’m sure this will grow over time as awareness spreads.
  • Participation Style: Random. Participation hasn’t seemed to serve any real purpose aside from advertising a couple of job vacancies within the organisation. Which is a shame because the aftermath of the recent Victorian bushfires has left many animals in need of care. Twitter could have been used to post pics of individual animals requiring adoption, thereby leveraging the massive wave of goodwill cascading through Twitter.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Moderate. Over a third of the RSPCA’s Tweets have been to fellow members, although most are simply thank you messages for following. The RSPCA is yet to utilise Twitter  for real conversations.

STA Travel

  • Date Joined: December 18th, 2008
  • Traction: Very High. The STA Travel account is closing in on 1,000 followers. Although admittedly, targeting the student demographic means Twitter penetration rates are far higher in their target audience.
  • Participation Style: Balanced self promotion. Other players in the travel industry take note! STA Travel does broadcast offer based Tweets regularly. But this promotional behaviour is balanced with other constructive participation styles, including linking to interesting third party content, posting photos & engaging with customers. See what acting like a human can achieve…
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Low. Of the most recent 20 Tweets, only two were actual conversations with fellow Tweeters. However, the historical rate does tend to be a little higher than this.


  • Date Joined: September 24th, 2008
  • Traction: High. The BigPond Team has accumulated over 500 followers within 6 months of creating the account. However, I do suspect a fair proportion of those followers are social enthusiasts such as myself (keenly watching how a major corporate adopts the medium) rather than actual customers.
  • Participation Style: Customer support is clearly the name of the game, ala ComCast. The Telstra team seem to have Twitter alerts established for keywords such as ‘Telstra’ and ‘BigPond’. BigPond’s Twitter team then proactively contact customer’s complaining about the service. The short-term objective is problem resolution. The long-term objective is customer retention.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Very high. Of the most recent 20 Tweets, 16 were directly addressed to fellows Tweeters.

Tourism NSW

  • Date Joined: November 8th, 2008
  • Traction: Very High. The Tourism NSW account has accumulated almost 1,000 followers.
  • Participation Style: Broadcast & Interactive. The Tourism NSW team regularly use Twitter to send out links to new content on their site. However, participation is not limited to broadcast. It seems they have set up an impressive proactive monitoring processes. From what I can see they have monitoring set up on popular locations (Eg. Byron Bay) and are proactively connecting with people mentioning the destination, and providing content when relevant. Great work!
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Moderate. Of the last 20 Tweets, 10 were direct responses to other Tweeters, which is indicative of an organisation actively reaching out to members.

Tourism Queensland

  • Date Joined: October 25th, 2008
  • Traction: Amazing! The Tourism Queensland account has almost 3,000 followers. This is undoubtedly due to the roaring global success of their best job in the world campaign, which is clearly one of the best viral campaigns ever run from Australia. It will be interesting to see if the account continues to build momentum once the campaign concludes.
  • Participation Style: Interactive. Activity within Twitter focuses solely on the progress of the promotion. Many of the Tweets are dedicated to encouraging voting behaviour from their followers base. However, a healthy proportion of Tweets are also responses to people chatting about the promotion. Whoever is running the Tourism Queensland Twitter account certainly knows what they are doing.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Moderate. Exactly half of Tourism Queensland’s most recent 20 Tweets were responses to fellow Tweeters.

Tourism Western Australia

  • Date Joined: January 20th, 2009
  • Traction: High. Tourism Western Australia have attracted over 500 followers in a handful of months.
  • Participation Style: Broadcast. Tourism WA are not as progressive in their application of Twitter as their cohorts in Queensland & NSW. The account is predominantly used to promote offers and attractions within the State. On a positive note, they do seem to be involved in aiding @twitchhiker as he travels Australia to raise money for charity.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Low. Whilst they have engaged with twitchhiker, there is little other evidence of audience engagement.

Virgin Blue

  • Date Joined: July 30th, 2008
  • Traction: Moderate. Despite a fleeting attempt at using Twitter, Virgin Blue has attracted over 200 followers. Not bad given they only ever contributed 4 Tweets.
  • Participation Style: Broadcast. The few Tweets ever published were advertisements for sales/fares.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Non existent. While it’s hard to tell from such a limited implementation, it didn’t seem as if Virgin Blue were interested in interacting with fellow Tweeters.


  • Date Joined: December 17th, 2008
  • Traction: Moderate. Vodafone has attracted over 100 subscribers in a couple of months since creating the account.
  • Participation Style: Broadcast. Vodafone is using Twitter solely as a distribution channel for press releases, often linking directly to PDF media releases. Ugh. The type of news reported via Twitter includes Vodafone’s merger with Hutchison and quarterly sales results. It makes me wonder how many of their followers are employees, because I doubt many others would be interested in their Tweets.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Non existent. Vodafone has never entered into a two-way discussion with a fellow Tweeter.


  • Date Joined: March 18th, 2009
  • Traction: Moderate. At the time of publishing the account was just a week old, yet Vogue has already accumulated over 200 followers. Clearly, Vogue has done some form of promotion of their Twitter account already.
  • Participation Style: It’s far too early to tell with just two Tweets. Both Tweets related to a fashion festival, with one linking to a video hosted on the Vogue web site.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Again, far too early to tell how Vogue will engage with their customers & audience.


  • Date Joined: January 24th, 2009
  • Traction: Non existent. The Westpac account has just a handful of followers, which is unsurprising given they’ve only made a handful of Tweets. The most recent Tweet gives the impression that Westpac will begin actively using the account soon – “just working through a couple of things before getting this going“.
  • Participation Style: The name of the account (Westpac_help) indicates that Westpac will be taking the customer support route.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Too early to tell.


  • Date Joined: December 17th, 2008
  • Traction: Amazing. WWF has amassed almost 2,000 followers. See what a good cause can do.
  • Participation Style: Predominantly self promotional. But I guess that’s ok when we’re talking about global conservation. Twitter activity focuses on the promotion of current conservation issues. For example, almost all WWF’s recent Tweets are dedicated to the spreading the word on Earth Hour.
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Moderate. Of the most recent 20 Tweets, 5 were active conversations with a fellow Tweeter.


  • Date Joined: October 11th, 2008
  • Hat Tip: Laurel
  • Traction: Low. Zuji has less than 100 followers.
  • Participation Style: Broadcast. Like JetStar & Virgin Blue, Zuji has used Twitter solely to blast their small follower base with offers. Yawn. Doesn’t seem as if anyone within the travel industry looks at their competitor’s activity to see what isn’t working… Perhaps even worse, all offers point users to Zuji’s home page rather than deep linking them to a specific offer page. Eek!
  • Audience Engagement Rate: Non existent. Like their travel industry partners, it seems Zuji has little interest in actually talking to customers.

And one final piece of insight that amused me. I noticed that both the AFL and NRL are on Twitter. However, I excluded both brands from the list as they are only ever likely to use the service to broadcast news. Interestingly, the AFL had almost 700 followers. The NRL had less than 50 followers. Which is proof once and for all that NRL supporters are unsophisticated neanderthals when compared to the average AFL fan…! :)

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{ 14 trackbacks }

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