Not only is Twitter the place where most online conversations are unfolding, it's also the brand most likely to be mentioned in those conversations.
Research conducted by the social-media analytics firm Infegy -- which has ad-agency clients such as MEC and Ogilvy PR -- found that Twitter was far and away the most "social brand" of 2012 with mentions in more than 2.8 billion posts. Runners-up Apple and Facebook were far behind, with mentions in roughly 1.1 billion and 1 billion posts, respectively.
The posts examined come from three sources, according to Infegy's CEO Justin Graves. The Twitter firehose and public Facebook posts (roughly 1 to 2 million each day) account for roughly 60% of the data, while blogs and news sites where people are leaving comments make up the other 40%. Infegy's web crawler is largely looking for RSS feeds in the latter instance.
Mr. Graves noted that there's a "channel bias" that helps account for tech brands' domination of the top 10, which also includes Microsoft, Google, YouTube and Amazon. (Twitter and Apple also occupied the No. 1 and 2 spots last year.) The non-tech outliers were No. 5 Disney (greatly helped by its acquisition of Lucasfilm and the "Star Wars" franchise in October), No. 6 LG, and No. 10 BBC.
"Even though they're the chief British news outlet, [the BBC gets] cited and referenced all over the place," Mr. Graves explained.
Sentiment also counts for a lot in the rankings, which are scored by multiplying positivity percentage by total posts. For instance, Nike's 93% positivity score, which was enabled by well-received new products such as the Nike+ FuelBand, catapulted the brand into the No. 11 spot even though it had fewer mentions than the five brands that come after it: Ford, the NBA, Sony, the NFL and McDonald's.