There are tons of companies that had barely dipped a toe in the advertising waters (or, worse still, companies that did so poorly), at least until the advent of social media. Now, no more: it's an essential part of any comms strategy.

You could say a corporation is essentially required to do so in today's age, or else shareholders could quickly lose the narrative in the face of fans and customers. It's unheard of to look into a company and not find data about it on LinkedIn, Microsoft's ($NASDAQ:MSFT) social networking site for professionals, for example. 

We looked into global microblogging service Twitter ($NYSE:TWTR), online juggernaut of destroying democracy and self-esteem Facebook ($NASDAQ:FB), and its photo-sharing baby Instagram, to find out what companies are the biggest on each platform.

LinkedIn

Name

LinkedIn Followers

Employee Count

Google

14.31 million

179.55 thousand

Amazon

11.06 million

336.82 thousand

LinkedIn

10.22 million

19.37 thousand

Microsoft

9.36 million

171.36 thousand

Apple

8.95 million

183.60 thousand

Unilever

8.26 million

107.02 thousand

Nestle

8.12 million

147.20 thousand

Business Insider

7.71 million

3.23 thousand

IBM

7.56 million 502.13 thousand

The Wall Street Journal

6.67 million 7.05 thousand

Facebook

5.18 million 57.36 thousand

Tesla

4.98 million 29.29 thousand

First up is the list of the most followed companies on LinkedIn, the place where we all go when "between jobs." You can see the biggest companies in terms of employee count are the most closely tracked, like IBM ($NYSE:IBM), Unilever ($NYSE:UN), and Nestle ($VTX:NESN). And, what will be a reoccurring note in this article, the four horsemen of the financial apocalypse are all in the millions of followers: Facebook, Apple ($NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon, and Google ($NASDAQ:GOOG). Otherwise known as FAANG. It turns out people really want to work at those companies.

Bonus shout out to Microsoft for double-dipping in the top five with itself and LinkedIn. Smart move there, Microsoft.

Facebook

Name

Facebook Likes

Talking About Count

YouTube

84.05 million

350.15 thousand

McDonald's

79.83 million

556

Nat Geo TV

63.64 million

14.36 thousand

WWE

39.55 million

1.49 million

Starbucks

36.84 million

113.25 thousand

L'Oreal Paris

35.53 million

623

Maybelline New York

35.04 million

5.26 thousand

VW

34.12 million

94.89 thousand

Marvel

32.94 million 29.48 thousand

Pizza Hut

31.88 million 921

Food Network

31.86 million 267.25 thousand

Victoria's Secret

29.55 million 130.35 thousand
Amazon 29.31 million 143.44 thousand

One wonders if it's tough to digest, around Facebook, that the number-one brand on their platform is Google's YouTube.

Here we find the usual suspects (YouTube/Google, Amazon, Marvel/Disney, etc.) but also some companies that don't appear anywhere else on this list. We figure when everyone first started using Facebook, we all just naturally clicked "like" on the things we all love, namely food (Pizza Hut, McDonald's, Starbucks), entertainment (WWE, Nat Geo, Food Network), and sex appeal (L'Oreal, Maybelline, Victoria's Secret). 

Twitter

Name

Twitter Followers

Number of Tweets

YouTube

72.13 million

24.32 thousand

Twitter

56.86 million

12.53 thousand

New York Times

44.65 million

380.71 thousand

ESPN

34.60 million

197.55 thousand

National Geographic

23.56 million

52.65 thousand

Google

21.65 million

103.96 thousand

Manchester United

20.74 million

56.66 thousand

PlayStation

17.46 million

32.55 thousand

The Wall Street Journal

17.09 million 294.42 thousand

Xbox

13.69 million 254.98 thousand

Facebook

13.50 million 13.30 thousand

Again, the members of the popular investor acronym FAANG appear, this time with Twitter ($NYSE:TWTR) itself thrown into the mix. There are also more entertainment geared accounts, as well as hard news, which concise tweets are best for. Quick blasts and blurbs of news or videos are phenomenal for ESPN, the NY Times, WSJ, and both console makers, Sony ($NYSE:SNE) and Microsoft.

Instagram

Name

Instagram Followers

Number of posts

Nike

96.08 million

763

Victoria's Secret

68.66 million

401

Louis Vuitton

35.83 million

3.92 thousand

Dior

28.79 million

6.06 thousand

Adidas

24.97 million

755

BMW

24.40 million

6.24 thousand

Mercedes Benz

24.25 million

13.23 thousand

YouTube

22.88 million

1.93 thousand

Prada

22.12 million

5.24 thousand

Disney

22.07 million

4.66 thousand

Apple

20.91 million

576

Calvin Klein

20.01 million

5.39 thousand

Starbucks

18.47 million

1.91 thousand

Finally, we have Instagram, the hippest and most youthful of the social media platforms. That's if the kids still use it, which maybe they're onto TikTok or Snapchat or something else, we can't keep up. The most visually interesting brands (fashion, clothing, makeup, and food) make their debuts on a list.

There are a lot of interesting companies who have millions of followers we should mention too: WWE, Sephora, Starbucks, Vans, UFC, Go Pro, Google, Urban Outfitters, Hollister Co., Adobe Photoshop, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Whole Foods, Lululemon, DKNY, Microsoft, Amazon, Burberry, Michael Kors, ESPN, Fendi, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany, Foot Locker, Puma, Marc Jacobs, and Under Armour.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: