Apple has come second to internet auction house eBay in the 50 Top Brands in Social Media league table as compiled by marketing firm Alterian.

In fact, the top five brands were technology companies - eBay, Apple, Google, BlackBerry (RIM) and Amazon - with the highest placed non-technology brand being Gucci, in sixth place.

The results were ranked according to Alterian's Social Media Reputation (SMR) score which measures how many people are talking about a brand on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and whether what they say is positive or negative. Human analysis of the messages is used so sarcastic posts aren't incorrectly interpreted, Alterian said.

David Eldridge, CEO of Alterian said: “This research shows that brands that rank the highest are those that engage with customers through the right channels, listen to what they are saying, and respond to them transparently and effectively.”

“Surprisingly, brand giant Coca-Cola, which is ranked in first position in the Interbrand Best Global Brands ranking system, has come in at 24th. Eventhough the company has implemented a number of social media tools to engagewith customers, both consumers and businesses, it goes to show how important it is to engage with their audience in the right way," he continued.

According to Alterian, eBay's success is based on its large and popular customer forums, corporate blogs, as well as its use of Facebook and Twitter. The company was praised by Alterian for its adoption of Facebook’s Open Graph which lets a group of customers split the cost of a gift and pay for their share via Paypal.

Apple's recent social media activities include a new Twitter account and Facebook page for the App Store. Apple also integrated its own social-networking project Ping with Twitter in November last year.