Monday, December 7

Going Social: Inc. 500 Companies

The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, released a new study that tracks social media usage among Inc. 500 companies. It has tracked social media adoption among Inc. 500 companies since 2007, when it noted the fastest-growing companies tended to adopt social media at a faster rate than Fortune 500 companies.

Highlights From Center for Marketing Research 2009 Study

• Social networking leads in adoption. Seventy-five percent of Inc. 500 companies are very familiar with social networking, which is up from 57 percent in 2008.

• Twitter, far and away, is among the most adopted social networking tools being adopted by Inc. 500 companies, with 75 percent saying that they are very familiar with it.

• Social media is mainstream. Forty-three percent of Inc. 500 companies consider social media important to their business, with 91 percent of Inc. 500 companies employing at least one tool in 2009.

• With the exception of Twitter, 87 percent of companies employing social media report that the tool they use has been successful for them. (Twitter returned an 82 percent success measure.) However, most companies seem to overemphasize the importance of hits and comments as successful measures.

• Blogging follows social networking, but remains well ahead of other social media tools, with 67 percent of Inc. 500 companies saying they are very familiar with blogging and 45 percent hosting at least one blog. Blogs were also among the top cited tools to be adopted by companies not currently engaged in social media.

• Message/bulletin boards, online video, podcasting, and wikis have all tapered off in interest, with less than 50 percent of Inc. 500 companies very familiar with the tools.

While adoption is high, execution is haphazard.

Despite the high adoption rate, most companies seem to be adopting social media without a communication strategy. While 87 percent use social media, only 70 percent monitor their brands, only 46 percent consider social media very important, and only 36 percent have a written employee policy. Less than 40 percent employ social media for any other communication, such as with vendors, suppliers, and partners.

Based on the study, it seems most Inc. 500 companies are adopting social media tools that are among the most reported about, with little regard to benchmarking, or establishing measures beyond reach. For the most part, Inc. 500 companies become involved in networks that enjoy the most media coverage, regardless of their audience. In contrast, more than half use social media to screen potential employees.

It is important to note that only 148 of the Inc. 500 companies participated. However, the participation rate is approximately the same as previous years, which suggests trending might be the most important aspect of the study. The full report is available online.

Earlier this year, the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, also released a benchmark review of Fortune 500 companies' blog adoption. It found 16 percent (81) of Fortune 500 companies hosted blogs, with 38 percent of those with blogs belonging to the Fortune 100.



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