The Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and the Use of Social Media

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The always insightful Bill Ives over at the FASTforward Blog has alerted me to a study from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth‘s Center for Marketing Research (CMR) study on the use of social media by the Fortune 500 and Inc. 500.

After you finish reading SMB Research‘s comments here, pay a visit to the Fastforward Blog to read Bill Ives insights.

This study, which came out in October, offers some interesting insights:

  • In the Fortune 500, twenty-three percent (23%) of the companies have blogs according to this study.
  • This seems absurdly low to me, but some reasons for this may be found in the challenges of doing such a census that the author of the study, Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, points out.

    It is a laborious and problematic process, for example, to identify all of the subsidiaries and associated entities of every corporation.  (For this reason, this study specifically focused on the “corporate level” of the “primary/listed corporation”.)    Also, although this defies logic and common sense, companies seem to not always make it very easy to find the site that serves as their external facing blog.  (Ms. Barnes claims that Exxon has a corporate blog. I have yet to be able to find it.)

  • This is up significantly from 2008, but not very much from 2009.  The conclusion that this study makes is that the adoption of blogs is leveling off.
  • This study indicates that the percentage of companies in the Inc. 500 having blogs is nearly twice that of companies on the Fortune 500.  Much of this is due, of course, to the different mix of companies on the Inc500  vs. the Fortune500.
  • Another interesting observation from this study is that more than twice as many Fortune500 companies have twitter accounts as have blogs.

The takeways from this study for me are that many companies are still not leveraging blogs to the extent that they could to have an ongoing conversation with their customers, partners, and other industry participants, and that many companies are not realizing the possible synergistic benefits from a simultaneous and complementary use of a blog and twitter together.

When a med device conference came to town last year, I did an unscientific survey of the attending companies to see which had blogs.  Some of these companies seemed to me to be smaller companies, and some were not med device companies themselves but were more industrial product-type companies serving the med device sector.  Perhaps it is therefore unsurprising that the rate of blog use for these companies was rather low.  For some companies – small companies, with lower visibility, greater need for marketing, and stores that need telling and/or products that need explaining – there may be a particular value to having a blog on your website.

There is obviously a lot more to be said here.  SMB Research will have more to say on this topic.  In the meantime, feel free to reach out to us to have a conversation about what this means for you.  Not just customized for you – personalized for you.

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