Fortune 500 Blogs Validate Social Media Presence

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research released one of the first studies on social media adoption among the F500 in 2008, and has repeated that study every year since. The study has been expanded over the years to include the usage of the fastest growing social media platforms and tools (Instagram, Google+, Foursquare and Pinterest), the business networking platform LinkedIn, as well as indicators of engagement (such as the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers).

Because of the hugely influential role that the Fortune 500 companies play in the business world, studying their adoption and use of social media blogs offers important insights into the future of commerce, says the report. These corporations provide a look at emergent social media trends among America’s most successful companies.

N.B. The definition used to locate 2014 F500 corporations with blogs: A company was counted as having a blog if they had a public-facing corporate blog from the primary corporation with current posts.

Key findings of this study include:

  • In 2014, 31% of the studied companies had corporate blogs, showing a decrease of 3% in use of this tool in the past year
  • 83% of the Fortune 500 have corporate Twitter accounts with a tweet in the past thirty days. This represents a 6% increase since 2013
  • 80% of the Fortune 500 are now on Facebook. This represents a 10% increase since 2013
  • The  2011 F500 study drew attention for the leveling off of blogging with only 23% hosting a public facing corporate blog.  In 2012, though, there was a leap forward and 28% hosted public facing blogs. That surge continued in 2013 showing 34% of these corporate giants creating and sharing content through blogs

Adoption of this mature social media tool by these great companies seemed to signal the return of the online in depth conversation, thought leadership and original content development that was popular a decade ago with early corporate adopters of blogging. In this latest iteration a 3% decline in blogging, with 157 companies using the most mature social media tool, is documented. It remains to be seen, says the report, if this is the beginning of a movement away from this iconic tool, replacing it with newer communications tools.  At this time, there is no indication that blogging in other business sectors is waning.

The 157 corporations with blogs come from 58 of the 72 industries represented in the 2014 F500. A partial list is presented below showing the companies with the largest presence on the list and the percent with a corporate blog. 

Corporate Blogs by Industry

 

Number of Companies w/Blogs

Percent

Specialty Retailers

11/25

44%

Food Consumer Products

4/13

31%

Chemicals

3/15

20%

Commercial Banks

3/18

17%

Utilities: Gas and Electric

2/23

9%

Mining Crude-Oil Production

1/15

7%

Source: UMassDartmouth, August 2014

According to the report, rank influences adoption of blogging in the F500, and those corporations ranked in the top 200, have consistently out blogged those in the bottom 200. This continues to hold with 45% of all F500 blogs coming from the top 200 corporations and 36% coming from those ranked 300-500 on the list.

In 2014, 78% of the F500 blogs are interactive and kept current, take comments, have RSS feeds and take subscriptions. Those companies that have made the decision to blog have utilized the tool well. There is frequent posting, on-going discussion and the ability to follow the conversation easily through RSS or email subscriptions.

In the past, the F500 companies were blogging at a lower rate than other business groups, specifically the Inc. 500.  The Inc. 500 list is composed of the fastest-growing, private companies in the US, while the F500 is based on total revenue (not growth), and may include public and private companies.

In 2012, 44% of the Inc. 500 had corporate blogs while the 2012 F500 had 28%. 34% percent of the F500 companies were hosting corporate blogs in 2013 while 52% of the Inc. 500 used the tool. 

Four hundred and thirteen companies (83%) of the F500 have corporate Twitter accounts with a tweet in the past thirty days. This represents a 6% increase over last year.

For the first time in these studies, the 413 corporations with corporate Twitter accounts come from all 72 industries represented in the F500. Even those industries that have typically shunned social media like Tobacco, Pipelines, Forest and Paper, now have at least one of their F500 companies with a Twitter account.

Corporate Twitter Accounts by Industry

Industry

Number of Companies w/Twitter Accounts

Percent

Food Consumer Products

13/13

100%

Commercial Banks

17/18

94%

Chemicals

14/15

93%

Utilities: Gas and Electric

21/23

91%

Specialty Retailers

21/25

84%

Mining Crude-Oil Production

10/15

67%

Source: UMassDartmouth, August 2014

On Twitter, one measure of engagement is followers. Ironically it is the popular Facebook (in only its second year on the F500 list) that has the highest number of followers on Twitter, followed by Starbucks, Microsoft, The Walt Disney Company, Whole Foods Market, Inc., Nike Inc. and Intel Corporation.

Twitter Followers

Corporation

2014 Twitter Followers

Facebook, Inc.

13,800,000

Starbucks Corporation

6,330,000

Microsoft

4,290,000

The Walt Disney Company

3,760,000

Whole Foods Market, Inc.

3,750,000

Nike, Inc.

3,410,000

Intel Corporation

3,400,000

Source: UMassDartmouth, August 2014

 

Four hundred and one (80%) of the F500 are now on Facebook. This represents a 10% increase over last year. All of the top 10 companies, from all 72 industries represented in the F500, have corporate Facebook pages. A partial list shows those industries with the greatest presence in the F500

Top Facebook Accounts

Corporation

2014 Facebook Fans

Facebook, Inc.

154,900,000

Coca-Cola

87,079,000

The Walt Disney Company

48,200,000

Starbucks Corporation

37,000,000

Wal-Mart Stores

34,600,000

McDonald's Corporation

31,500,000

Source: UMassDartmouth, August 2014

The report continues, listing and describing the activities on a variety of additional social media sites

  • YouTube (Video Sharing Site)
  • Pinterest (Pin Board-Style Photo Sharing and Social Networking Site)
  • Google+ (Multilingual Social Networking and Identity Service Site)
  • Instagram (Photo-Sharing and Social Networking Site)
  • Foursquare (Location-Based Social Networking Site)
  • LinkedIn (Business Oriented Social Networking Site)

Last year, 44 (9%) of the 2013 F500 had corporate Foursquare accounts for use on mobile devices. Currently, 254 companies are using Foursquare or 51% of the F500.  Foursquare can serve as almost a Yellow Pages or Yelp-like outlet providing a business with a landing page for contact information, directions, descriptions, coupons, pictures etc. With only a $10 fee to verify claim to a site, it provides a footprint on a platform that claims 20 million visitors using their mobile devices to locate businesses.

Concluding, the report says that the 2014 Fortune 500 has now fully embraced new communications tools that have taken so many other sectors by storm. In the past year, these business giants have increased their adoption of newer tools (introduced in the past 5 years) by 12%-42%.  Foursquare enjoys the largest increase in adoption, while Pinterest use increased by 27% and Instagram by 12%. Two older tools saw slight declines with blogging down by 3% and YouTube with a 2% decrease in use. 

These giant corporations are demonstrating an interest in experimenting with new tools. In every case, there is current activity and vibrant engagement of their audiences.  New strategies around the use of Foursquare and Pinterest for these businesses are quickly evolving.

It is clear that these businesses now seem comfortable, and even excited, with their newfound ability to engage its vendors, partners, customers and others in ways that could not have been imagined when most of their corporations began.  Judging by the increased use of tools, fans and followers, they are making some very powerful new connections. 

For additional information included in the complete report, please visit here.

 

 

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