The Top 100 Social Media Brands -- Or, Sex Doesn't Just Sell, It Socializes

As usual, I've been spending way too much quality time mulling over something only the readers of this column, and yours truly, might care about: Vitrue's second annual list of the top social media brands.


 After looking it over from the iPhone (#1), to Comcast (#100), here's what I've decided: that, as it always does, sex sells -- in this case, because it socializes.

 No, Playboy didn't make the list, but when you look at who did, they are almost all brands that, using the broadest sense of the term, are inherently sexy. I speak of brands like Mercedes (#17), the NBA (#5) and Nike (#10). Of  KFC (66), BestBuy (#22) and MTV (#4). In short, they are almost all brands that speak to the gratification engine that super-charges our souls, that makes life worth living -- and a BMW (#20) worth purchasing.

 So, why do I point this out? Because it makes me wonder what the social possibilities are -- or aren't -- for brands that merely serve instead of gratify. I counted six consumer packaged goods companies on the list, and even them, including outlier Nutella (#42), were what I would define as sexy. (I mean, who, really, can resist a spread made partially out of chocolate?) The CPG list was rounded out by Coca-Cola (#31), Pepsi (#73), Red Bull (#47), Avon (#97) and Skittles (#65). No Tide or Hamburger Helper here.

Vitrue says its Vitrue 100 "is the result of Vitrue's daily analysis of over 2,000 popular brands on the social web." It looks at things like sharing behaviors, blogging and status updates to determine what is really happening.

 In short, it looks at the chatter around brands. But, as an aside, it is also, for some brands, a reflection of their participation in the social environment. Is it possible that the appearance of Skittles, Comcast and CNN (#3) are a direct result of how they've injected their brands with social adrenaline? Probably so.

 >So let's get back to those boring brands that may not be able to build enough fan pages and Twitter feeds to ever make Vitrue's list. There are a few things that we know at this point about social media:

 1.      That the Web is becoming a social place, where invitations to become a brand's Facebook fan and Twitter follower are everywhere.

2.      That the social Web has vastly increased the fragmentation of media. Many brand messages are increasingly crowded out.

3.      That from an ad targeting perspective, the overlay of social data on top of things like demographic and behavioral data has the potential to tilt ad targeting toward the brands and categories that people are already talking about.

 In essence, what all this means for boring brands is that, as Vitrue director of marketing Gretchen Miller told me, they are going to have to create passion around their brands. All, I'd add, while being transparent and authentic in a sea of products that are the ones people more naturally want to spend time with. Want a marketing challenge for the 21st century? How to appear sexy when you really aren't.

Editor's note: The agenda for OMMA Social SF, at the Hotel Nikko on Jan. 26, is shaping up. Take a look here.

5 comments about "The Top 100 Social Media Brands -- Or, Sex Doesn't Just Sell, It Socializes".
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  1. Maryanne Conlin from RedRopes Digital/4GreenPs, January 6, 2010 at 6:46 p.m.

    Interesting list- what struck me was the top social brand, for the most part seem to be ...male-oriented. Though there are a few brands that target women, it's amazing to me that so few of them made the list of top sm brands.

    Also - so called "boring" brands don't need to try to be something they are not. To be successful in social media doesn't mean you have to be the top social brand. it means you need to be the top social brand with your target market. A good brand already has created their target market just move that online and you've got a slam dunk success..even if you don't make the "top social brands" list.

  2. M.j. Paxton from Bountiful Wi-Fi, January 7, 2010 at 3:08 a.m.

    I did enjoy reading this post, but noticed that this would have worked better as TWO posts: one on the Top 100 list and another on the current reach and scope of social media.

    Overall, though, I enjoyed the article!

  3. Marc Engelsman from Digital Brand Expressions, January 7, 2010 at 9:13 a.m.

    I hate lists like this that so often lead to false objectives and/or expectations for social media success. Well designed social media campaigns that produce true bottom-line ROI are sexy to us -- and our clients.

  4. Swag Valance from Trash, Inc., January 7, 2010 at 1:07 p.m.

    How ironic that the #1, "sexy" brand refuses to publish "sexy" apps.

  5. Sean Clark from Sage Brand Directions, January 7, 2010 at 4:25 p.m.

    Hopefully there won't be a third annual list.

    While most lists are a bit shallow and not all that useful other than a nice-to-know factoid after a couple of bourbons, this one is completely void of any value. Typically a ranking is used to indicate success in the context of business advance/competitive performance/entertainment value, etc. This one seems like a total waste of reading as it obviously doesn't subscribe to that as many of the brands are financial, competitive or entertainment Titanic's given the rate they're sinking.
    But while the list you unfortunately had to write something on is a foul ball, your commentary regarding the needs for brands to gratify vs. serve is dead on in my opinion. And although the "sexy" thing is a bit of a stretch, it did make me read the piece so touché.

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