Fast-Growing Companies Use Social Media More (But 'More' Is As Little As Just One Tweet)


America's fastest-growing companies are significantly more likely to use social media than their larger, established peers, according to two studies by the UMass Dartmouth's Center for Marketing Research.

The UMass Dartmouth center conducted longitudinal surveys of the Inc. 500, which lists the fastest-growing companies in the U.S., and the Fortune 500, listing the largest companies, to determine how many have adopted different types of social media. According to the UMass Dartmouth comparisons, 71% of the fast-growing companies on the Inc. 500 list said they have Facebook pages, while 59% use Twitter, 50% maintain a corporate blog, and 33% use bulletin boards.

All these figures are up from 2009, when 61% said they used Facebook, 52% used Twitter, 45% maintained a corporate blog, and 28% used bulletin boards. In terms of rules governing social media use, 34% of the Inc. 500 said they have policies guiding employee blogging.

As noted the large, established companies on the Fortune 500 list indexed much lower in social media usage virtually across the board. The proportion using Facebook was 56% in 2010, while the number maintaining a corporate blog edged up from 22% in 2009 to 23% in 2010. In keeping with these disparities, just 20% of the Fortune 500 said they had rules governing employee blogging.

Interestingly Twitter was an important exception, with the percentage using Twitter increasing from 25% in 2009 to 60% in 2010; however, because the study set the bar pretty low for the Fortune 500 study -- just asking if there was a Twitter account with one tweet in the last month -- so it's hard to know just what this means.

3 comments about "Fast-Growing Companies Use Social Media More (But 'More' Is As Little As Just One Tweet) ".
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  1. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, January 28, 2011 at 4:13 p.m.

    This is a great chicken/egg question. Too often social media advocates take studies like this and try to use them to show us that we can conclude that these companies are growing because they are using social media.

    Of course, this means nothing of the sort. My guess is that it means that they grow because they test lots of things and are always exploring new things - with social media as just one example of this testing.

    Interesting research...

  2. Kenneth Hittel from Ken Hittel, January 30, 2011 at 1:39 p.m.

    @DougGarnett: couldn't agree more. the fortune 100 company i work for -- we're 60-something on the list -- once advertised itself as "large, conservative, and dull," but we're one of only a couple life insurers that has grown consistently over the past several years. we embraced social -- & since i'm in charge of those efforts i'd love to believe that social played the major role in that growth -- but, realistically, not so much. a focus on innovation, a willingness to take intelligent risk -- after all, the essence of our business is managing risk -- a culture that supports test & test & test again (including social) -- are all part of the mix.

  3. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, January 31, 2011 at 1:44 p.m.

    @Kenneth Appreciate your thoughts. Reminds me that keeping a Fortune 100 at the top of its game is a systemic issue affecting the entire corporate ecosystem - something that goes far beyond mere excellence in one area.

    Ah, but we do love the idea that excellence in one thing makes it all better.

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