Inc. 500 And Fortune 500 Latching On To Social Media

According toThe Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth annual in-depth study on the usage of social media in the fastest-growing corporations in the US, the use of LinkedIn by Inc. 500 companies grew to 88% this year, maintaining the number one spot.  This latest iteration proves that social media has penetrated parts of the business world at a tremendous speed, showing that corporate usage of social media within the Inc. 500 has changed in the past 12 months. 

This is the first year the study has included Google+ and Instagram.  Increases in YouTube and Pinterest along with the use of Instagram, show that the visual media platforms are becoming increasingly more attractive to the Inc. 500. Facebook saw a resurgence to 84% after dropping 7% in 2012, and the following also saw increases:

  • Twitter (7%)
  • blogging (8%)
  • Pinterest (15%)
  • YouTube (20%) 

A few findings worth highlighting, says the report:

  • LinkedIn continues to be the platform of choice among the Inc. 500 for the 2nd year in a row
  • Companies perceive Twitter as the platform having the greatest potential for sales growth
  • Monitoring a companies’ brands, products or name for the 2013 Inc. 500 companies, appears to be losing traction
  • Approximately two thirds of the 2013 Inc. 500 have made accommodations for mobile customers including providing downloadable apps or optimizing web for mobile

In 2007, the Center’s first study of this group and their use of social media was released and revealed that the Inc. 500 was outpacing the revenue based Fortune 500 in their use of social media.  At that time, research showed that 8% of the Fortune 500 companies were blogging compared to 19% of the Inc. 500.  This trend has held steady for the past 7 years, and the pattern holds with 52% of the Inc. 500 blogging versus 34% of the Fortune 500.  Both groups continue to increase their use of this mature but valuable tool, notes the report.

When executives were asked which social media platforms they felt has the most potential for sales growth for their business, 61% feel Twitter holds the most potential. 55% see Facebook as the platform for growth and 31% believe Pinterest will benefit them. Those listing other options cited LinkedIn and YouTube as platforms that hold potential for sales growth. 

45% indicated they are tracking sales that come through their social media platforms. When asked to estimate the percent of total annual sales coming through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. 50% of the executives believe sales from social commerce are limited to less than 1%.  2% estimate that more than 10% of their annual sales come from Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.  Of those not currently tracking sales, 29% said they plan to within the next 12 months.

Selecting an online promotional strategy they feel could help increase sales, online advertising (such as banners or sponsored ads) was the most often selected option  by the respondents, with 43% believing it would benefit their company.  Approximately 20% chose listing the company in online business directories or through social media platforms, while17% feel neither of these online promotional strategies would help increase sales.  They feel the more traditional method of personal selling (one to one sales, direct contact with clients, relationship marketing and networking) is the most beneficial to increasing sales.  The least attractive choice is daily deal sites (2%).  

Two-thirds of the companies said they have added mobile features to connect with their customers.  Of those, 92% indicated that their corporate website had been optimized for mobile, 25% have downloadable app’s and 19% are using text message marketing.  

75% of executives said they used exclusively original or reposted content on their social media outlets.  The remainder used a combination of original or reposted and purchased content.  When asked what the goal was of the content they posted, those blogging sought to be thought leaders in their industry, while hose using Facebook and Twitter were focused on engagement and interaction.

According to the report, 59% of companies monitor its brands, products or company name in the social media space, down from 70% in 2010.  A lack of monitoring, suggests the report, could have consequences for companies given the potential for viral communications social media presents.

The responding executives represent a diverse group of 21 of the 22 industries on the 2013 Inc. 500 list.  Twenty-two percent of the companies surveyed made the top 100 on the 2013 Inc. 500 list (7 are ranked in the top 25). Respondents reported annual company revenues of under $3M to over $200M with 42% of them falling between $3m-$10m. Approximately two-thirds of the sample has 1-50 employees and 54% were founded between the years 2008-2011.

For additional information, please visit UmassDartmouth here.



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