Fortune 500’s Social Media Use Continues to Expand

August 25, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Social Media | Top Brands

UMassDartmouth-Fortune500-Social-Use-2012-2014-Aug2014Social media use is almost ubiquitous among the Fortune 500 and newer platforms are seeing fast-rising adoption rates, according to the latest study from the Center of Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. LinkedIn, measured for the first time this year, is easily the most-used platform, by 97% of the Fortune 500, while Twitter continues to outrank Facebook, although by a slimmer margin this year.

According to the study, 83% of the Fortune 500 has a corporate Twitter account – up from 77% last year and 73% the year before – with these 413 corporations spanning each of the 72 industries represented. Interestingly, while Twitter adoption is slightly higher among the top 200 than bottom 200 corporations on the list, only 7 of the top 10 companies have a corporate account.

Facebook – which happens to have the most Twitter followers of the Fortune 500 – registered a considerable uptick in adoption this year. Used by 70% of the Fortune 500 last year, its adoption rate increased by 10% points to rival Twitter. Not only does Facebook have the most Twitter followers of the Fortune 500 companies, but it (not surprisingly) also boasts by far the most Facebook fans. Coca-Cola, the corporation with the second-largest Facebook fan base, is consistently on the list of top brand movers on Facebook.

While the top 3 platforms enjoy high rates of adoption, Google-owned properties don’t appear to be gaining quite the same appeal. This year, two-thirds of the Fortune 500 have a corporate YouTube account, down a couple of percentage points from 69% last year. And Google+ adoption doesn’t seem to be moving quickly, only increasing 3% points year-over-year to 38%.

In fact, newer platforms are growing so quickly in use that they’re either threatening to surpass – or have already exceeded – Google+ adoption. For example, the study this year finds that 51% of the Fortune 500 are using Foursquare, a huge increase from just 9% last year. Moreover, Pinterest adoption has quadrupled year-over-year to 36%, while Instagram use has more than doubled to 20%.

Against that backdrop, it appears that the use of public-facing blogs is falling out of favor, despite data suggesting that almost half of Americans read their favorite brands’ blogs. This year, 31% of the Fortune 500 have an active public-facing corporate blog, down from 34% last year. As with Twitter use, blogging appears to be more heavily adopted by the top 200 than the bottom 200 corporations.

Data concerning the Inc. 500’s use of social media can be found here.

About the Data: The study describes its methodology as follows:

“The following definition was 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.

Due to the complexity of corporate legal structures in this group and no clear methodology on how subsidiaries have been located or analyzed by others, the research presented here continues to focus on the primary/listed corporation. While we acknowledge that mergers and acquisitions along with expansions have resulted in segments or subsidiaries with blogs, our focus has consistently been at the corporate level.

It is worth noting that there is evidence of usage of social media tools such as blogs inside these corporations. This research did not look at that subject, but instead focused on public-facing corporate blogs as a barometer of social media usage to engage the public.

All corporations were analyzed using multiple steps. First, working from the published 2014 F500 list, all corporate home pages were examined for links to, or mention of, corporate blogs. If none were found, a search on the company’s site was conducted using the key word “blog.” Any links resulting from that search were followed and evaluated using the established criteria.

If no blogs were located on the home page or through a site search, other search engines were used. Both Google and Technorati (a leading blog-focused search engine) were employed to check for corporate blogs using key words that included the primary/listed company name and the word “blog.” This proved to be an effective method since additional blogs were located. A search of other sites gathering information on the F500 was also reviewed for any mention of blogs in that group.

The same methodology was used to locate corporate Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. In each case the appropriate sites for each platform was utilized. As in last year’s study, the number of corporate YouTube and Pinterest accounts was studied. The same methodology was employed as described above for blogs, Twitter and Facebook, Google+, Foursquare and Instagram. LinkedIn was added for the first time this year and treated in the same way.”

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