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UMass Study Demonstrates Growing Importance of Social Media with Fortune 500s

The Fortune 500 and Social Media: A Longitudinal Study of Blogging and Twitter Usage by America’s Largest Companies
Conducted By: Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., Eric Mattson CEO, Financial Insite


Due to the hugely influential role of Fortune Magazine’s list of America’s largest corporations (“Fortune 500”) play in the business world, studying their usage of new technological tools like social media offers important insights into the future of commerce.

In 2009, the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth released one of the first studies of the Fortune 500’s adoption of one of the best-known forms of social media – blogging.

This new study revisits and refreshes that prior in-depth study and expands to look at the Fortune 500’s usage of the most dramatically growing new social media site – the microblogging service Twitter.

Methodology

For purposes of this research, the following definition was used to locate 2009 Fortune 500 companies with blogs. A company was counted as having a blog if they had a public facing corporate blog from the primary corporation with posts in the past 12 months. This is the same definition used in the 2008 study.

Summary

  1. Blogs in the 2009 Fortune 500 – One hundred-eight (22%) of the primary corporations listed on the 2009 Fortune 500 have a public-facing corporate blog with a post in the past 12 months versus 16% in 2008.
  2. Blogs by Industry – As might be expected, companies in the industry of computer software, peripherals and office equipment have the most blogs while specialty retail saw a significant increase in blog usage.
  3. Blogs by Rank – Numbers show that rank continues to influence the adoption of blogging by the Fortune 500.
  4. Level of Interaction – All the corporations make good use of blogging through frequent posting, on-going discussion and the ability to follow the conversation easily through RSS or subscriptions.
  5. Comparison with the Inc. 500 – Although blogging increased by 6% from 2008 for both Inc. 500 and Fortune 500 the later is still blogging at a much lower rate.
  6. Corporate Twitter Accounts – One hundred and seventy-three (35%) of the primary corporations listed on the 2009
    Fortune 500 has a Twitter account with a post within the past thirty days. Of these companies, four of the top five corporations consistently post on their Twitter accounts.
  7. Use of Podcasting and Video – Nineteen percent of the 2009 Fortune 500 is podcasting and 31% are using video on their blog sites.
Of the 108 blogs located, 93 (86%) are linked directly to a corporate Twitter account, that’s more than three times as many as members of the 2008 list.

Conclusion

The continued steady adoption of blogs and the explosive growth of Twitter among Fortune 500 companies demonstrate the growing importance of social media in the business world. These large and leading companies drive the American economy and to a large extent the world economy. Surely a willingness to interact more transparently via these new technologies with their stakeholders is a good thing. Where it leads will be fascinating to watch!

Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a strategic communications leader with nearly 20 years experience in both internal and external communications. She is a passionate advocate for developing communications that foster a stronger relationship between the organization and its employees. She is a global keynote speaker on employee engagement and HR communications. Elizabeth is a certified professional in Employer Brand through Universum Global's Employer Branding Academy.