UMass/Dartmouth have done a study every year since 2008 of Fortune 500 companies and how they’re approaching social media. In 2008, 16% of Fortune 500 companies had a corporate blog for consumers to read. Now, that percentage has doubled.
34% is still just over a third of the companies. But there’s something special about those companies — now and in 2008. The companies in the top 200 are much more likely to blog than those in the 300-500 slots.
As is the case with small businesses that don’t have a website (nearly half), the companies that take advantage of online marketing outperform those who do not. The larger a small business is, the more likely they are to have a website. The closer to the top of the Fortune 500 list a company is, the more likely they are to have a blog.
Those companies that have a blog, among the Fortune 500, blog well. Their blogs are frequently updated. They take comments. They allow subscriptions and social sharing. It’s clear: wealthy companies don’t bother to start a blog if they’re not going to keep it up.
Fewer than 10% of the Fortune 500 companies have Pinterest, Instagram, or Foursquare accounts, though 35% have Google+. When it comes to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, though, the pattern is the same as for blogging: the higher the company is ranked, the more likely they are to be active.
Correlation does not equal causation.
When we look at businesses and see that the smallest of small businesses have no website, we cannot be sure that they are small because they have no website. It could equally be that these very small businesses cannot afford a website. It could be a vicious circle: their lack of resources means they can’t build the website that would allow them to grow to the point where they could afford a website.
But with Fortune 500 companies, we can assume that they have the resources at their disposal to use social media if they cared to. SproutSocial had some interesting suggestions regarding the relatively low level of social media involvement among the largest companies. They referenced an infographic that pointed out that marketers surveyed gauged the success of their social media first by Likes and followers… last by sales.
As long as social media marketing focuses on vanity metrics, there will be holdouts. Perhaps it is not surprising that the holdouts will often be among those companies that have plenty of resources. They can do full-page magazine spreads and Super Bowl ads if they feel like it, so why should they waste their time trying to be the Prom Queen?
How about because the big companies that divert some of their marketing budget toward social media tend to be bigger than those that don’t?
I’d like to know whether the marketers for the Fortune 500 companies also tried to show their success by the number of Likes they have. I’m guessing they didn’t.
You may not aspire to the Fortune 500. Maybe you do. Either way, you can learn from them. You should have a company blog. You should post regularly and invite engagement. You should integrate social media. You should contact us if that’s not the best use of your time, or if you’ve tried before and been unhappy with your results.
Online marketing is a much more level playing field than traditional advertising is. Don’t miss out.