The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth conducted a study on social media by Nora Barnes and Eric Mattson on the usage of social media in fast-growing corporations. All interviews took place in October and November of 2009. The 2009 study looks again at the Inc. Magazine 500 social media usage for the third consecutive year, allowing for a longitudinal study of corporate use of social media.
In 2007, the study found that the Inc. 500 was outpacing the more traditional and larger Fortune 500 companies in their use of social media. For example, with blogs, the 2007 some research showed that 8% of the Fortune 500 companies were blogging compared to 19% of the Inc. 500. This difference continued in 2008 with 16% of the Fortune 500 blogging vs. 39% of the Inc. 500. And it appears the Inc. 500’s lead in blogging will continue in 2009 with the Inc. 500 now blogging at a rate of 45%.
This research shows that social media continues to penetrate parts of the business world at a fast rate. In all three studies, questions looked at with six prominent social media (blogging, podcasting, online video, social networking, message boards and wikis). In 2009, several new tools were added including Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and MySpace.
Social networking continues to be the most familiar social media tool to the Inc. 500 with 75% of respondents in 2009 claiming to be “very familiar with it” (compared to 57% in 2008). Twitter’s has captured “share of mind” in the first year of being studied with sixty-two percent of executives reported being familiar with it.
Looking across the three years, social networking and blogging have have continued to grow in adoption, the use of message boards, online video, wikis and podcasting has leveled off or declined. The addition of Twitter (considered by respondents to be both a microblogging site and a social networking site) in the latest study shows that 52% of the Inc. 500 companies are already using this tool for their business.
Forty-three percent of the 2009 Inc. 500 reported social media was “very important” to their business/marketing strategy and 91% of the Inc. 500 is using at least one social media tool in 2009 (up from 77% in 2008). In addition, as they ramp up their usage, the Inc. 500 companies are also seeking to protect themselves legally, with 36% having implemented a formal policy concerning blogging by their employees.
This is consistent with other studies I have seen in the past two years. It is nice to see the continued increase in social media use by business. It also makes sense.