Here is another very useful report from Nora Ganim Barnes and Ava M. Lescault of The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. I have written about Nora’s studies on many occasions (see for example this report on Social Media and Fortune 500). The longitudinal aspect of them makes them very useful. This new study revisits the Center’s work on the Inc. 500 social media usage for the seventh consecutive year, making it a valuable and rare longitudinal study of corporate use of new communication tools.
This research presented here was conducted using two approaches. First, every company named to the 2013 Inc. 500 list was examined in order to determine which social media tools they were using. Each homepage was reviewed in addition to the entire site (since some did not link to their accounts from the homepage). Search engines were also utilized to find an online presence if none was obvious after reviewing the website.
Their second level of research involved interviewing a random sample of executives from the Inc. 500 list to ask questions with a specific focus on issues like social commerce, mobile, online crisis management and social media policies. One hundred and eighteen interviews were conducted (24% of the Inc. 500). While some issues are new to the 2013 study, several were researched in 2012 as well, in order to provide trend data.
The use of LinkedIn by Inc. 500 companies grew to 88% this year, maintaining the number one spot. Facebook saw a resurgence to 84% after dropping 7% in 2012. The following also saw increases: Twitter (7%), blogging (8%), Pinterest (15%) and YouTube (20%). 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.
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. For example, 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 with the Inc. 500 continuously out blogging the Fortune 500. The most recent data collected on both groups suggests that the pattern holds with 52% of the Inc. 500 blogging and 34% of the Fortune 500. Both groups however, continue to increase their use of this mature but valuable tool.
They are now seeing the incorporation of new platforms and tools as well as an increased use of others. The only tool with a decrease in usage is FourSquare. Ninety-five percent of the Inc. 500 are using at least one of the tools studied (a 3% increase since 2012).
One of the new issues they examined this year in their interviews was the company’s involvement in social commerce. Executives were asked which social media platforms they felt has the most potential for sales growth for their business. Sixty-one percent feel Twitter holds the most potential for sales growth. Fifty-five percent see Facebook as the platform for growth and 31% believe Pinterest will benefit them.
There is much more in the report and I encourage you to check it out. I really appreciate their continued efforts.