The Inc. 500 and Social Media: Setting the Pace for US Businesses


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Presented at DocTrain East 2007 Conference by Nora Barnes & Eric Mattson -- Social media has arrived in the Inc. 500. They’ve invested the time to learn about it and are using it in far larger numbers than one might expect from previous studies. Why? They’re using it because they consider it important to their business and marketing strategy. And, even if they have yet to participate, the companies are starting to monitor it.

In this study, 56% of the Inc. 500 companies report using at least one of the following forms of social media: Blogging, message/bulletin boards, online video, social networking, podcasting and wikis. Of those, the older technologies enjoyed the widest adoption with one-third of the respondents using message boards and 27% using social networking.

Blogging is the social media channel most widely studied by researchers or examined through collaborative wiki efforts. It has been reported that use of blogging among the Fortune 500 companies is 8-9%. In this study, which examined the Inc. 500, a list based on growth rate rather than revenue, it was discovered that 19% of the companies are blogging. Podcasting, one of the newest forms of social media, enjoys 11% adoption among this group. Clearly, the Inc. 500 is moving quickly into these new channels of communication.

The research also revealed that familiarity, the value placed on social media and the use of different forms of social media are all related. These companies know that engaging social media requires education and a change management effort. They are using social media to extend their brands to the most loyal, engaged and influential consumers in the marketplace, as noted in the recent comScore research. Beyond that, they are gathering critical strategic information by listening to what is being said about themselves and their competitors in the social media world.

Fifty-one percent of the Inc. 500 participants reported monitoring social media. These companies were widely distributed in their rank on the Inc. 500 list, with various revenues, number of employees and locations. In the final analysis, those monitoring social media are those who know and use it. They are often companies where the responsibility for social media resides with marketing. And they are companies that are transparent enough to publicly reveal their names and share their thoughts with those exploring this new way of doing business.

Social media has arrived in the Inc. 500. They recognize that the marketplace is moving their conversations online and the business world needs to join in. These fast-growing, innovative companies offer us a glimpse of the business future because where they lead certainly others will follow.

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  • NORA Welcome/thank audience Introduce ourselves
  • The Inc. 500 and Social Media: Setting the Pace for US Businesses

    1. The and Social Media a Setting the Pace for US Businesses Research Partners Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes Director, Center for Marketing Research Chancellor Professor of Marketing UMass Dartmouth [email_address] Eric Mattson Marketing & Social Media Consultant Blog: Podcast: [email_address]
    2. What’s your SMQ? <ul><li>Read blogs? Have blogs? </li></ul><ul><li>Listen to podcasts? Have a podcast? </li></ul><ul><li>Have social networking profile? </li></ul><ul><li>Watch online video? Share videos online? </li></ul><ul><li>Read wikis? Contribute to wikis? </li></ul>
    3. Why study corporate social media? <ul><li>-- 94 million blogs indexed </li></ul><ul><li>-- 100 million videos viewed daily, 65,000 </li></ul><ul><li>new videos uploaded daily </li></ul><ul><li>-- 200 million accounts </li></ul><ul><li>-- 8.29 million articles in 253 languages </li></ul>In a 30-second spot world, social media has ENORMOUS market power and potential.
    4. The Big Question <ul><li>Are businesses actually using social media? </li></ul><ul><li>Or is it all hype? </li></ul>
    5. Previous Research <ul><li>2005 Cass/BackBone Media surveyed 75 corporate bloggers </li></ul><ul><li>2006 SocialText and Blog Business Summit hosted wikis to track Fortune 500 blog usage </li></ul><ul><li>2006 Makovsky/Harris Interactive found that of the Fortune 1000, 15% have someone writing a blog </li></ul><ul><li>2006 Jupiter Research reported 35% of large co.’s planned to have corporate blog by end of the year </li></ul>
    6. Research Methodology <ul><li>Started with a respected list: </li></ul><ul><li>Developed a survey focused on 4 questions: </li></ul><ul><li>Is the Inc. 500 familiar with social media? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the Inc. 500 using social media? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the Inc. 500 consider social media important? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the Inc. 500 monitor social media? </li></ul><ul><li>All calls made at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research. </li></ul>
    7. <ul><li>121 of the 2006 companies responded. </li></ul><ul><li>Diverse in industry, size and location. </li></ul><ul><li>Included 4 of the top 10, 7 of the top 25, and 22 of the top 100 companies from the list. </li></ul><ul><li>Results are statistically valid </li></ul>The Response
    8. Familiarity
    9. Usage
    10. Usage 56% The Bottom Line: Over half of Inc. 500 companies are using at least one form of social media.
    11. Importance
    12. Monitoring 51% Methods: Reading RSS feeds, monitoring web statistics, tracking video downloads, surfing the web and watching online competitive activity
    13. Responsible Party
    14. The Conclusion <ul><li>Social media has arrived in business The hype is </li></ul><ul><li>real. </li></ul><ul><li>56% of the Inc. 500 are using at least one form of social media. </li></ul><ul><li>66% consider social media “very important” or “somewhat important” to their strategy </li></ul><ul><li>51% of companies are monitoring social media </li></ul>
    15. Actionable Advice <ul><li>These technologies are still young. There are no few right answers. Explore. Play. Participate. </li></ul><ul><li>Start with education. Familiarity drives usage. </li></ul><ul><li>Be patient. Invest appropriately. Social media is not an overnight “silver bullet” for success. </li></ul>
    16. Q&A Want our slides? Have more questions? Want to join our email list? Email us: [email_address] [email_address]
    17. Social Media and College Admissions Overview <ul><li>We surveyed (via phone) the admissions departments at the 2,000 4-year accredited universities in the US. </li></ul><ul><li>453 responded including top schools like Duke, Vassar, and Carnegie Mellon. </li></ul><ul><li>Statistically valid results </li></ul>
    18. Social Media and College Admissions Questions <ul><li>Focused on 4 main questions: </li></ul><ul><li>Are colleges and universities familiar with social media? </li></ul><ul><li>Are colleges and universities using social media? </li></ul><ul><li>Do colleges and universities consider social media important? </li></ul><ul><li>Do colleges and universities use search engines and/or social networking to recruit and research perspective students? </li></ul>
    19. Social Media and College Admissions Results <ul><li>61% of accredited 4 year colleges use at least one form of social media. </li></ul><ul><li>Blogging is the most common media with 33% of admissions departments using it. </li></ul><ul><li>51% of admissions depts. feel that social media is “very important” to their recruiting strategy. </li></ul><ul><li>Colleges are using search engines (26%) and social networks (21%) to research potential students. </li></ul>