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.