University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research is out with its latest update on social media usage by Fortune 500 companies in 2015 and there are some big surprises here.

umass fortune 500 2015

First, far fewer companies maintained active blogs last year, just 21% , or a little over 100 companies. That makes two years in a row that usage declined, with this tactic peaking at 34% in 2013 and beginning a decline in 2014. That means fewer companies see the value in long-form content, though the study doesn’t make it clear whether it’s counting blogs that may be hosted on Tumblr or Medium. Many brands have migrated their content publishing to those platforms in the last couple years and it would be interesting to know if those are included in these stats.

Our position has always been that an owned, on-domain blog is always a good idea. Going all-in on other networks, whether it’s Instagram or Medium or anything else, means you are subject to terms of service and a user experience that can change at any moment. As we’ve seen in recent months as Facebook continues to kink the hose of organic reach and Twitter and Instagram adopt algorithmic feeds, the only way to manage the experience is to own it. While distribution on other platforms can benefit a program, on-domain publishing brings long-term value in that it’s not subject to content decay, allows for better search rankings and more.

Moving on, there was a 5% drop in the number of Fortune 500 companies actively publishing on Twitter, down to 78%. The number of companies with an active Facebook page also dropped, dipping 6% to 74%. YouTube usage is also dropping, down to 64% in 2015, as is Pinterest, which is only used by 23% of the companies on the list.

The one network that’s growing? Instagram. That shows companies are seeing more value in visual storytelling, but that conclusion is somewhat suspect by the decline on Pinterest. So if a platform that’s visual but has no click-through value is growing while a platform that’s visual and has a ton of click-through value is declining, where are the priorities of the companies using them? It will be interesting to see if the recent introduction of a filtered algorithmic feed on Instagram impacts that growth, which is in at least its second year.

So why is almost everything – even LinkedIn – dropping in usage? The study says that a good portion of the reason is that the companies that are new to the list aren’t using social networks at the same rate those being replaced were. So the question then becomes, why aren’t those new additions to the list using social networks?

The study doesn’t offer a reason but it’s easy to assume that in some manner or another the companies simply don’t see the value in maintaining them. Maybe the audience they’re trying to reach is no longer on those networks, maybe program goals are ones that won’t be achieved through content publishing.

Of note that this is at least the third year of Twitter being more popular among Fortune 500 companies than Facebook. And yet we can’t go a month without discussions of why Twitter is failing. But if so many companies are using it, what’s behind that perception? The company still struggles with adding and retaining active monthly users, which means that it’s not selling the value of connecting with these companies – or watching as Neil DeGrasse Tyson debates random rappers about science or Robert Downey Jr engage in a little smack talk with Ryan Reynolds and Chris Evans – to those new and inactive users. That’s a real problem but it seems like one that can be solved.

Have questions about how Voce can help you figure out how to use a blog or other social network? Drop us a line.