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November 2nd, 2011

Have We Hit the Corporate Social Publishing Ceiling?

There are all sorts of great statistics in this study from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth about the usage of social publishing (I’m steadfastly avoiding using the term “social media”) platforms by Fortune 500 companies. Among those statistics:

  • Only 23 percent of those companies – that translates to 114 – have public facing blogs that have been updated in the last 12 months. But that last qualifier doesn’t discount very many, though, since it’s noted that just about everyone is regular in their writing, showing that once they’ve made the decision to publish a blog they stick with it.
  • 91 percent of those blogs accept comments or have RSS or email subscription options. All that is generally lumped under the heading of “Interactivity” though on-domain comments are significantly different than just allowing options for people to receive the latest published material.
  • 308 companies – 62 percent – have corporate Twitter accounts and 289 – 58 percent – have an official Facebook presence, both shockingly low numbers. It’s not broken down, though, whether those companies interact on those status networks in lieu of allowing on-domain comments.

The study finishes up by reiterating that the 23 percent of companies with public blogs is not a significant change from 2010 and even the rise in Twitter and Facebook adoption is relatively small.

But wait – Wasn’t social publishing supposed to be engrained in the DNA of every company by now? That’s what we heard back in 2005 (and continue to hear the echoes of today), that if a company wasn’t fully committed to being social then it would surely whither and die.

The reality has always been less rose-colored than those sort of statements have ever let on. While yes, there’s a lot to be said for being as social possible it only makes sense if doing so aligns with the goals of each individual business. That’s why, as the study points out, the percentage of companies with blogs and other outlets differs when broken down by industry. Those sectors that are more “fun” when looked at from a consumer perspective have more blogs than those that are less sexy. That only makes sense. And even more than that there may be no good reason for a company to launch a blog or have another public-facing social publishing presence.

While it might be tempting for some people to wag their fingers at the fact that 77 percent of companies in the Fortune 500 have not embraced social publishing i choose to focus on something more positive: That the 23 percent that are doing so have been consistent in their publishing. That shows that (like many of the clients we work with here) they’ve seen positive results from those efforts and have built sustainable programs to support them. And that’s far better to see than a collection of dead or dying sites that lacked such solid programs but were started because it was trendy to do so.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Blogging, Social Networks

Add Your Comment1 Response to “Have We Hit the Corporate Social Publishing Ceiling?”

Jen Zingsheim on November 3rd, 2011 at 10:50 am

I’d encourage people to look at the Fortune 500 list before wagging their fingers. I know I’m an outlier in social circles for having this opinion, but I only think it’s worthwhile to participate in these channels if there’s a need and it’s logical. For example, I had to look up the following companies to even see what they do: Fluor (#124), AES (#150), Eaton (#178), etc. Some I’ve heard of but don’t see them as having the need for a Twitter account: TRW Automotive Holdings (#171), Parker Hannifin (#248). And some, like Halliburton, would spend more time fending off nasty comments than engaging. It would, in my opinion, be a waste of time for them to try and stay on top of what they’d receive.

I think we, as the general public, focus more on the obvious ones we hear about in our day to day lives. Many of those are consumer facing and probably are the ones with accounts.

Also, I haven’t taken a look at the study–how do they treat companies like Procter & Gamble? I’m sure many of the P&G brands such as Tide have Twitter accounts, but perhaps not the company itself (actually that was probably a bad example, they probably do–but, I think you probably get what I’m trying to suss out here…)

Interesting post, it will be interesting to see where it all leads.