The University of Massachusetts Darthmouth is out with its latest study on social media usage by companies in the Fortune 500. I’ve discussed previous UMD studies on this topic here and here in the past year or so.
This study, as in the past, focuses on public-facing blogs at the corporate level, acknowledging that blogs may exist at the divisional level or be only for internal consumption that won’t, then, be included in these numbers.
The study found that the number of companies with public-facing blogs grew from 23% in 2011 to 28% in 2012. Compare that with the most recent study of blog adoption by the Inc. 500, which found that blog use was actually dropping and you can safely conclude bigger, more mature companies are opting for bigger, more mature tools while smaller, growing companies are instead choosing smaller, growing tools.
Unsurprisingly, the percentage of companies with official, corporate-based Twitter and Facebook profiles is much higher, 73% and 66% respectively. This is indicative of how these profiles are more agile, allow for smaller content (and therefore are less time/resource-intensive to source content for) and are focused on interaction with customers, though obviously not everyone takes advantage of that to the same level.
For the first time this study looked at specialty platforms, meaning blogs, Twitter accounts or Facebook pages devoted to a singular purpose such as recruitment, CSR or other topics that still were being managed at the corporate level.
It also found that 2% of the Fortune 500 companies are participating on Pinterest. Unsurprisingly, especially if you’ve been paying attention to the handful of case studies that have eschewed over-enthusiastic hype, most of those are companies with not only strong visual components but also strong ties between those visuals and a retail experience.
So what does this all mean? The increasing number of companies who are using tools of any size or weight – blogs at the bigger, heavier end and nearly pure curation sites like Pinterest on the other – shows that more companies realize there’s a story to tell. It might not be a big story but it’s a story and anyone who ever said there was a one-size fits all method to brand publishing was likely trying to sell you something.
Along with that there are, presumably, structural changes that have happened within those companies to accommodate the publishing program, whatever level it exists at. Material needs to be sourced, vetted, written (or created in some manner), approved and published. When you think about the fact that this isn’t just a “Oh hey, let’s start a Facebook page) decision that was made (or if it was it hopefully wasn’t long before someone came along with a reality check) but one that required substantive changes to be made to the organization. That’s a deeper story that lies under these numbers.