A new study of the world’s 500 largest public corporations by the University of Massachusetts Center for Marketing Research indicates that the level of corporate blogging may have flat-lined while the adoption of of other social media platforms, especially Twitter, continues to escalate rapidly.

Corporate blogging

Of the Fortune 500 companies, 22%, have a public-facing blog with a post in the past 12 months, including three of the top five companies (Wal-Mart, Chevron and General Electric).  That’s up just 6% from a 2008 study.

Rank on the Fortune 500 list seemed to influence the adoption of blogging by the F500. The top 100 companies (or to 20%) on the list represent 39% of the 108 blogs.

All 108 blogs were examined to determine the level of interactivity the blog allowed — 90% percent of the Fortune 500 blogs take comments, have RSS feeds and take subscriptions.

Twitter

Of the 108 blogs located, 93 (86%) are linked directly to a corporate Twitter account, a more than 300% increase over the 2008 study.

173 (35%) of the primary corporations listed on the 2009 Fortune 500 have a Twitter account with a post within the past 30 days. Of these companies, four of the top five corporations (Wal-Mart, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and General Electric) consistently post on their Twitter accounts. For more on GE’s social media efforts: click here.

Podcasting and video

The 2009 Fortune 500 were also examined to determine usage of additional social media tools. 19% of the 2009 Fortune 500 use podcasting (up from 16%) and 31% are using video on their blog sites (up from 21%).

Implications

While blogging has more or less flat-lined for the mega-companies, a recent article I posted on the fast-growing Inc. 500 corporations showed a much higher rate of adoption. In fact, nearly half of the Inc. 500 had corporate blogs compared to 22% for the Fortune 500.  What could this mean? I guess you would expect smaller companies to be fleeter in adopting new ideas, but blogging isn’t that new.  Besides, the incredible adoption of Twitter demonstrates that the Fortune 500′s do have at least some understanding of the social web.

I have experienced first-hand how difficult it is to manage a meaningful blog in a public company straddled with so many laws and regulations. It’s hard to be responsive and authentic when you have to get everything reviewed by the legal department.  I’m guessing that many companies are experiencing the same angst –   What is the role of a blog in the corporate communications structure?  What are the benefits versus the cost of approvals and the time needed from executives to sponsor the work?  And just how many blogs does the world need any way?  Does the heightened use of video and podcasting indicate companies are turning to new means of expression?

What do you think?  Has corporate blogging reached its saturation point?

{grow} community alert: Jon Buscall has written a wonderful companion piece that actually answers the questions I pose here!

Many thanks to Nora Barnes and Eric Mattson for their detailed and important research.

Illustration: Web Tycoon
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