Twitter leads Fortune 500 social media surge

fortune 500 2013

After several years bumbling around on social media, Fortune 500 companies are seemingly climbing aboard and approaching the usage levels of their more nimble INC 500 brethren.

That is one of the conclusions of a new report out of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research. The center has been conducting this type of research since 2008. A few of the report highlights:

Twitter on the rise

77% of the Fortune 500 companies have an active Twitter account, leading all other social media platforms. This is an increase over 70% in 2012.

The Wall of Shame: Five of the 2013 F500 companies had Twitter accounts with no activity on them: CF Industry Holdings, Joy Global, Laboratory Corp. of America, O’Reilly Automotive and Omnicare.

Corporate Blogs surging

In 2013, 171 companies (34%) had corporate blogs, showing the largest increase in use of this platform since the study began in 2008.

The F500 is still far behind INC 500 companies (44% have blogs), non-profits (63% have blogs) and universities at 66%.

Facebook up 4%

348 companies (70%) are now on Facebook. This represents a 4% increase since last year. Nine of the top 10 companies (WalMart, Chevron, Phillips 66, Berkshire Hathaway, Apple, General Motors, General Electric, Valero Energy and Ford Motors) have Facebook pages.  Exxon does not.

The percent of corporations with Facebook pages varies by industry with Retail (96%), and Telecomm (88%) leading the way. Utilities (44%) and Automotive (40%) are laggards.

Google+ and others

Pinterest has grown in membership since its public debut in 2010 and is showing up in the F500. In 2012, 11 (2%) F500 companies had Pinterest accounts. This year that number has grown to 45 companies or 9%.  Half of the top 10 ranked companies have Pinterest boards.

69% of the F500 have YouTube accounts, a 7% increase from last year. YouTube is as popular with the F500 as Facebook. Berkshire Hathaway is the only company ranked in the top 10 without its own YouTube channel.

Google+ was included in the study for the first time. Although 35% of the F500 have accounts, more than half of them are inactive. The university noted that this is the only platform where companies generally have accounts but no activity.

Any comments or surprises on this data?

All posts

  • These all look as expected don’t they? Especially the Google+ stats, too many companies just ‘ticking that social media box’………..

    Nice set of stats, thanks 🙂

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  • We keep hearing about Google+ being nothing more than a placeholder for many companies at this point. Even though I know that is probably true, it was frankly still surprising to see that show up so apparently in this data. The G+ strategy seems to be, “let’s be there just in case.”

  • Indeed, it will be the one’s that were there early and grew their following and engagement that will benefit the most though (at least in the short term).

  • The real question for me, as a consumer, is: is there anyone on the other side of the account? Twice I’ve used Twitter to solve a customer service issue. Won’t name names, but one was there, responded, resolved issue. It was pretty cool, because honestly, I just went to Twitter to whine about it. (grin) Other was totally MIA. And I’d gone to Twitter with it because I couldn’t get a response from any other CS source. Seriously. Nothing anywhere. So if they don’t use it for “good” I’m not impressed. LOL

  • Sends a message either way, doesn’t it?

  • Oh yeah. No surprise I’ve not shopped at the second one since. Years ago, before social media, I had a problem with Sears. I got so fed up, I told them that every time I saw their commercial on TV I called someone and told them not to shop there. LOL In all fairness, they resolved my issue after that. But it took me years to do more than walk through. Can you imagine the havoc I could have caused now? LOL Companies really need to walk their SM back sides these days. (grin)

    Even as small beans as I am, I try to be careful. Some time ago I read about “the peculiar fascination of watching authors melt down in public” and decided not to be one of them if I could ever help it. O.O

    It is incredibly easy to step into something though. Some days all you have to do is be a) breathing and b) connected to SM. LOL

  • Barry Wallace

    I haven’t seen a Social Media platform play such a polarizing role as Google+. It has its dedicated supporters, most whom seem to believe fervently in its strength, versatility and reach. And I would imagine those supporters are the ones advising the companies to create sites – it seems few would create them on their own. What Google+ seems to lack is rank and file consumer users – it has vocal tech- and marketing-oriented champions and their corporate advisees, but little market penetration to the extent that Facebook and Twitter had early on.

  • I like Google+ but it doesn;t solve a unique problem. Teens look at it and go “meh.” This does not mean it is a failure. It is not a broadly used social network, but it is still successful for Google.

  • Robert Beagan

    I’ve recently introduced G+ to a team of 22 sales reps and we are seeing an increase in communication and engagement within our organization. The ability to privately communicate within individual circles turns G+ into a lite intranet which I find incredibly attractive. Plus it’s free. Speaking of free, Hangouts has revolutionized our sales meetings. We are able to keep our team on the road, cut down on travel and expenses and avoid NYC traffic. To go even further we also record the meeting, create a private youtube video (which requires a gmail acct to view mind you) and post the video within our company circle. All for free. It was easy to introduce and get the support of executive management. G+ maybe be a ghost town amongst the masses, but you find niche communities that are highly connected and deeply engaged.

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  • Great case study Robert. Interesting thing is, The U Mass methodology would not have picked up on this usage. Much appreciated.

  • LoriGama1

    It’s very interesting to see such a huge increase of the Fortune 500 Companies who have an active Twitter account this year versus last year (an increase of 70%!) and comparing that to the tiny increase of only 4% who have active Facebook communities. I think it means that the Fortune 500 Companies believe that Twitter is much more effective for them in several ways – most likely it’s easier for them to provide customer support and perhaps, more controllable, too, because of the limited 140-character versus Facebook’s posts which allow users to be quite verbose. Also, Facebook’s learning curve is higher/lengthier and it takes a lot more time and effort to grow a community there versus Twitter, in my opinion. I’m just guessing on all of this, of course. It would be interesting to find out the actual reasons why 70% more Fortune 500 Companies have active Twitter accounts in 2013 versus 2012. What do YOU think the reasons could be, Mark?

  • LoriGama1

    Very interesting, Robert! I had not thought of Google+ as an ideal platform to form an intranet but it makes total sense. You’re so right: it is ideal for niche communities. Hope your company gives you a healthy raise for introducing that idea. Thanks for sharing!

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  • Jeff Pundyk

    where does Linked In fall in all of this?


    It is interesting to compare the conclusions revealed in this
    study to eMarketer’s findings, which were released in the first quarter of this
    year. While the University of Massachusetts’ study commented on the social media marketing activity among Fortune 500 companies, eMarketer focused its research on overall global usage. To that end, eMarketer claimed
    that Google+ was the second most widely used social media site. Taking this into consideration, would you say that the companies studied by the University of Massachusetts would do well to develop an active presence on Google+, not only because of its apparent popularity, but also because it is theorized that doing so can do a lot towards building SERP authority? Has anyone seen an update to eMarketer’s Q1 GlobalWebIndex?

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  • Probably the reasons you stated here, plus the fact that Twitter likely presents less risk for controversy. I was a little surprised that Twitter has climbed so high.

  • For some reason they do not include LinkedIn in the study.

  • There could be many explanations for the differences, including the definition of “presence” on G+ and how the question was posed. UMass simply looked for presence of accounts, not if individuals were using them. I would say anecdotally based on the cross-section of companies I work with, there is no real activity on G+. Not even on the radar screen so intuitively, the UMass data makes sense.

  • Didn’t know twitter was growing like that. Does seem they’ve polished the mobile UI, and added a lot of good new stuff. I personally am starting to see growth in traffic from twitter. It’s encouraging that I’m getting more than a 60+ Klout score. 🙂

  • LoriGama1

    I was surprised, too, Mark. Thanks for your reply.

  • ralf vonsosen

    Interesting data. Where does LinkedIn fit in?

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  • thanks for sharing all this, Mark. interestingly enough, we’re in the process of compiling a study at on fortune 500 usage of twitter. sounds like we should reference this study as a building block.

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  • Christine Webber

    Very useful info thanks Mark.

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