In its 7th annual survey of the Fortune 500’s social media usage, UMass-Dartmouth found that newer tools like Instagram and Pinterest are exploding in use.
Companies are grabbing tools that are hot and popular. But do they have an actual social media strategy in place?
Evaluating the Tools
“You wonder if there is an actual understanding how these new tools can help them,” said Nora Ganim Barnes, Director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, in a phone conversation.
“Having a Facebook or Twitter account is as common as having a website. The high end, mature tools are starting to look alike,” she said. The Center added LinkedIn to its study for the first time this year, at my suggestion. LinkedIn dominates all tools at 97% adoption, even while the newer networks are getting all the attention.
In discussions with a number of these companies Dr. Barnes said she didn’t find a clear-cut social media strategy. “If you ask if they have a social media strategy, they reply that it’s part of their business and marketing strategy. But I’m not sure they know how to use these tools once they have them.”
She cited a conversation with a marketing executive at one of the major consumer products companies. Its Foursquare account gets a significant number of traffic and Likes but he claimed, “We don’t do much with it.”
Foursquare, Barnes said, is “becoming almost like a Yellow Pages or Yelp. You can find a location but also a list of their products and a link to the corporate website.”
Interestingly, while pundits have forecast a bleak future for Foursquare, the study disclosed that Foursquare enjoyed the largest increase in adoption (42%).
More than half the Fortune 500 have adopted the tool, including newcomers this year Starbucks, Best Buy, AT&T and CVS Caremark. The role of this tool may be morphing from simply a location-based app to a storefront for a company’s products.
As to Google+, 93 (19%) of the Fortune 500 have opened accounts that are inactive. This indicates, said the study, that corporations are still learning about Google+ or have not yet found the best use of this platform in their social media mix.
Surprisingly, the use of corporate blogs declined. In 2014, 157 companies (31%) had corporate blogs, showing a decrease of 3% in use of this tool in the past year.
Supporting Your Brand
Create a specific social media strategy for yourself and your company. Know what tools your target audience’s are using, Barnes said.
“Whether you’re an individual or a Fortune 500 company, you need to define who you are. The platforms you choose should define your brand. Everything you use should support your professional objective,” she said.
“Evaluate the usefulness of each tool. Where should I be? If your answer is that this takes more time than what I’m going to get from it, then don’t use that tool.”
- In 2014, 157 companies (31%) had corporate blogs showing a decrease of 3% in use of this tool in the past year.
- Companies blogging include two of the top five corporations (Wal-Mart Stores and Exxon Mobil), leaving the other three (Chevron, Apple and Berkshire Hathaway) without a public-facing blog.
- 413 companies (83%) of the Fortune 500 have corporate Twitter accounts with a tweet in the past thirty days. This represents a 6% increase since 2013.
- Facebook, in its second year on the Fortune 500 list, has the highest number of followers on Twitter, followed by Starbucks, Microsoft, Walt Disney Company, Whole Foods Market, Inc., Nike, Inc., and Intel Corporation. They also have the most Facebook fans along with Coca-Cola, The Walt Disney Company and Starbucks Corporation.
- 401 companies (80%) of the Fortune 500 are now on Facebook. This represents a 10% increase since 2013.
- In the past year, Foursquare enjoyed the largest increase in adoption (42%), while Pinterest use increased by 27% and Instagram by 12%.
What Tools Are You Using?
As a blogger, I was surprised and disappointed that blogs have declined in usage. Blogging is my principal tool. Barnes wondered whether LinkedIn’s new Pulse feature – essentially the ability to have your own blog within the most used social media network – might be serving as a substitute.
I decided early on to drop Pinterest from my arsenal. I couldn’t see why anyone would be interested in sharing stock photos. Visitors to my site would be consumers looking for products, which I don’t sell.
They would be disappointed and I would be glowing at my increase in traffic. But what good is traffic that isn’t my target audience?
I also have a Tumblr account that I hadn’t looked at in months. Talk about being inactive. As far as I can tell, I’ve never gotten any traffic from Tumblr (why would I?) so I just closed my account. Hurray!
I’m glad I deleted Tumblr. The meager content certainly didn’t reflect well on my brand.
How about you? Do you have a social media strategy? Are you on networks you barely use?