Blog usage is on the upswing for Fortune 500 companies. They are also ramping up their investment in Instagram to reach their targets.
A newly released UMass study of social media usage by this elite group of companies found that Instagram and blogging are the fastest growing tools even as top social networking platforms LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter remain strong.
Facebook Still Go-To Network
The disclosure of fake accounts, hate speech and porn on Facebook may have slowed its growth from its historic highs, but it is still the go-to social network. “Companies aren’t closing their accounts,” said Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, co-author of this annual study, now in its 10thyear. “They feel the need for a presence where they can be found. When you’re a network of that size, you’re much too big to fail,” she said.
The same can’t be said for Google+, which was not included in this year’s study. Google recently announced that it is shutting down its network next year. “Google+ didn’t have a distinct place,” Barnes said. “It never replaced something else. It was an add-on overwhelmed by other choices. No one could define a need for it.”
A summary of the study’s highlights:
- Blogs: Corporate blogs are steadily becoming more prevalent on company websites. With an 11% increase in blog usage from last year, more and more companies are taking ownership of their relationships with their customers. 53% now have corporate blogs.
- Twitter: With 91% of the Fortune 500 companies actively using Twitter, it has proven to be a platform in which companies should focus their social media efforts. Through engaging content, and word-of-mouth, Twitter metrics can lead to a higher email subscription rate, as well as an overall growth in sales for the company.
- Facebook: 89% of the Fortune 500 companies are actively using Facebook. All of the top ten Fortune 500 companies are using Facebook. Facebook ‘likes’ can be beneficial when advertising to targeted segments.
- Instagram: With its constant innovations, Instagram proves to be an important marketing tool for companies. The steady increase in usage over the past five years (up 10% from last year), makes it a platform to watch going forward. 63% have corporate Instagram accounts.
- YouTube: YouTube has been ranked among the top destinations for domestic and global web traffic. With more than 1 billion users, and more than half of those users utilizing YouTube from a mobile device, having a YouTube presence can provide a strong ROI. Over three-quarters of the F500 have a YouTube account.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn continues to keep its #1 spot on the social media usage chart for the fifth year in a row with 98% using the platform. Our studies suggest that LinkedIn will maintain its popularity as a business networking and recruiting tool going forward
Visual Communication Moves Audiences
The 2018 F500 are investing in highly visual and content friendly platforms to reach younger consumers, as pictures, storytelling, and video are the communications tools most often used by this growing cohort.
Instagram’s use by the F500 rose 10% from last year, increasing from 263 (53%) to 315 (63%) active users, according to the study. This follows significant increases every year since 2013, making Instagram and blogging the fastest growing tools in this study. Just as last year, these successful companies are adopting Instagram at a record pace and are active in posting, using hashtags, and replying to comments.
Blogs Are Back
There has been a resurgence of blogging over the past few years. “This is the original social media. Blogs were out of style for a few years and are now making an insurgence. It is an old tool being retooled,” said Barnes.
That may be because blogs have the advantage of being totally under the control of the company using it. Blogs have always been about story-telling and as a place where a company can showcase its intellectual capital and thought leadership, and get points for its community outreach. With no restrictions on content, length or format, blogging will continue to be a strong piece of a social media plan.
However, as last year’s F500 study found, the definition of a blog has broadened. Many companies are simply using their blogs interchangeably with press releases in their newsrooms. These releases tout the company’s products and services.
The study concludes that businesses are adopting new tools like Instagram, and retooling old ones like blogs, and incorporating them into a comprehensive social media strategy.