Notes: Asked which of several promotional strategies they feel has the most potential to help increase sales, 46% of executives surveyed from the 2014 Inc. 500 cited online advertising, easily outpacing business directory listings (17%), traditional print/broadcast media (13%) and social media platforms (13%). With regards to social media, the study finds that LinkedIn is the platform of choice, used by 94% of the Inc. 500 (up from 88% last year), ahead of Facebook (80%, down from 84%) and Twitter (79%, up from 74%). Survey respondents were more likely to see the potential for sales growth directly through Facebook (55%) than Twitter (50%) or Pinterest (25%). For the time being, though, these platforms are estimated to account for just a tiny fraction of annual sales: 71% of respondents estimated that 5% or less of their total annual sales come through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Almost 1 in 5 don’t know.
About the Data: The study describes its methodology in part as follows:
“First, every company named to the 2014 Inc. 500 list was examined in order to determine which social media tools they were using. Each homepage was reviewed in addition to the entire website (since some did not link to their accounts from the homepage). Search engines were also utilized to find an online presence if none was obvious after reviewing the website. All of the 2014 Inc. 500 were included in this part of the process.
Our second level of research involved interviewing a random sample of executives from the Inc. 500 list to ask questions with a specific focus on issues such as social commerce, mobile, online crisis management and social media policies. One hundred ten interviews were conducted representing 22% of the Inc. 500.
The responding executives represent a diverse group, which consists of 21 of the 26 industries on the 2014 Inc. 500 list. Eighteen percent of the companies surveyed made the top 100 on the list (9 are ranked in the top 25). Respondents reported annual company revenues ranging from under $3M to over $150M with 46% of them falling between $3m-$10m. Approximately two-thirds of the sample has 1-50 employees and 64% were founded between the years 2008-2011.”