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u-mass-types-of-social-media-use-at-companies2-jan12.gifThe use of blogging has dropped to 37% of the 2011 Inc. 500, representing a 26% decline from 50% in 2010, and an 18% fall from 45% in 2009, according to a study released in January 2012 by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Other platforms experiencing a year-over-year fall in usage among the Inc. 500 include message/bulletin boards, from 33% to 15%, online video, from 33% to 24%, and podcasting, from 16% to 6%.

Out With the Old, In With the New

The platform most utilized by the Inc. 500 is Facebook, which rose to 74% penetration in 2011 from 71% in 2010, closely followed by LinkedIn (73%). The adoption of Twitter has also continued to increase, reaching 64% in 2011, up from 59% in 2010 and 52% in 2009. YouTube is currently being used by 45%, while Foursquare jumped from 5% to 13% adoption, slightly behind mobile applications, which debuted in 2011’s survey at 15%. Overall, 91% of respondents reported using social media to market their brands.

As these fast-growing companies evolve to enterprise-level, research suggests their social media use will proliferate: according to a survey released in January 2012 by Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group, enterprise-level companies of over 1000 employees now average 178 corporate-owned social media accounts, with the average enterprise company owning the most accounts on Twitter (39), followed by blogs (32), Facebook (30), and LinkedIn (29).

Blogging More Successful Than SocNets

u-mass-success-rate-of-social-media-marketing-2007-2011-jan12.gifInterestingly, most of the platforms that declined in penetration among the Inc. 500 in 2011 were rated very highly by their users. For example, 92% of those using a blogging platform said it has been successful for their business, up from 86% in 2010. Message/bulletin boards were rated even more highly, with 96% of users finding them successful. By contrast, Facebook was rated successful by only 82% of its users, down from 85% the previous year, putting the social network behind Twitter (86%, up from 81% in 2010), and LinkedIn (90%).

Adoption Easier Said Than Done

When asked if they planned to adopt any of the social media technologies that they were not currently using, respondents’ intents did not often translate into practice. For example, in the 2010 study, 42% of those not blogging said they intended to adopt the tool, although actual usage in 2011 declined markedly. Similarly, 34% of 2010’s non-Facebook users reported planning to adopt it, yet the actual use of Facebook only increased by 3% points.

In 2011, 56% of those not blogging reported planning to do so, with adoption intent also high for those not using LinkedIn (40%), YouTube (39%), and mobile apps (38%).

Other Findings:

  • Inc. 500 respondents report that social media technologies are most important for increasing brand awareness (90%), building company reputation (90%), increasing web traffic (88%), and lead generation (81%).
  • 68% of the companies reported monitoring their brands or company name in the social media space, down from 70% in 2010.
  • 43% of respondents said they would be increasing their investment in social media by at least 20% in the coming year.
  • The leading methods for measuring the effectiveness of social media efforts were number of fans, followers, and supporters (26%), web traffic (25%), and value of new leads generated (16%). 1 in 10 said they do not measure their social media efforts.
  • Two-thirds of the companies reported retraining or repositioning existing employees to handle their social media efforts, compared to only 7% who said they had made new hires specifically for those efforts.

About the Data: The Center for Market Research findings are the result of a nationwide telephone survey of those companies named by Inc. Magazine to the Inc. 500 list for 2011. All interviews took place from September to November of 2011. The list was released in the September 2011 issue of Inc. Magazine. In this fifth iteration, 34% (170) of the Inc. 500 participated.

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