Social Media Marketing Fortune 500 Style

7 Actionable Social Media Marketing Tactics [Research]

Geek Fairy | Free coloured round social media icons The Fortune 500 are using social media at a growing rate according to research by the University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth. Historically the Fortune 500 have been slow to adapt social media while high growth firms represented by the Inc 500 leveraged social media platforms to cost effectively build their businesses.

Intuitively, this makes sense since Fortune 500 companies have greater resources and ability to pay for pricy branding, advertising and media placement. Further, social media requires these larger, more complex organizations be more transparent in their public dealings and speak with a human voice while accepting that prospects, consumers and the public have an equal ability to contribute to the social media ecosystem.

Fortune 500 use of social media marketing

Use of social media marketing by the Fortune 500 has increased across platforms based on the University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth research.

Notable for its absence in the following chart is LinkedIn. This is most likely attributable to the fact that many firms use LinkedIn for its support of their talent acquisition and advertising rather than as a social media or content marketing platform.

Fortune 500 use of Social Media based on research by UMass Dartmouth 2013

1. Over three-quarters of Fortune 500 companies tweet.

Three hundred eighty-seven or 77% of the Fortune 500 have corporate Twitter accounts with a tweet in the past thirty days, an increase of 4% since 2012. Worth noting is that five companies have Twitter accounts with no activity.

Since Twitter provides a short hand communication, it’s no surprise that two of the top companies are airlines that use the platform to get time sensitive information to travelers.  2013 Fortune 500 - UMass Dartmouth-Top Twitter Followers

2. Seven out of ten Fortune 500 companies are on Facebook.

Given Facebook’s broad global reach, what’s surprising is that over a quarter of the Fortune 500 aren’t present. In today’s social media landscape, having a Facebook page requires continual content and engagement.

The top Fortune 500 firms in terms of the number of Facebook fans are all well loved consumer brands. Instead of considering Facebook as a potential for gathering negative comments, these companies have continued to build their fan base. These fans can be considered part of an organization’s equity.  2013 Fortune 500 - UMass Dartmouth-top Facebook Fans

3. Roughly seven out of ten Fortune 500 firms have a YouTube account.

345 of the Fortune 500 have corporate YouTube accounts, a 7% increase from last year. This makes sense since YouTube is the second largest search engine therefore it’s important to have a presence here.

4. Over a third of Fortune 500 firms have an active Google+ account.

193 Fortune 500 companies have active Google+ accounts while another ninety-three companies or about one-fifth of the Fortune 500 have Google+ corporate accounts that aren’t yet active. It’s notable that this is the only social media venue examined that had a large number of inactive accounts. This may be attributable to the fact that large organizations are concerned with claiming their turf on Google owned properties.

5. Just less than one in ten Fortune 500 companies have a Pinterest  account.

Forty-five of the Fortune 500 firms have Pinterest accounts, up from eleven firms in 2012. Use of Pinterest requires that organizations think about how to present their firm and related content in a visual format.

6. Almost one tenth of Fortune 500 firms have Instagram accounts.

Corporations are learning to get visual about their content. On Instagram this translates to showing your organization via photographs. Forty-four companies had Instagram accounts in 2013.

7. Roughly one out of three Fortune 500 companies has a corporate blog.

The UMass Dartmouth research counted Fortune 500 blogs based on having “a public-facing corporate blog from the primary corporation with current posts.”  Since research was based on ability to find a blog within a corporate site, there’s a significant chance that these blogs are undercounted because the reality is that blogs are more likely to be associated with divisions and brands under separate customer facing sites.  Fortune 500 Blogging - Social Media Marketing Tactic - UMass Dartmouth research

While 2013 showed the largest increase in companies that blog, this may be attributed to other factors, specifically:

  • Increased importance of content marketing
  • Provides ability to communicate with prospects, customers and the public.
  • Allows social sharing enabling readers and visitors to extend their reach at no cost.

About four out of five Fortune 500 blogs are up-to-date, specifically they allow comments, provide RSS feeds and offer subscriptions. Yet one-fifth of Fortune 500 organizations have allowed their blogging efforts to fall off the radar, translation: these businesses haven’t seen measurable business results.

 

7 Actionable social media marketing tips based on the Fortune 500

The fact that the Fortune 500 are slowly using a broader assortment of social media venues is a signal that your business should be incorporating social media into your marketing plans. Here are seven actionable social media marketing tips to help you.

  1. Use a mix of social media platforms. You must offer your target audience contextually relevant messages based on their needs.
  2. Answer questions. Find out what information your customers and the public at large are looking for. Provide answers with non-promotional content. This is particularly important since most customers start the purchase process before marketers realize that they’re in market.
  3. Integrate your social media and content marketing plans. The Fortune 500 use a combination of different types of content across social media including text, images and video. Understand that the Inc 500 have been better at this than the Fortune 500.
  4. Determine what your competitors are doing on social media. Check out how your competitors, both large and small, use different social media platforms. Where do they appear to be gaining traction?
  5. Celebrate your prospects and customers on social media. Leverage the power of social media to engage with your community and co-create content.
  6. Include a social media call-to-action. Encourage readers to do something after they’ve consumed your content on a social media platform. To this end, ensure that you continue to use the same branding and wording. Also, don’t expect to convert a large percentage of social media engagement into quick sales. Most readers are in the information gathering process and aren’t yet ready to pull the trigger.
  7. Measure your results. Incorporate metrics aligned with your business goals.

Like the Fortune 500, it’s time to get your firm established on social media and to integrate social media into your marketing plans.

What other actionable social media marketing tips do you recommend and why?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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  • Nabeel

    This is a very interesting article but i would like to propose something which says the total opposite of what this article infers!

    According to research by analytics firm McKinsey & Co seven out of ten global brands are failing to engage with consumers on their social media platforms, with one quarter of all companies closing their wall on Facebook to prevent customers from making comments or asking questions about their products.

    The full article can be seen here:
    http://theiod.co/13dEcmE

  • Nora Ganim Barnes

    First, thanks Heidi for the great post with spot on actionable points.

    In response to Nabeel, we saw Facebook used more for advertising, broadcasting,
    engagement through promotions, special sales and insider deals and Twitter used
    more for direct customer engagement in the form of comments, complaints or even
    questions about products. It may be that these companies are creating strategy for tools as well as an overall social media plan. I appreciate you both looking at our study and contributing to the discussion.