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The Fortune 500 and Social Media - A Longitudinal Study of Blogging, Twitter and Facebook Usage by America's Largest Companies - By Nora Garim Barnes

The Fortune 500 and Social Media - A Longitudinal Study of Blogging, Twitter and Facebook Usage by America's Largest Companies - By Nora Garim Barnes

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Research by Professor Nora Ganim Barnes on the use of social media among the biggest companies in the US.
Research by Professor Nora Ganim Barnes on the use of social media among the biggest companies in the US.

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Published by: Customs Street Advisors on Nov 12, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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The Fortune 500 and Social Media: A Longitudinal Studyof Blogging, Twitter and Facebook Usage by America’sLargest Companies
Conducted By:Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D.
Introduction
Fortune Magazine annually compiles a list of America’s largest corporations, aptlynamed the “Fortune 500” given their size and wealth. Due to the hugely influential rolethat these companies play in the business world, studying their usage of newtechnological tools like social media offers important insights into the future of commerce. While these companies may not always be the first to innovate, they doprovide a look at emergent trends among America’s most successful companies.In 2008, the Center for Marketing Research at the University of MassachusettsDartmouth released one of the first studies of the Fortune 500 (F500) adoption and in2009 repeated that study expanding it to include the usage of one of the fastest growingsocial media tools – Twitter.This new study (2010) revisits those prior in-depth studies and expands again to look atthe F500’s usage of another popular and fast growing social media platform – Facebook.This research also builds on the Center’s work since 2007 examining social media in avariety of organizations including the Inc. 500, US colleges and universities and theForbes list of the 200 largest charities. (http://www.umassd.edu/cmr
 
)Each May the list of the top 500 companies is released in a special issue of FortuneMagazine. The Fortune 500 (F500) list includes publicly and privately held companiesfor which revenues are publicly available. For more information on the F500, please visithttp://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/ .A detailed summary of the findings of this study and the methodology follows. To beadded to the email distribution list so that you can stay abreast of our research and papers,please emailnbarnes@umassd.edu.
Methodology
For purposes of this research, the following definition was used to locate 2010 F500companies with blogs: A company was counted as having a blog if they had
 a public- facing corporate blog from the primary corporation with posts in the past 12 months.
This is the same definition used in the 2008 and 2009 studies(http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/studiesresearch/welcome.cfm
 
)
 
 Due to the complexity of corporate legal structures in this group and no clearmethodology on how subsidiaries have been located or analyzed by others, the researchpresented here continues to focus on the primary/listed corporation. While weacknowledge that mergers and acquisitions along with expansions have resulted insegments or subsidiaries with blogs, our focus has consistently been at the corporatelevel.In addition, it is worth noting that there is evidence of usage of social media such as blogsinside of large companies like the F500. This research did not look at that subject butinstead focused on public-facing corporate blogs as a barometer of social media usage toengage the public.All companies were analyzed using multiple steps. First, working from the published2010 F500 list, all corporate home pages were examined for links to, or mention of,corporate blogs. If none were found, a search on the company’s site was conducted usingthe key word “blog”. Any links resulting from that search were followed and evaluatedusing the established criteria.If no blogs were located on the home page or through a site search, other search engineswere used. Both Google and Technorati (a leading blog-focused search engine) wereemployed to check for corporate blogs using key words that included the primary/listedcompany name and the word “blog”. This proved to be an effective method sinceadditional blogs were located. A search of other sites gathering information on the F500was also reviewed for any mention of blogs in that group.Similarly, all companies were analyzed through multiple steps to locate corporate Twitteraccounts. First, working from the 2010 F500 list, all corporate home pages wereexamined for links to, or mention of, a corporate Twitter account. If none were found, asearch on the company’s website was conducted using the keyword “Twitter.” Any linksresulting from that search were followed and evaluated using the established criteria.If no Twitter accounts were located on the home page or through a site search, Googlewas used to search for Twitter accounts using keywords that included the primary/listedcompany name and the word “Twitter.” If no Twitter accounts were found this way, asearch on the Twitter website was conducted using the primary/listed company name.These additional approaches proved to be effective as some Twitter accounts werelocated using this method. The same methodology was used to locate Facebook profilesfor each company in the 2010 F500 using multiple searches on multiple platforms.All 500 companies on the list were researched using this process. This is the only knownattempt to examine the entire F500 list for use of the microblogging tool, Twitter and thepopular social networking platform Facebook.The data was collected in August/September 2010 at the University of MA DartmouthCenter for Marketing Research and the results follow.
 
 
1. Blogs in the 2010 F500
 One hundred and sixteen (23%) of the primary corporations listed on the 2010 F500 havea public-facing corporate blog with a post in the past 12 months. These include four of the top five corporations (Wal-Mart, Exxon, Chevron and General Electric).The only company in the top 5 in 2010 without a public facing blog is Bank of America.They do have a URL for a blog that is described as a “blog beta” called Future Banking,but no active blog could be located at this time.Included in those companies adding blogs in 2010 is Exxon. The company launched ablog in June of this year, shortly after the BP oil spill in the Gulf region of the US.Conoco Philips, now ranked 6
th
in the F500, does not have a blog at this time. SeeAppendix 1.In our 2008 study of F500 blogs, 81 companies (16%) had blogs that met the criteria forthis study. In 2009, 108 F500 companies (22%) had blogs. In both years, 3 of the top 5ranked companies had blogs. Exxon and Conoco Philips were the exceptions. In 2010,116 companies (23%) have blogs meeting our criteria for an increase of just 1% from2009.
2. Blogs by Industry
 The 116 companies with blogs come from a cross section of industries. A partial list ispresented below showing those industries with the greatest presence in the blogosphere.Blogging varied by industry type. As might be expected, companies in the industry of computer software, peripherals and office equipment have had the most blogs in all threeyears of our study (8, 11, and 11). Companies in this category include Hewlett-Packard,Dell, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and Xerox.

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