How Fortune 500 Companies Use Social Media

How Fortune 500 Companies Use Social Media

By: Shelly Kramer
May 28, 2012

How Fortune 500 companies use social mediaWhen it comes to implementing a digital marketing strategy that includes an active social media presence, large corporations are often slow-moving, even hesitant adopters.

Yet the importance of large companies using social media can’t be overstated. Not only can a strategic, well-executed social presence lead to increased revenue, new business development opportunities and other ROI-worthy outcomes, research also shows that executives who use social media are viewed as more trustworthy. And the same can probably be said of the companies they lead.

Let’s look at some of the Fortune 500 social media usage statistics:

  • 23 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a corporate blog, a number that has remained fairly steady throughout the last 3 years. Even more telling, 37 percent of Inc.’s 500 Fastest Growing Companies have a corporate blog.
  • 35 percent of the top 100 Fortune 500 companies have a corporate blog compared to 14 percent of those Fortune 500 companies in the bottom 300-500 of the category. Hmmm, top companies devoting more attention to their corporate blogs than those in the bottom of the pack—no surprise to us.
  • 62 percent of Fortune 500 companies have an active corporate Twitter account and have tweeted in the last 30 days.
  • The industry with the most Twitter accounts is specialty retail, the industry that also has the most number of blogs. For B2C enterprises, that just makes good sense. But across the board, it’s interesting to note that just about every one of the Fortune 500 companies has a presence on Twitter. There’s probably a reason for that.
  • Fortune 500 companies with the highest number of Twitter followers include Google, Whole Foods, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, The Washington Post, Verizon Wireless, Coca-Cola and McDonalds. Want to understand social media best practices? Take a look at some of the engagement that happens in these companies’ Twitter streams (and take a gander at their Facebook pages while you’re at it).
  • 58 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a corporate Facebook page, with Insurance, Specialty Retail (apparel, home, appliances, furniture) and Food Production, Services and Drug Store categories leading the way. No surprises there.

How Fortune 500 companies use social media

Sites like Facebook and Twitter are undeniably important when it comes to establishing a company presence and connecting with consumers – hence the importance for B2C companies to participate in the social media space.

It was surprising to us to see no mention of LinkedIn (which we find to be an integral component of social media strategies for our B2B clients). It would have also been nice to see a breakdown of the differences in B2C social media participation of the Fortune 500 vs. B2B participation. I’ll bet if I dig around a little bit, I can find a study that addresses that … stay tuned.

The drop off in corporate blogging wasn’t surprising. Blogging is all about creating fresh content, providing a resource for customers and prospects, and bringing leads to your website that you can ultimately convert to sales. It’s not rocket science. And it only pays off if you do it. But therein lies the rub – blogging is hard work.  And many companies create a corporate blog without any thought about what kind of time and effort will need to be devoted to the effort or any content marketing strategy in place. They get started, realize how hard it is, then their blogging activity either tapers off or stops completely. HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing report makes it easy to see all the reasons you—or Fortune 500 companies—need to be blogging.

How corporate blogging drives leads

B2C companies who blog regularly see an 88 percent increase in median monthly leads and B2B companies who blog see a 67 percent increase in median monthly leads. It really is that simple. (Psst, by the way – that’s one of the things we help clients do, build and manage and create content for their blogs).

Were you surprised by any of the stats in the infographic? And do you think that, as a whole, Fortune 500 companies view and approach social media differently than their small business counterparts?

Lead image via CNNMoney

  • Nice Infographic, great way to break down the numbers

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Mark! Glad you enjoyed.

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  • Great post, thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Aimee :))


  • Nice work Shelly. I might be wrong here, but it seems to me that for the past few years, the % of INC 500 companies blogging has far outpaced the % of Fortune 500 companies blogging. Are companies using blogs to jump up the charts, then quitting or scaling back when they hit it big? That wouldn’t seem to make sense.  

  • Anonymous

    Interesting point. I really don’t think it’s as strategic as that, Stephen. I think that they get started blogging and have no idea what’s really involved. From a content strategy, to getting the content produced to distributing it across the web and seeing any results (which is something they often overlook the necessity for) …. and then, because it’s hard, they quit. We find that writing the content is the easy part, getting it read, that’s the tricky part. And that’s the part that companies also don’t know how to do and/or realize they need to invest time and money in.

    And so they try it, it’s hard, they get no traffic and no readers, they figure blogging is a waste of time, so they stop.

    If there was a strategy involved in trying to jump to the charts (and how would that really happen) … I would be surprised.

  • Md_martindale

    Hi Shelly, many thanks for this.

    I think you’ve already answered my question about the fall-off in blogging & twitter accounts 2009 to 2011 amongst the Top 100 – do you think it highlights the increasing corporate need for immediate results ie ‘Been there, tried it, too much like hard work for the impact on the bottom line’?

    I totally understand how social can help internally with speed of communication but would like to find more evidence of how it helps drive revenues, rather than just be measured on ‘Likes’. Do you know of any reports in the public domain that can add insight to this, please?


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  • padhma

    very informative, tks.

  • Robert Butler

    I’d like to point out what a stark contradiction this infographic makes. Telling us that it’s imperative to invest in social media and at the same time point out that 400 out of the top 500 greatest money making businesses in America today do NOT have a social media presence. So basically 4/5 of the fortune 500 companies are doing just fine without social media.

  • ShellyKramer

    Hi Robert,

    Welcome. Though it seems like you might come looking for an argument. Which you won’t get from me–I’m totally fine with you and I having different points of view, on this topic or any one.

    I disagree with the thought that this shows some of the largest companies are doing fine with social media, thus they don’t need it. Instead, I think instead it’s a great example of the fact that when you’re driving a very large ship, it’s often hard to turn. And sometimes, the larger the ship, the slower adoption is. Working with any number of enterprise level clients, we see this firsthand.

    See this post, just published today by Marketing Profs and reporting recent research done by the University of Massachussetts at Dartmouth. As reported by MProfs, “the use of blogging, Facebook and Twitter among the nation’s largest companies–those listed on the 2012 Fortune 500, has surged in 2012.”

    Some quick stats (also from this post)

    – “73% now use *Twitter* (have an official corporate account with tweet activity in the previous month), up 11 percentage points (or 17.7%) from the 62% that did so in 2011.
    – -66% have a corporate *Facebook* page, up 8 points (or 13.8%) from the 58% that did so a year earlier.
    – -28% have a corporate public-facing *blog* from the primary corporation with posts in the previous 12 months, up 5 points (or 21.7%) from the 23% that did so in 2011.”

    One other stat that was really interesting was that the top performing companies in the F500 were the ones who adopted social media and corporate blogging more rapidly and more fully than those in the bottom of the list. Here’s a quote from the post directly:

    “Corporations ranked in the top 200 of the F500 tend to blog far more than those in the bottom 200.

    More than one-half (54%) of all F500 blogs are published by the top 200 corporations, whereas 28% are published by companies ranked 300 to 500 on the list.

    Since 2008, rank has influenced the adoption of blogging among the F500, whereas rank plays a smaller role in Facebook and Twitter adoption, the study found.”

    Here’s the full post from Marketing Profs if you would like to read more:
    Bottom line, not every Fortune 500 company has embraced the digital space and is using social media and/or corporate blogging as part of their integrated marketing strategies. However, there are many that do. And oftentimes, those who do are some of the top performing or fastest growing companies.

    If you don’t believe that it’s imperative to invest in social media, of course, that choice is entirely up to you. I’m a huge believer in data driven marketing and the data shows us, and our clients, that corporate blogging generates results, as does participation in social media channels. And results? That’s what we care about.

    As always, thanks for coming by, and for sharing your thoughts. They are always welcome.

  • Robert Butler

    I think you might be reversing cause and effect here, but as you said, it’s your opinion and I can respect that.

    I’m in no way trying to say social media is a bad thing. Perhaps my original comment seemed like an attack and yet it was just a reaction to the infographic and not really to say that social media doesn’t work or is a bad thing.
    The reason I commented was that the infographic doesn’t seem to show the intent of the article. Perhaps I read it wrong.
    In any case, I’ll stop there and really am not looking for an argument. I am a big fan of Google+ and Twitter so please don’t take that the wrong way.

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