The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth recently conducted a new in-depth and statistically valid study on the usage of social media in fast-growing corporations. This new study revisits the Center’s work on the Inc. 500 social media usage for the fifth consecutive year, making it a valuable and rare longitudinal study of corporate use of these new technologies.
In 2007, the Center’s first study of this group and their use of social media was released and revealed that the Inc. 500 was outpacing the revenue based Fortune 500 in their use of social media. For example, at that time, research showed that 8% of the Fortune 500 companies were blogging compared to 19% of the Inc. 500. This difference continued in 2008 with 16% of the Fortune 500 blogging vs. 39% of the Inc. 500. This trend held in 2009 with the Inc. 500 blogging at a rate of 45%, while the Fortune 500 had 22% of its list with corporate blogs. The following year was no different with half of the Inc. 500 blogging and only 23% of the Fortune 500.
The fact that blogging had leveled off among the world’s largest and most profitable companies raised questions about the use of this mature tool. This study indicates that there is now support for the proposition that the use of blogging may have peaked as a primary social media tool in the US business world. The new data shows adoption of blogging is declining for the first time since 2007 among the Inc. 500 companies.
As in the earlier studies, the 2011 study, under the direction of researchers Nora Ganim Barnes, and Ava Lescault is 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, thirty-four percent (170) of the Inc. 500 participated, making this research statistically valid at +/- 6%.
This research proves once again that social media has penetrated parts of the business world at a tremendous speed. It also indicates that corporate usage of social media within the Inc. 500 has changed in the past 12 months. We are now seeing the incorporation of new platforms and tools including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, texting, downloadable mobile apps and Foursquare while we note the reduction in use of blogging, message boards, video blogging, podcasting and MySpace.
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