Fortune 500 Companies Have Room to Grow on Social

Many are using social sites and blogs, but usage has slowed in 2011

Many of the Fortune 500, the largest companies in the US, are using Facebook, Twitter and corporate blogs, but not much has changed with their activity in the past year.

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research released its latest study on social media adoption by Fortune 500 companies in October 2011. This year, the study found that 61% of Fortune 500 companies had an active Twitter account, with at least one new post in the past 30 days.


Fortune 500 Companies that Use Select Social Media, 2011 (% of 

Looking at previous reports from the Center for Marketing Research, this percentage is up from 35% in 2009 but about the same as 2010, which was 60%. Additionally, there hasn’t been much change when it comes to public-facing corporate blogs, with 23% of Fortune 500 companies using a blog in both 2010 and 2011.


Fortune 500 Companies that Have a Public-Facing Corporate Blog, 
2008-2011 (% of total)

This apparent slowing down of social media adoption is interesting, as many of the Fortune 500 companies, such as Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Levi’s, are well-known for their social outreach. However, this may be the saturation point for social media among the largest US companies. By now, if a large company with a big budget wants to be active in social, it probably already is. And those that are not may be larger holding companies or B2B brands that do not have public-facing social media as part of their communications plan.

This plateauing is also interesting when comparing the Fortune 500 to the Inc. 500, which is a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the US. Social buzz and outreach can contribute a lot to a company’s growth, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a socially savvy company show up on the Inc. 500.

In fact, the latest Center for Marketing Research study on Inc. 500 companies, looking at 2010, found that 86% of Inc. 500 companies think social media is very or somewhat important to their business and marketing strategy. Their focus on social is something Fortune 500 companies can learn from and, possibly, grow.


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