The 2011 Inc. 500 Social Media Update: Blogging Declines As Newer Tools Rule According a Study by University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research

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Use of blogging in business declines while Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter dominate, According to New Study

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Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, PhD, Senior Fellow, Society for New Communications Research & Chancellor Professor of Marketing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

These companies have embraced Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. As investments in social media increase and the role of social media becomes institutionalized in companies, the future is sure to be exciting and fast paced for these model small companies

Corporate usage of social media within the Inc. 500 has changed in the past 12 months. Companies are now incorporating new platforms and tools including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Texting, downloadable mobile apps and Foursquare while reducing their use of blogging, message boards, video blogging, podcasting and MySpace. These are some of the key findings from the latest research on social media adoption by the Inc. 500 conducted by Society for New Communications Research Senior Fellow Nora Ganim Barnes and Ava M. Lescault of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research.

The new report is the outcome of a statistically valid study of the 2011 Inc. 500. The study examined these companies to quantify their adoption of social media tools and technologies. This is the fifth year that Barnes has tracked social media usage by this sector, and it is the only statistically sound longitudinal study of its kind.

Key findings include:

Blogging declines for the first time among the Inc. 500. 50% of the 2010 Inc. 500 had a corporate blog, up from 45% in 2009 and 39% in 2008. In this new 2011 study, the use of blogging dropped to 37% by the Inc. 500. Companies in the advertising/marketing industry are most likely to blog, while companies in government services and construction make very little use of this tool. This decline mirrors a trend in other sectors as this mature tool evolves into other forms or is replaced by communication through Facebook or Twitter.

New tools replace older ones. Facebook and LinkedIn lead the way. The platform most utilized by the 2011 Inc. 500 is Facebook, with 74% of companies using it. Virtually tied at 73% is the adoption of the professional social network, LinkedIn. Twenty-five and 24% respectively report that Facebook or LinkedIn is the single most effective social networking platform they use. Texting, downloadable mobile applications, and Foursquare are being utilized by 13% - 15% of the 2011 Inc. 500.

Social media tools are seen as important for company goals and business functions. 99% of responding executives report that social media tools are important for brand awareness and company reputation. Eighty-eight percent see these tools as important for generating web traffic, while 81% find them important for lead generation. Seventy-three percent say that social media tools are important for customer support programs.

Monitoring the social media buzz levels off. The 2011 study shows 68% of companies do monitor, a slight decrease from 70% in 2010, which was the highest percent of the past five years. The Inc. 500 appears to have plateaued on their monitoring activity. This will have important consequences should they increase their investment in the social media area. Regardless of how they choose to converse with their constituents online, they will need to be aware of conversation about their companies, products and brands.

“These companies have embraced Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. As investments in social media increase and the role of social media becomes institutionalized in companies, the future is sure to be exciting and fast paced for these model small companies,” stated Barnes.

“The use of social media in the Inc. 500 is evolving,” Barnes continued. “Older tools are being shed in favor of newer, more nimble tools. Creating networks with other professionals is seen to be as important as communicating with target markets via Facebook or Twitter. These fast growing companies intend to continue to invest in social media and will fill their needs in a variety of ways including new social media hires.”

Dr. Barnes is a Senior Research Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research and serves as SNCR Co-Research Chair.

A full copy of the new research report can be downloaded at:
http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/studiesandresearch/

Additionally, Barnes will publish a paper based on the findings in an upcoming issue of the Society for New Communications Research’s Journal of New Communications Research.

About the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
To facilitate the economic development of the region by providing an affordable, high-quality economic alternative to meeting business needs for research, training, and consulting in any and all aspects of Marketing. The Center for Marketing Research is associated with and maintains a close relationship with the Chambers of Commerce within southeastern Massachusetts. This unique relationship provides the Center with an effective business networking capability. For more information, visit http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/.

About the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR)
The Society for New Communications Research is a global nonprofit 501(c)(3) research and education foundation and think tank focused on the advanced study of the latest developments in new media and communications, and their effect on traditional media and business models, communications, culture and society. For more information, visit http://sncr.org.

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