Fortune 500 Companies Increasing Their Social Media Investment

Fortune 500 firms have to do a lot of things right to generate huge revenue streams year after year. These firms were not early adopters of new advertising formats like social media. However, the latest research from the Marketing Research Center at Social Media keyboardUniversity of Massachusetts Dartmouth, authored by Nora Barnes and her team, indicates that large marketers are embracing blogs and other social media in a big way, a move that suggests they see a future in two-​way communication with consumers.

During the Great Recession, it seemed as though the top 500 U.S. firms were pulling back public-​facing blogs. In those years, only about 23% of these marketers maintained blogs. This year, the number has jumped to 34% (from 28% last year). Researchers noticed that marketers in some industries were far more likely to have blogs: telecommunications (53%), specialty retailers (46%) and food products (33%).

These large firms have also increased their activity on Twitter. About 77% of top 500 firms have a Twitter account. Industries that are most likely to be represented on Twitter are commercial banks (94%), food products (93%), and specialty retailers (91%). Retailers with the largest number of Twitter followers include Starbucks (3.8 million) and Whole Foods Market (3.3 million).

Top 500 companies are also branching out into other social media sites. 35% maintain a Google+ presence. In the past year, the number of big companies using Pinterest increased from 2% to 9%. This study, which has been published annually since 2008, included other social sites for the first time. Researchers reports that about 9% of large marketers are using Foursquare and 8% use Instagram. These findings are evidence that there’s much more to social media than blogging and Facebook.

One of the biggest challenges facing marketers now may be determining how to allocate the media budget across the various social sites. Have you found an optimal way to distribute your social media spending?

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.