Members of the Inc. 500 companies surveyed by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth are no strangers to the use of social media. Typically fast-growing and nimble, these firms have been at the forefront of social media use, compared to Fortune 500 companies, in the 3 years that the Center has published its annual study. Why then, did these firms decrease their usage rates of popular forms of social media in 2009 and what does this trend tell us about the future?
First, here are the statistics showing that Inc. 500 companies have broadly adopted social media tools.
- Social networking formats such as Facebook 80%
- Blogging 45%
- Twitter 52%
The survey results indicate high rates of satisfaction (over 80%) with social media use. Yet, not all social media use links to marketing. Here are the answers to the question regarding the importance of social media for marketing:
- Very important 43%
- Somewhat important 36%
- Somewhat unimportant 17%
- Unimportant 4%
- Don’t know 1%
It could be that many respondents also see social media use as a way to maintain good customer service.
One of the most interesting statistics from this study reveals that between 2008 and 2009, participants dropped their online video use from 45% to 36%. Similarly, podcasting rates declined from 21% to 12%. These drops occurred at the same time that social networking use soared. Though the study does not address the reason for the drop in some forms of social media, these companies may have decided to shift resources into truly interactive media which includes networking sites such as Facebook. By tracking comments and encouraging interaction, members of the Inc. 500 may be demonstrating what they find most valuable about social media – the ability to hear directly from customers.[Source: Social Media in the 2009 Inc. 500: New Tools and New Trends, Center for Marketing Research, UMass, Dartmouth, 2010