Look Who’s Talking: Fortune 500 Companies take it to the social web in 2009

Using the social web for corporate communications and interactivity is UP, UP, UP according to a new study by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. The study looked specifically at Fortune 500 Companies’ usage of blogs, Twitter, podcasting and video blogging.

The research, conducted by Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., Eric Mattson CEO, Financial Insite,  (Fortune 500 and Social Media) revealed that three out of 5 of the top 5 Fortune 500 companies have public facing blogs.

Who’s blogging in 2010?

Wal-Mart (#2), Chevron (#3) and General Electric (#5). And consistent with the 2008 list, Exxon Mobil (#1) and Conoco Phillips (#4) do not have blogs.

An up tick in blogging across The Fortune 500 industries include:

  • Computer Software, Peripherals, Office Equipment
  • Specialty Retail (Home Depot, Toys R Us, etc.)
  • Telecommunications
  • Food Production, Services and Drug Stores
  • Commercial Banks
  • Insurance
  • Semiconductors
  • Information Technology
  • Motor Vehicle

And it looks like these companies are playing by the rules of social interactivity as the research reveals that 90% percent of the Fortune 500 blogs take comments, have RSS feeds and take subscriptions.

Tracking similar trends in law firms, the report shows that smaller, more entreprenurial businesses, such as those listed on the Inc. 500, are blogging at a higher rate than the large Fortune 500 Companies; the main difference being possibly related to the size of the company, internal structure or corporate philosophy regarding open communication with its stakeholders.

Who’s All a Twitter?

Of the 108 blogs documented in the study, 93 (86%) are linked directly to a corporate Twitter account tripling the numbers from the 2008 list.

“One hundred and seventy-three (35%) of the primary corporations listed on the 2009 Fortune 500 has a Twitter account with a post within the past thirty days. Of these companies, four of the top five corporations (Wal-Mart, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and General Electric), consistently post on their Twitter accounts. The number one ranked company, Exxon Mobil, does not have a Twitter account at this time.

“Interactivity with readers was examined by the number of @replies or “retweets” and by checking the dateof the last post to determine how current it was. One hundred and twenty companies (69%) consistently responded with @replies or retweets within the past thirty days. These Twitter accounts are kept up-to-date with current news and information. There is consistent interaction with other users and on-going discussions that are easy to follow.”

What can law firms take away from this raw data?

A few things come to mind.

  • While this raw data may not be terribly instructive in any practical way, it sure confirms a major transition in corporate communications.
  • Law firms need to understand why this is important to their clients and how it’s impacting their culture and business.
  • “We understand your business” tag line people need to experience the feeling of social transparency first hand in order to know their clients’ business.
  • Law firms need to open lines of communication with the public – not just for “hey look at how great I am” messages but for contributing dialogue for the greater good.

What do you think?

Link to a PDF download of the study.

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