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How Largest Companies' Social Efforts Stack Up

Fortune Global 100 companies engaging with customers more, using increasingly targeted social accounts, new research shows.

10 Tips For Tapping Consumer Sentiment On Social Networks
10 Tips For Tapping Consumer Sentiment On Social Networks
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A study released last month reveals some interesting data about the use of public social media among Fortune Global 100 companies. The study shows not only a marked increase in the overall use of social media since 2010, but also growing engagement from both the customer and corporate side, as well as more focused social media presence.

The Global Social Media Check-Up 2012, conducted by Burson-Marsteller in conjunction with social media monitoring firm Visible Technologies, examined how Fortune Global 100 companies are using Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The study also provides information on the use of Google+ and Pinterest, but there is less data on those platforms given that they haven't been around as long.

One of the most interesting things to come out of the survey is the finding that companies are targeting their social media presence in different ways to appeal to different audiences.

In general, companies have increased the average number of accounts they have. For example, in 2010 companies had an average of 4.2 Twitter accounts; in 2011 they had an average of 5.8 Twitter accounts; and in 2012 they had an average of 10.1 Twitter accounts. That is more than a doubling of the average number of Twitter accounts in two years. The average number of Facebook accounts went from 2.1 in 2010 to 10.4 in 2012, and the average number of YouTube accounts went from 1.6 in 2010 to 8.1 in 2012.

Why all the different accounts?

Companies are focusing their social media presence to appeal to different audiences. For example, the study shows several different Ford Twitter accounts. There's a general company account, there's one focused on Ford trucks, there's one focused on Ford's Lincoln brand, and there's one focused on Ford's Electric Vehicle (EV) offerings. Wells Fargo, meanwhile, has a Twitter account for general news, one for career opportunities, and one for customer support. Companies are also creating multiple pages based on geographies and language.

It just makes sense. Companies have long had multiple Web pages and even websites devoted to specific demographics, but, given the level of engagement required for successful social networking presence, it's important to target audience and the messages that audience receives when users engage with the brand.

[ Are you ready to help your company go social? Read 5 Social Skills IT Pros Must Have. ]

Now in its third year, the study notes that the number of Fortune Global 100 companies using at least one social media platform has increased from 79% in 2010 to 87% in 2012. Of the social platforms the companies are using, Twitter has been the most popular for the last three years, followed by Facebook and YouTube.

The average number of Twitter followers per Fortune Global 100 corporate Twitter account nearly tripled in the last year, while the average number of Twitter accounts each corporate account is following has increased by a whopping 182% since 2010. Seventy-nine percent of corporate accounts engage on Twitter with retweets and @ mentions, according to the study.

Nearly three-quarters of the Fortune Global 100 companies have a Facebook presence, and the average corporate Facebook Page's community has increased by 275% since 2010, with the average number of likes per page jumping from 40,884 in 2010 to 152,646 in 2012. Seventy percent of corporate Pages are responding to comments made on Facebook.

The study also suggests that companies are making effective use of social media sites as their personal publishing platforms, creating unique content and making use of features such as Facebook's Timeline to feature compelling graphics.

The study also shows that Fortune Global 100 companies are not being cautious about trying out up-and-coming social platforms. Nearly half of companies included in the research have Google+ accounts, and one-quarter have Pinterest accounts.

With all that said, it seems that corporate leaders are not jumping on board. A report from DOMO and CEO.com found that 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs have zero presence on social networks. There are some notable exceptions, however, including Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and newly minted Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

Every company needs a social networking policy, but don't stifle creativity and productivity with too much formality. Also in the debut, all-digital Social Media For Grownups issue of The BrainYard: The proper tools help in setting social networking policy for your company and ensure that you'll be able to follow through. (Free with registration.)

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