Companies on the Inc. 500 are not conventional “small business,” although they may technically qualify as a matter of headcount (<99 employees). But there’s an interesting new study out that looks at social media trends among these companies.
It finds some general social media fatigue, diminished use of Facebook and renewed interest in blogging. Produced by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth the study is the result of telephone interviews of 170 companies on the Inc. 500 list (conducted in late 2012).
The research found that blogging was up: 44% percent of the 2012 class had a blog. This compares with 37% in 2011. The report observed that this was the first jump in blogging penetration “after remaining stagnant for years.”
I would imagine the new/renewed interest in blogging is a by product of all the buzz and promotion around “content marketing.”
Perhaps most strikingly, the report said that while 71% of the 2011 Inc. 500 companies were boosting their social media investments, only 44% of the 2012 planned to do so. In addition fewer companies were monitoring brand mentions. In 2010 70% of the list was monitoring online chatter and brand mentions, which declined to 68% in 2011 and then 63% in 2012.
The report found that a third of the companies were able to determine an ROI from social media (arguing that the majority were not able to). LinkedIn usage was up and is now the most widely used social network, while Facebook was down vs. last year. YouTube was also down considerably, while Foursquare and Pinterest saw new growth and usage.
Overall the study found that 92% of the Inc. 500 were using social media. Nearly 60% of respondents said that social media was part of their general, overall marketing plan, while 12% had a stand-alone social media program; 22% had no social media plan (emphasis on plan).
These data seem to echo other surveys showing that LinkedIn seems to have a very solid value proposition and adoption among more successful small companies (chiefly for recruiting). However, as social media have gone mainstream for companies, there’s accompanying disappointment, disillusionment or fatigue.
This is especially true at the lower end of the SMB spectrum, where most don’t have time to “do it right.” This, despite the continual exhortations of bloggers and vendors to pay more attention to social media.