Apple, Facebook and Google may be leading technology companies but they are laggards in their use of social media for corporate communications, according to the most comprehensive review to date.
In a review of more than 500 major companies conducted by Investis, the international leader in digital corporate communications, Apple trailed in 416th, Facebook could only reach 242nd spot and Google was 62nd. The tech giants’ scores for their use of social media left them far behind other sector leaders such as Cisco Systems and HP, first and second overall, as well as other high performers such as General Electric (14th), UPS (21st) and Ford Motor Company (22nd).
The Investis IQ review analyzed companies to score their use of eight leading social media channels including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. A team of researchers assessed more than 250,000 data points to rank companies across a number of areas including the range of content that they publish, their success in attracting an audience and their engagement with their followers.
Apple makes little effort to engage with its corporate audience on social media and achieved a paltry score of 9% overall, compared to the 86% score awarded to Cisco.
Facebook was marked down because it did not engage with its corporate audience using the other social media platforms reviewed. Even on its own platform, Facebook’s investor relations page fell well short of best practice. For example, it does not use videos or hashtags and it does not appear to have responded to any of the posts left by users.
Google does maintain a presence across most of the key social media channels, even those that might be considered competitors to YouTube and Google +. It has more than 2.5m followers on LinkedIn and 19m likes on Facebook. However, it scored poorly for the lack of corporate content and the absence of any information about investor relations or corporate social responsibility.
Marcus Fergusson, research director at Investis, said: “This is the most comprehensive review of the use of social media for corporate communications that has ever been conducted. US companies like Cisco and Hewlett-Packard are leading the way in using social media to communicate with corporate audiences. However, many others have much to learn since they fall well short of emerging best practice. Leading companies now recognise that engaging with social media is an integral part of the corporate communications mix.”
Other key findings
- Sectors that have faced reputational challenges, such as oil and gas and banking, are making a notable effort with social media. Banking was the second highest-scoring sector overall behind technology with Citigroup performing best in the sector with 71% thanks to its regular engagement with customers across a wide range of channels. Construction (23rd) and Basic Resources (24th) are among the lowest-scoring sectors.
- The highest-scoring company across all eight social media channels was Cisco Systems, with 86%. Other notable US examples of best practice include Ford which managed to score 90% for its use of Twitter due to its consistency of posting, impressive use of design features and operation of over a dozen regional accounts.
- Only 76% of Nasdaq 100 companies maintain a corporate Twitter account which compares with 100% of the Dow Jones and 92% of the S&P 100.
Whilst 94% of companies in the review now have some presence on social media, the review shows there is a wide disparity between those who regularly post engaging content across a variety of channels and those who post infrequently and see social media as a one way street to be used at their convenience.
The review reveals that corporate content is an important driver of social media engagement, even on accounts that are primarily used for marketing purposes. Companies also attract significantly more followers and receive more and better interaction if they reply to user comments, post regularly and vary the content of their posts.