Posted November 2, 2011 2:46 am by with 6 comments

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Remember the days not so long ago when there would be disappointment in Google’s numbers when they they “only” had increases in revenues and profits of 40%? It was ridiculous to even think that disappointment would be associated with those numbers.

The same kind of irrational exuberance tends to follow social media growth these days as well. No one ever wants to believe anything that doesn’t indicate outrageous growth and continued upside to all things social.

Well a report conducted by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth will certainly be a buzzkill for social media hype agents if you believe that the Fortune 500 is an indicator of just how hot something is or is not. The chart below shows that as far as Twitter goes the Fortune 500 has decided to go into a holding pattern

The same holds true for blogging. It’s not clear as to why this pattern may be emerging but there must be some serious ROI discussions that are not getting good answers or just outright paranoia about being open in an age where people only seem to want to bring big companies down. There are many theories so if you have one please share in the comments.

Ah but alas you must be thinking “The indomitable Facebook isn’t suffering from the same fate, right? Everyone loves and uses Facebook, even the Fortune 500. Well, see for yourself that the Fortune 500 have cooled their jets on Facebook as well.

One thing to keep in mind when seeing these numbers is that we are talking about the Fortune 500 which are not usually held up as the companies that are on the bleeding edge of things such as social media. One thing the biggest companies do is sit back and let the smaller more nimble types make all the mistakes, take note of where not to go then throw their considerable resources at something once they are comfortable.

What is shown by the chart below is some evidence that despite the Fortune 500’s apparent apathy in the social media realm the Inc. 500 types along with non-profits and education aren’t letting the social media world down. They are forging right ahead and making the mistakes for the big boys to learn from. Hey, someone has to do it, right?

So while the Fortune 500’s activities in social media shouldn’t necessarily sound the alarm that social media is dying it is interesting to consider that not everyone sees it as the panacea that is often preached.

What’s your take on these findings? Does it matter how the Fortune 500 views social media? Is social media better suited for smaller companies anyway? Let’s hear your thoughts.

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  • Social media is being integrated into organizations and departments that don’t have social in their title. We may be asking the wrong questions or people. Here is some conflicting 2011 data/studies that tell a different story. Which one(s) do you believe?

    Social Media Jobs Up 75% from Year Ago – Sept. 2011 10,000+ Jobs Monthly Require Digital & Social Media Skills in the job description but are not part of the job title. – Career Buider 2011.

    2011 Digital Marketing Outlook Report surveyed 199 brand marketers, 235 agency representatives, and 233 marketing technology-related professionals, and found 68 percent of respondents intend to increase the number of digital staff in their organizations this year, up from the 57 percent that did so in 2010. Top skill sets include social media marketing, social media monittoring, social community site mgmt, & blogging,

    Spending on Social Media Marketing +30% next 12 mos. to 10.1% of total budget. Almost doubling to 17.5% of total budget 5 yrs. ~ Aug. 2011 CMO Survey org

    What do you think?

    • Of course we can all find studies to support whatever position we need to keep alive. That’s one of the major problems of the social media world today. Not only is hard for companies to measure but it is even harder for the industry to measure accurately.

      We all know that social media works in many ways but we need to remain cautious in promoting that it works in all ways for all types at all times. NOTHING does that.

      We should do an odd / even date thing here at MP. On even numbered days of the month we will publish the positive and on odd numbered days the negative. There’s enough crud out there to keep us busy doing both for sure.

  • I agree. We could all find statistics to do whatever we need to make a point.

    I am not too surprised though to see the Fortune 500 being cautious even at what some might consider this late stage of the game. There is no need to brand through social media like many smaller companies must so the end game for the big companies can be very different than the little guys.

    Thanks for checking in.

  • “the Fortune 500 which are not usually held up as the companies that are on the bleeding edge of things such as social media.”

    I think that says it right there. The gold rush of social media is leveling off for everyone. Now it’s trying to find ways to make it work better and smarter. Bigger companies are just waiting to see what everyone else comes up with.

  • I do find the trend interesting and wonder if it is the ROI or the whole ‘Occupy Wall Street’ thing. My curiosity leads me to wonder how many Fortune 500 companies there are in each category. For example, there are 25 Specialty Retail companies with a Facebook presence – but is that 24 of 25 or 25 of 100 companies. Also, to fully comprehend these numbers it would be useful to know if any of the companies have transitioned off of the list, considering the economy – this very well may be part of what appears to be a decline in the numbers. Maybe, (JUST MAYBE) in 2010 there were 26 Fortune 500 Companies in the category and in 2011 there are only 25? Also, was this count taken at the same time each year? How different January 2010 was different from October 2011?

    I learned a long time ago that figures don’t lie that only liars figure…sooooo, are there answers?

  • The Fortune 500 companies probably have subsidiaries working at lower levels doing social media would be my first thought, my second thought would be they don’t need to, my third thought is most of them don’t advertise in those channels.

    I would be very interested in seeing an oil company doing social media campaign for example – Fortune 500 companies are the top of the tree and some have a less then peachy public image – I doubt they would want to socially engage with the public especially in today’s climate.