Fortune 500 Companies Are Embracing Social Media

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Fortune 500 companies are not known for supporting revolutions, but when it comes to social media, change is in the air.

Despite the lack of clarity around social media’s ROI, the biggest and brightest companies are flocking to hire droves of social media and digital marketing experts and to get into the social game.

When it comes to incorporating a professional social media strategy, small businesses have been ahead of the curve. In a study done by UMass Dartmouth, research showed that 37% of “Inc. 500” firms (small businesses) have implemented outward facing company blogs, whereas their Fortune 500 counterparts weigh in at only a 28% participation rate. The likely reason for this resistance to social media is the risk averse nature of large companies with high stake brands. Larger companies tend to be slow moving leviathans that, more often than not, wait until a particular trend has been tested by time before putting their money behind it. Social media has been no exception. However, Fortune 500 firms have started to realize that they will be left behind if they stay out of the social media game, and that there is a serious ROI to be gained.

Among the Fortune 500, leaders have emerged. The best social media campaigns have helped change the direction of an industry whereas others have brought excitement and innovation to an old business model.

By The Numbers


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In 2012, Fortune 500 companies saw a 5% bump in blogging, hitting 28% overall. Twitter has been the most popular platform for big firms, with 73% of companies posting actively (at least once a month) to their accounts. Facebook, with 66% of Fortune 500s onboard, has been trying to make itself more business friendly in recent months, introducing additional features for Pages, with an emphasis on paid advertising and more comprehensive metrics and reporting. To round out another core platform, YouTube has 62% of Fortune 500s posting video content for their audiences.

The Best & Brightest

As a subset of their “2013 Companies to Work For,” CNN’s “Money” blog gleaned a list of the Top 9 Social Media Superstars. These companies include: Capital One, Mayo Clinic, Mercedes Benz, Marriott International, Google, SAS Software, Intuit, NetApp, and Novo Nordisk. Each of these companies are on the cutting edge of corporate social media both inside and outside company walls. Their commitment to adopting innovative strategies has allowed them to become leaders of social media in their respective industry and created unique opportunities for growth and brand expansion. A pattern is emerging where the same companies that are ranked “best to work for” are also embracing revolutionary social media strategies and reinventing what it means to be a Fortune 500.

How are large companies using social media?

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Although external social media campaigns for companies are more talked about, the implementation of internal social media technology should be a big part of the discussion. Utilizing the benefits of both internal and external social media products is critical for a company to remain nimble, innovative, relevant and productive. Below we will evaluate two case studies: one use of internal social media and one of a creative use of an external social media campaign. Of course the bottom line is always the long term play, companies are realizing that in most cases social media is necessary in order to stay relevant even if there is not an immediate goal in sight.

Social Media Internalized: Capital One’s “Pulse”

Many companies have some level of internal social media or internal communication technology available to employees, but not many put serious thought into the matter. In some cases this takes the form of a stagnant staff portal that is used by one or two people that in reality lacks the functionality to really be a successful tool. The value proposition for companies is to create a place for Knowledge Sharing among employees. Whether its project collaboration, company insights, an information repository, or more efficient communication, a social media based platform is the cutting edge for corporate innovation.

Capital One, a leading financial institution, has created an internal social media platform called “Pulse” with similar functionality to Facebook. The product, which is available company wide, has been a popular place for collaboration among employees. Additionally, the platform has become a hub for Capital One’s wiki information pages. For a large company like Capital One, where employees are often not within close physical proximity, a tool like this can be a game changer that can break down barriers and increase innovation and productivity.

As part of a larger commitment to social media, Capital One invited all of its employees to participate in a one day social media seminar with speakers from Google and Facebook. The seminar focused in on how employees can benefit from social media for both personal and professional use and was attended by over 500 employees.

Mayo Clinic: Revolutionizing the Health Care Industry Through Social Media


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The Mayo Clinic has long been a leader in the health care industry through their exceptional treatment, research and ability to bring innovative and cutting edge products to market quickly. In 2010, Mayo Clinic stared the Center for Social Media with a direct mission to use social media to promote health, fight disease and improve health care. The Center for Social Media has quickly become the leading global hub for social media and health care, and provides information and resources for other organizations in the health care industry to effectively advance their operation through the use of social media tools.

Mayo Clinic’s YouTube channel, which has over 8.5 million views, serves a wide range of uses from videos on new research and treatment, to surgery preparation outlines for patients. In addition, their innovative use of Twitter and Facebook as a forum for key issues facing health care organizations as well as for patients to ask basic questions has provided a low cost frontier for increasing the capacity and pipeline of the health care industry.

It’s tough to put a price tag on being a global leader in the health care industry, but, as social media becomes a more synonymous with knowledge sharing, Mayo Clinic will stand at the top of the heap.

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Social Media For All

We believe in customized social media strategies for all companies, regardless of size, industry or mission. If you are in the dark on how your business can introduce social media and take your brand to the next level, we offer honest to goodness free consultations regardless of whether you planning to work with us. Helping companies get in touch with their digital side is something that makes us better at what we do. So please contact us to chat about your unique needs.

Posted in Online Strategy, Social Media