DARTMOUTH – LinkedIn has become the most common social media tool used by companies on Inc. magazine’s 2012 Inc. 500 list, according to a study released by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth on Tuesday.
The school’s Center for Marketing Research’s sixth social media usage tracking study found that 81 percent of companies on the Inc. 500 list were using LinkedIn, surpassing Facebook as the No. 1 platform used for communications and marketing. Facebook and Twitter were both being used by 67 percent of companies on the Inc. list.
In addition to interest in the professional network presented by LinkedIn, companies on the Inc. 500 list – which yearly ranks the fastest-growing enterprises in the country – researchers see continuing changes in marketing approaches in the years to come.
“We are documenting the increased use of newer platforms like Foursquare and Pinterest,” said Nora Ganim Barnes, senior fellow at the center as well as research co-chair of the Society for New Communications Research. “These fast growing companies drive the American economy and set the tone for others. … It will be interesting to watch as they adjust their adoption of social media tools and connect with their peers and their constituents in dramatically new ways.”
At the same time, there seems to be a leveling off of interest in social media use by many of the companies surveyed. For instance, companies that monitor their brands or company names in social media peaked in 2010 at 70 percent, but have declined to 68 and 63 percent in 2011 and 2012, respectively, while those that do not monitor social media for their brands or company names have gone from 28 to 31 to 35 percent in the same time period.
Companies saw significant changes in social media budgeting from 2011 to 2012. Forty-four percent of respondents in 2012 expected to increase their social media spending in the coming year, as opposed to 71 percent the year before. At the same time, 41 percent expected spending to remain the same, versus 25 percent in 2011.
Other findings of the report include:
One-third of the Inc. 500 companies report the ability to determine return on investment for social media expense, with 19 percent of those that can determine ROI reporting that they cut recruiting costs.
Blogging increased in usage by 5 percent from 2011 to 44 percent of companies on the Inc. list, with 63 percent of CEOs reporting that they had contributed content via a blog.
While growth in blogging increased for Fortune 500 companies as well, they lagged the Inc. 500 list bloggers, 28 percent to 44 percent.
Seventy-one percent of respondents either plan to incorporate social media into their marketing/business plans or have standalone social media plans.