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July 24, 2017

Why Most Fortune 500 Brands Use Only 3 Social Media Channels

To achieve greater business success, entrepreneurs often emulate the business practices of Fortune 500 companies. It makes sense — why not try to implement the strategies that work for some of the world’s most successful businesses?

Those interested in keeping up with modern trends among Fortune 500 companies have probably taken notice of the growing use of social networks.

The Decline of Public-Facing Blogs: What Happened?

Once upon a time, blogs were one of the most popular ways for Fortune 500 companies to reach out to their clients and customers. That ‘once upon a time,’ however, fades further into the distance with every passing year — they peaked in popularity around 2013 and have steadily declined since.

MarketingProfs recently reported that blogs have become steadily less popular methods for corporate engagement over the last few years. What killed the public-facing corporate blog — what caused them to grow largely out of favor among Fortune 500 companies?

There were a few problems with the blog model. For the now slightly less than one-third of the Fortune 500 companies that still use blogs, blog maintenance entails a few struggles:

  • Blogs must be updated regularly with fresh content, as opposed to social networks, which often provide tools to “drip post” content at a steady rate.
  • Active blogs are expected to take and respond to comments, which takes time away from social media posts and other important marketing strategies.

Paying the Cost to Be the Boss (Of Social Networks)

Social platforms (especially the most successful ones) just don’t work the way they used to: whereas free posts used to reach a wide audience, algorithms have now prioritized sponsored content and content that individual users will likely respond to.

For companies, Fortune 500 or not, these algorithm changes have made it harder for a wide audience to see all of your posts — unless you’re willing to pay a little extra money for extra engagement. In essence, social media posts have become a lot like traditional advertising — it costs money; it was only a matter of time before it happened.

The problem isn’t only engagement levels — poor social media performance can affect search engine rankings as well. Now that your number of followers can influence Google’s SERP results, companies have decided to pour their efforts only into the platforms that represent strong SEO strategy.

For more on the ever-changing landscape of online corporate strategies, we heartily recommend INC.’s recent piece that examines the online social platform skills your business needs to thrive in 2017.

Being Choosier with Social Networks

Now that it costs money to reach a wide audience, many companies have decided to pare down their efforts to just a few networks, whereas they may have tried to maintain upward of six or seven only a few years ago.

The reason is simple: although a scrappy young startup shows up every once in awhile to challenge the most popular social networks, in general, the wars have been fought and the victorious platforms have been decided. Many have proven to be “flash in the pan” fads — consider the meteoric rise and quicker fall of Vine.

To put it bluntly, there’s not enough time (or resources) to maintain a presence on every platform that pops up. In fact, these days most companies only find it necessary to regularly use about three social platforms. Which three they choose to utilize depends on two main factors:

  • Which platform best allows the company to share their message and create brand awareness?
  • What social network do the majority of their prospective customers use?

What Social Networks Are They Using?

Let’s look at some of the statistics regarding what social networks Fortune 500 companies are using the most regularly (statistics provided by Fortune). Keep in mind that there is a lot of crossover but, by and large, most companies are using a combination of three of the following networks:

• 83 percent of the companies in Fortune’s 500 List operate a corporate Twitter account (active within the past month). This represents a six percent increase since 2013.

• Following only shortly behind, 80 percent of these companies have a regularly updated Facebook account. All of the top 10 companies have their own corporate Facebook page as well.

• Surprisingly 67 percent of these companies also have their own YouTube channel. Though this is a slight decrease from the previous year, it’s important to note that each and every one of the top 10 companies have their own YouTube channels.

• As for LinkedIn, it would be significantly easier to tell you the handful of companies that don’t maintain some kind of corporate presence on this now-ubiquitous platform. Ninty-seven percent of Fortune 500 companies maintain at least some presence on this business social network behemoth.

New Marketing Strategies: Driving the Change

One of the primary factors driving this shift towards social networks is an increasingly popular marketing strategy: “influencer” marketing.

The idea behind “influencer” marketing is simple– companies find and pay a like-minded user to create specialized, sponsored content. This recent trend spurs greater social engagement because it feels more personal than traditional advertisements; it’s almost as though the influencer is “introducing you” to their followers.

Another option for companies who don’t want to hire outside SEO or “influencer” help is to offer small incentives for your already-existing employees to share positive brand messages on their personal social network pages. This should be carefully monitored, however, to make sure that an employee’s non work-related posts don’t work at any cross-purposes or shine any kind of negative light on your brand.

Still, it’s an excellent option for companies who want to tap into the awesome potential of social networks without spending extra money for increased engagements. Employees will likely expect some form of compensation, but if you’re creative, you can likely work out a way to offer them less than you’d pay an “influencer” to create tailored sponsored content for your brand.


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Tina Williams is a digital marketing strategist and is responsible for the successful management of digital strategy for client brands based on consumer insight and data. She is an innovative and progressive thinker who can connect digital to all other aspects of a client business and drive growth opportunities. Tina possesses a keen insight into consumer behavior. She plays a vital role in promoting the integration of cross-functional teams. With superior communication skills, both internal and client-facing, she works like a fire-brand to identify prospective growth and incremental opportunities with client partners.

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