Social media articles often focus on how brands are using these channels to engage with consumers, to sell products or provide customer service. But increasingly, companies are realising the powerful impact these channels can have on their corporate reputation, as well as allowing them to communicate with stakeholders ranging from investors to potential employees.
The London Stock Exchange called in a social media monitoring company for the first time in January, after it found itself referred to on social media sites following the Occupy London Stock Exchange protests.
Market traders are also using social media sites as early warning systems and to gather real-time market updates. For example, an article on CNBC's site recently suggested Twitter had become a game-changer for grain traders, allowing agricultural brokers and traders to forgo telephone surveys and instead gather information on planting intentions and yields on Twitter.
Reckitt Benckiser is also embracing these sites as a channel for recruitment and promoting itself as an employer.
To investigate how the largest listed companies in the UK are handling their corporate presence on social media, PRWeek teamed up with The Group, an online corporate comms agency. The agency has been monitoring and ranking FTSE 100 companies on their use of the main social media channels every six months since 2009.
The agency produces the FTSE 100 Social Media Index by ranking the companies on their use of blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for corporate reputation purposes. Their use is measured through a mix of numbers and good practice use. For more details, see the methodology box.
CASE STUDY - CARNIVAL
The cruise company took top position because of its high number of followers, high volume of content and following good practice across the channels. Although this report was conducted before the recent Costa Concordia accident, The Group analysed its social media response to the crisis. So far, Facebook has been the most active channel for discussion of the accident. The Costa site and social media channels have been widely used and the Carnival Cruise Lines social media channels have also played a role, but Carnival's corporate site is not playing a significant role.
CASE STUDY - BP
The oil company has reached the top ten through a combination of a high number of followers and good practice across all three of its channels. BP was the only company that scored full marks for good practice in all channels. The company has focused on its social media comms since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. 'Overall BP's channels look more professional and well designed than most other companies. Its use of apps and customisation also stands out. BP would make a good template for other companies to follow if they were looking to set up or improve their social media presence,' says Cathal Smyth, MD of The Group.
CASE STUDY - Reckitt Benckiser
The company uses social media for graduate recruitment and to promote itself as an employer. It has created a game on Facebook to introduce users to what it would be like to work at the company. To win, players need to use their sales and marketing skills to outperform rivals and become company president. The game provides Reckitt Benckiser with a way of promoting the values it seeks in employees. 'Graduate audiences have grown up with the internet and social media and are more likely to participate in it and to have higher expectations of company comms through these channels,' says The Group report.
THE FTSE 100 SOCIAL MEDIA INDEX
RANK COMPANY SECTOR
1 Carnival Travel & leisure
2 Burberry Group Retail
3 BP Oil & gas
4 Marks & Spencer Retail
5 ARM Holdings Tech, media & telecoms
6 Royal Dutch Shell Oil & gas
7 Reckitt Benckiser Consumer goods
8 Aviva* Insurance
9 Unilever Consumer goods
10 InterContinental Hotels Group* Travel & leisure
11 BAE Systems Industrials
12 WPP Group Tech, media & telecoms
13 Vodafone Tech, media & telecoms
=14 Standard Chartered Bank Banking
=14 BT Group Tech, media & telecoms
16 GlaxoSmithKline Healthcare
17 Pearson Tech, media & telecoms
18 Rio Tinto Group Basic materials
=19 Next Retail
=19 HSBC Banking
21 Barclays* Banking
22 Centrica* Utilities
23 United Utilities Utilities
=24 AstraZeneca Healthcare
=24 Severn Trent Utilities
26 Tesco Retail
27 J Sainsbury Retail
28 Smith & Nephew Healthcare
29 BSkyB Group Tech, media & telecoms
30 G4S Support sector
=30 SABMiller Consumer goods
32 Royal Bank of Scotland Group Banking
=33 International Airlines Group Travel & leisure
=33 Whitbread Travel & leisure
35 Rolls Royce Group Industrials
36 Tullow Oil Oil & gas
37 Essar Energy Oil & gas
38 National Grid Utilities
39 Scottish and Southern Energy Utilities
40 Diageo Consumer goods
The Group uses a combination of absolute numbers (such as number of
followers) and good practice criteria for each channel.
The focus is on accounts that promote the company, not consumer
The Group has set number metrics for each channel - blog posts, Facebook
fans, Twitter followers and tweets and number of video views on YouTube.
It takes a company's individual 'number' score for a channel, and
multiplies this by its 'good practice' score. The companies are ranked
by performance in each channel. Then an average is taken of their
positions to create the final table.
For more details, go to the-group.net/socialmediaindex
Since June 2011, FTSE 100 companies have seen increases of:
- 71% in Twitter followers
- 50% in Facebook fans
- 50% in YouTube views
- 46% in number of blog posts
RELATIVE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS BY SECTOR
Rank Sector % July- % Jan- Change in
Dec 2011 Jun 2011 % points
1 Tech, media & telecoms 81 59 +22
2 Travel & leisure 70 43.3 +26.7
3 Retail 64 57 +7
4 Banking 60 45 +15
5 Utilities 57 50 +7
6 Healthcare 56 56 0
7 Support services 47 29 +18
8 Oil & gas 43 37.5 +5.5
9 Consumer goods 39 36 +3
10 Insurance 39 39 0
OF FTSE 100 FIRMS ...
- 61 have an active Twitter channel (up from 56 in June 2011)
- 53 have an active YouTube channel (up from 44 in June 2011)
- 39 have an active Facebook account (up from 38 in June 2011)
- 16 have a corporate blog (up from 12 in June 2011)