FTSE100 companies need to get social media smart

This week our agency Battenhall launched its second annual review of the FTSE100's use of Twitter for PR and corporate communications. We started this research project in April 2013, because of an event that changed the make-up of the brand communications space in the US.

Drew Benvie: Founder of Battenhall
Drew Benvie: Founder of Battenhall

We thought we would begin seeing a ripple effect this side of the pond, and over the past 18 months, with access to this data that we have been gathering, our findings make the impact clear to see.

In April 2013 the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US released new guidance that meant publicly listed companies had to begin declaring which social media channels they were going to be using for communicating official news and information, such as press releases and markets statements. 

Twitter was front and centre, as it's the social network most often used to connect journalists, brands and spokespeople. Very quickly the Fortune500 started getting organised with how they use Twitter, because they had to.

In the UK we saw some stark findings last year. Only 27 companies in the FTSE100 had verified accounts on Twitter, 12 were not using Twitter at all, but worse, eight had never tweeted and a further 19 had not tweeted for a month. UK Plc was not fit for purpose for communicating in the digital age.

This year we have seen the gulf widening between the haves and the have-nots, with big brands streaking ahead, and the laggards stagnating and in some instances even getting worse. 

Top brands this year include Burberry with 3.1 million followers, Tesco with 644,000 tweets posted, and M&S with an influencer score of 83. There are also more verified accounts, up from 27 to 37, fewer Twitterphobes, down from 12 to 10, and fewer dormant accounts, down to 10 from 19 last year.

For PR departments and their representative agencies out there, there is a lot to learn from the brands using Twitter to the max, as it helps social media to go beyond the PR department and into customer care, brand building and tapping into the social media savvy financial market influencers.

I think we may see regulation jump from the US over to the UK soon too, which will certainly help the brands that are lagging behind, and may be no bad thing in our globally connected economy. 

Drew Benvie is the founder of Battenhall

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