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The Social Media Top 10 | Not your usual suspects

2012 | Social Media | Top 10

First of all, I have to come clean. I haven’t really drunk the whole “social media for business” Kool-Aid yet.

It’s not that I don’t “get it.” It’s that I just can’t quite triangulate how all of this smoke and fury is creating solid, measurable business benefits. You know those pesky metrics your VP wants that directly links social media investments to increased sales.

Despite these misgivings, I asked Jeff Gaff (our intrepid benchmarks guru) to insert a boatload of social media metrics into our benchmarks this year. By the time he finished, over 200 pieces of social media content & features were inserted into the benchmark and we were measuring social media behaviors across 15 key areas of a Website.

Here, the thinking was simple.

Every company we track has social media outposts. Twitter, Facebook, and increasingly, the LinkedIn platform. And they spend plenty of time and treasure filling them up with goodness that promotes their strategies and marketing stories.

But here’s the real question: how efficiently do their sites actually connect visitors to these venues? Do they just plop a universal social media panel in their global header or footer and call it good – or do they thread social media behaviors directly into their product, services, industry, and corporate marketing efforts?

To find out, we evaluated 20 leading Websites with an eye on two issues:

  1. Is it easy to find social media assets on the site; and
  2. Once you find them, are they easy to use?

And what did we learn? Five Websites hit the ball out of the park – one gets an atta boy – and everyone else needs to up their social media game.

Here’s three things you should know.

Size doesn’t count. With the exception of Oracle.com (which is the size of mother Russia) the rest of the top five performers — CA.com, EMC.com, Juniper.net, and SAP.com – are all small or medium stance sites. Bottom line: You can learn plenty of social media tricks from small but mighty sites.

2012 | CA.com, Oracle.com, EMC.com and Juniper.net have social media assets that are the easiest to find. Meanwhile, the Symantec.com, Microsoft.com, and Adobe.com's social media could use a hefty dose of sunlight.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. IBM.com and Cisco.com are the perennial eBusiness Index winners year after year. Not when social media is the issue. IBM.com’s Software Group site gives it a footprint in the top five – but Cisco.com doesn’t make the top ten (ranks 12th). HP.com and Dell.com – the other monolithic sites on the eBusiness Index – make the top 10, but miss a Good Practice rating by a country mile.

The guys who should get it — don’t. There’s always plenty of conjecture around the water cooler about whether social media really contributes to an enterprise marketing story — but its role in the consumer and SMB markets is pretty much accepted theory. Thus, you’d think that consumer and SMB powerhouses – like Microsoft.com, Symantec.com, and Adobe.com — would hit the ball out of the park.

2012 | CA.com, Oracle.com, EMC.com and SAP.com's social media links and feeds are the easiest to use. Microsoft.com, Symantec.com, and HP.com make it hard for visitors to be social.You’d be wrong.

When all of the scores are added up, none of these sites cracked the 60 point mark, which puts them well out of Good Practice territory.

But all is not lost. Adobe.com and Microsoft.com did earn two “best of the best” social media slots: Adobe.com for services marketing – and Microsoft.com’s investor relations zone.

So what’s it all about Alfie?

So what should you take away from these new social media rankings? Ignore conventional wisdom. Just because a site is big doesn’t mean it is making the right social media marketing connections. Instead, focus your efforts on a handful of smaller sites that are probably outside of your industry and competitive radars.

And who are they? We’re glad you asked.

2012 | Social Media 10 Best by Category
So here’s my question to you. Why do you think so many big companies miss the social media best practices roster? What do small companies know that they are missing?

Next Steps:

Case Studies about this research:

Read the Case Study The Social Media Top 5 | The 8 secrets to building a best practice social media Website

Read the Case Study Social Media Top 10 | Corporate Marketing | Cisco.com delivers the moment of brilliance & Intel & CA go to the head of the class

Read the Case Study Social Media Top 10 | Product Marketing | CA.com & HP Software get “best of the best” nods & Dell.com aces usability

Read the Case Study Social Media Top 10 | Industry Marketing | CA beats Oracle by a nose & Dell ends up with a usability prize

Read the Case Study Social Media Top 10 | Services Marketing | CA.com and Adobe.com take different paths to the winner’s podium

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I focus on strategy and trends – and how the Web turns business rules on their heads. My job is to identify the Web-related trends and best practices that will change your world over the next 18 months. Where you need to cut through the clutter of conventional wisdom. How to change the competitive rules of the game. More gory details in my profile -- and unvarnished opinions about the sites we evaluate on Google+
  1. Oleg Kupershmidt Reply

    Great insight, thank you for sharing Marty.

    Two things to add:
    – big companies are often simply afraid to engage in a truly open way, particularly where there is less pressure, in B2B space for example.
    – just looking at what your direct competitor does is not going to cut it, most best practices are already broadly employed in other industries such as online gaming for example. It pays to study and borrow from them.

    • Marty Gruhn Reply

      I agree completely Oleg. Too many teams get caught up in a competitive bubble, and unless one of the competitors is an early adopter, they end up way behind the curve. I was actually pretty impressed with the number of B2B sites we evaluated that hit the Good Practice mark — which means social media is gaining real traction. I found Dell.com particularly interesting because it is one of few executing a centralized social media model that stays well away from product marketing areas. It didn’t do much for their scores, but an interesting strategy nonetheless. Marty

  2. the IT Skeptic Reply

    Why would you look on a website to measure social media capability?

    • Marty Gruhn Reply

      Because very smart companies use their Website as a social media “hub” that connects visitors to the outposts that support different marketing and sales goals. Some also use their sites as a social media aggregator, but with much less effect.

      In our POV, if a Website doesn’t have an on-board social media footprint, the company’s social media assets are just so much flotsam floating out in cyberspace. Lots of noise that’s not linked to measurable business results (and BTW: tracking the number of mentions, likes, or shares aren’t business results).

      • Ryan Reply

        I would like to echo the IT Skeptic’s comments. If I have a great set of easy to follow feeds and links on my website that makes me “good” at social media? I’d love to see this study take a more blended approach measuring social engagement seen on the social channels themselves tied back to homepage referral traffic tied to sales.

        • Kenna Dian Reply

          Certainly all companies are looking for the holy grail of social media metrics that link social networks back to sales revenue. But those metrics are largely for internal eyes only so they are hard to come by. I would also guess that if we did have them, they would vary wildly based on issues such as level of dedication, staffing availability, and budgetary constraints. What the findings in this blog shows is how many companies that are participating in social media are lax (or reluctant) in creating a solid presence on their sites that would drive engagement on the social networks. In short, they are laser focused on the egg and what it may produce, and forgetting about caring for the chicken.

  3. John Rosato Reply

    Hi Marty, have you seen our new social aggregation site for top level .com…I think this start to help us connect ibm to its outposts and engages the customer in a new way….check it out….

    http://www.ibm.com/voices

    • Marty Gruhn Reply

      Hi John. Thanks for the heads up on the new page. Very nice out of the box thinking here — and the search and trending interaction are works of art. I’m seeing a best practice case study here! Marty

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