Social Media in the Inc 500

Between 2007 and 2008, there was a dramatic increase in the use of social media by Inc. 500 firms. That statement raises a lot of questions. Here are some of them, with a few answers thrown in.

  • How do we know this? We can read about the research at the UMass Dartmouth web site, which is where Prof Nora Garim Barnes, one of the researchers, is based. There are also posts about the study at ReadWriteWeb and elsewhere.
  • What is the Inc. 500? It’s an annual list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the US. So it contrasts with the Fortune 500, which comprises the largest public US companies.
  • Does the study report link from social media adoption to performance? No (and the study is IMHO interesting without such a link, which is just as well since it would be hideously difficult to test for).
  • What does it mean by social media anyway? And which of those media are being more widely adopted? That brings us to graph time.

Since we’re focusing on growth here, we might note that the fast-growing social medium is blogging, adoption of which more than doubled in the course of the year. It didn’t grow much faster than, say, social networking, but it’s interesting to see that good “old” blogging is seeing a lot of new adoption. We might also note that BB/message board use grew, even as BBs were overtaken by three other media in terms of adoption.

The reports I’ve seen so far raise many more questions. I look forward to more detailed accounts of the research.

Business Week Changes Its Blog Article

A Business Week cover story in May 2005 argued that “blogs will change your business.” This week, authors Stephen Baker and Heather Green took the interesting step of annotating the article with updates.

For example, the 2005 article remarked that: “Six Apart, a four-year-old San Francisco company, leads in blog software.” A 2008 annotation adds that: “We also should have mentioned WordPress, a highly influential open-source blog platform.”

The article has a new title: Social Media Will Change Your Business. The last three years have seen the rise of Facebook, Twitter, etc.

It’s interesting to see Business Week using the web to update a much-downloaded and frequently-linked article from a few years ago. Good for BW, and for Stephen and Heather, for having the nerve to admit the ways in which the original article has dated. To say that it’s dated isn’t to look down on it. In 2005, I didn’t see Twitter coming (although I would have mentioned WordPress).