Subway, Google, and Target took the top 3 spots on a ranking of 25 global brands for most effectively reaching their customers via social media, according to the 2013 Social Currency Impact Study by Vivaldi Partners.

The new study defines that reach as “social currency,” which comprises six dimensions of behavior: Utility, information, conversation, advocacy, affiliation, and identity. For the ranking, some 5,000 people in three countries (USA, Germany, and the UK) were asked about their perceptions of brands across those six dimensions.

The ranking also incorporated the impact of social media efforts across three levels of conversion: Consideration, purchase, and loyalty.

The top performers in the ranking needed to address almost every dimension of social currency—and drive social buzz, engagement, and large social audiences, Vivaldi said.

Below, the 10 top-ranked brands with analysis, issued by Vivaldi.

  1. Subway (712): Subway took the top spot on the social currency rankings with a score of 712. Initiatives such as "like" the "Flavorizer" emphasize on the customizable nature of Subway's sandwiches and promote brand identity among its 20 million Facebook fans. Subway ranked No. 1 because it performs high on both the six social behavior dimensions of social currency and impact with customers or consumers (consideration, purchase, and loyalty). Subway not only benefits from a large Facebook and Twitter audience but has very high engagement across both channels. Subway continuously manages to sell promoted deals without pushing the advertising theme too far.
  2. Google (709): Launched mid-2011, Google+ boasts 500 million users and is well-embedded into Google's ecosystem. Google leads other tech companies such as Microsoft and Apple in terms of social-audience size, some 21 million. It has more than 5.5 million Twitter followers, more than any other tech firm.
  3. Target (688): Among retailers, Target succeeds because it understands how to attract consumers using a 360-degree presence via numerous channels, creating buzz and awareness for the brand.
  4. Heineken (665): Reaching more than 11 million fans, Heineken continuously creates high visibility for the brand via social media. On Facebook, Heineken reaches more than 11 million fans vs. roughly 3 million for Budweiser.
  5. Verizon (661): Verizon ranks high because of its presence in classical social media channels. The brand ranks No. 3 in terms of its social presence across major social platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and Google+, ahead of all other telecom and tech brands.
  6. Dunkin’ Donuts (661): Dunkin' Donuts started its social media campaigns in late 2008 and was among the first to understand that it does not own its online media channels, but merely moderates them. The brand invested heavily in social media support with dozens of people engaging with customers and tracking responsiveness via social analytics and monitoring tools.
  7. The Home Depot (652) For Home Depot, it is always about being present in the consumer's mind without pushing the brand. The Home Depot tries to get customers to think about home improvements, materials, and renovating ideas. That happens via Facebook quizzes or innovative design ideas on Pinterest to draw the customer back into store. The brand scores high on conversation with customers about relatively narrow topics of interest.
  8. Amazon (649): Amazon has high-quality security measures, excellent shipping methods, and the highest reputation among all online retailers. Though Amazon has high social features implemented on its site that enhances the shopping experience resulting in very high affiliation scores that drives repeat purchases, it has a relatively weak presence on social platforms.
  9. Microsoft (647) In terms of social buzz and audience, Microsoft's presence among consumers is somewhat lagging. However, with its push in the mobile OS (operating system) market and its cooperation with Facebook and Bing, Microsoft integrates across social platforms.
  10. Walmart (646) Walmart's engagement strategy is centered around building local communities that offer shoppers personal and geo-targeted deals as well as information about Walmart stores.

The brands ranking No. 11 to 25 on Vivaldi's 2013 Social Currency ranking were Budweiser at No. 11 with a score of 640, Lowe's at No. 12 with 630, Coca Cola at No. 13 with 620, Gatorade at No. 14 with 616, PlayStation at No. 15 with 608, Corona at No. 16 with 603, eBay at No. 17 with 601, Coors Light at No. 18 with 590, Apple at No. 19 with 587, AT&T at No. 20 with 577, Nintendo at No. 21 with 564, Tesco at No. 22 with 563, MacDonald's at No. 23 with 555, X-box at No. 24 with 549, and Pepsi at No. 25 with 506. 

About the data: For this Social Currency Impact Ranking, Vivaldi administered over 5,000 questionnaires in three different countries (USA, Germany and the UK) using an online panel of millions of consumers conducted in the final quarter of 2012.

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Top Brands With 'Social Currency': Subway, Google, Target

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image of Lenna Garibian
Lenna Garibian is a MarketingProfs research writer and a marketing consultant in the tech industry, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. She's held marketing and research positions at eRPortal Software, GAP Inc., Stanford University, and the IMF. Reach Lenna via Twitter @LennaAnahid and LinkedIn.