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How Inc. 500 Companies Use Social Media: Top Platforms, Benefits, and Challenges

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Some 71% of Inc. 500 companies now have a written social media plan, according to recent research conducted by Nora Ganim Barnes, PhD, and Caroline Daubitz of the Center for Marketing Research, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

The report was based on data from an analysis conducted in 2016 of the social media accounts of the Inc. 500 (the fastest-growing privately owned companies in the United States) as well as a survey of 128 executives who work for Inc. 500 companies.

Half of Inc. 500 companies said they have a social media plan incorporated into their overall marketing/business plan, and 21% said they have a standalone social media plan.

Some 94% of Inc. 500 companies have accounts on LinkedIn, 88% are on Facebook, and 79% are on Twitter, according to the respondents.

Instagram adoption by Inc. 500 companies jumped from 32% in 2015 to 46% in 2016.


Some 94% of Inc. 500 executives surveyed said social media is effective in building brand awareness, and 85% said it helps forge stronger relationships with customers.

Some 59% of Inc. 500 executives surveyed said they are concerned about how to measure the ROI of social media; 52% said they worry about the resources required to maintain social media accounts.

About the research: The research was based on data from an analysis conducted in 2016 of the social media accounts of the Inc. 500 (the fastest-growing, privately owned companies in the United States) as well as a survey of 128 executives who work for Inc. 500 companies.


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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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  • by Christine P Wed Mar 1, 2017 via web

    Thank you for the interesting data ,Ayaz
    It becomes clear that the social media plays a huge role in the corporation's marketing.As per one of the analyses published on Customerso, the expected return of the investment ROI in the social media is expected to go to over 70 percent by 2019.Of course the time and the recources spent tfor the social media will increase too.

  • by Peter Altschuler Wed Mar 1, 2017 via web

    These statistics beg so many questions because the Inc. 500 represents so many industry segments. For example, how are the numbers different for B2B firms? How do they shift based on industry? If a company sells primarily to government, do they use social media at all?

    Without those specifics, it's hard to consider the survey truly useful or informative.

  • by Sofie W. Thu Mar 2, 2017 via web

    Thansk for the interesting research Ayaz!

    It's interesting to see what social media networks the Inc. 500 Companies use, their "accomplishments" and challenges... I agree with Peter, is this information available per industry?

    If I may: it's interesting to compare this information with a research we did for the Top 50 agencies in Germany. For example, LinkedIn and XING were the top 2 platforms used with 96%, 94% are on Facebook and 82% are on Google+. If you are interested to read more, check it out here: https://www.webzunder.com/en/do-agencies-walk-the-social-media-talk-a-socia...

    Cheers! :-)

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