Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Adoption Slow and Steady According to Society for New Communications Research Chair Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes and Eric Mattson of Financial Insite

by Jennifer McClure

The Fortune 500 are farther along in their adoption of public-facing corporate blogs than previous data has suggested. This was the key finding of a new research study, “The Fortune 500 and Blogging: Slow and Steady” conducted by Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., Senior Fellow and Research Chair of the Society for New Communications Research and Chancellor Professor of Marketing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Eric Mattson, CEO of Financial Insite Inc., a Seattle-based research firm.

The new report is the outcome of a statistically-sound study of public-facing blogs among the Fortune 500. The study examined the 2008 Fortune 500 list in an attempt to quantify the adoption of social media by identifying those with public-facing blogs. Barnes has conducted similar studies on the Inc. 500, US colleges and universities, and Fortune magazine’s list of the 200 largest charities. The report conclusively shows that while the Fortune 500 companies are adopting social media at a slower rate than other leading businesses, universities and charities, many more of them are blogging than has been previously reported.

Key Findings include:

  • 81 of the Fortune 500 or 16% currently have public-facing blogs.
  • This compares with 39 percent of the Inc. 500; 41 percent of the higher education sector and 57 percent of the nation’s Top 200 Charities.
  • 28 percent of the Fortune 500’s blogs link to Twitter accounts. (Other Fortune 500 companies have Twitter accounts, but they are not linked to their blogs)
  • Five of the top ten companies have public blogs: Wal-Mart, Chevron, General Motors, Ford, and Bank of America.
  • 90 percent of the Fortune 500’s blogs have the comments feature enabled.
  • The computer software/hardware technology industry has the most blogs, followed by the food and drug industry, financial services, Internet services, semi-conductors, retail and automotive respectively.
  • Ten percent of the Fortune 500’s blogs link to podcasts; 21 percent incorporate video

“It appears that those companies that have made the decision to blog have utilized the tool well. There is frequent posting, ongoing discussion and the ability to follow the conversation easily through RSS or subscriptions,” stated Barnes. “Those F500 companies that have taken the leap into the blogosphere represent all the things that make social media great. They’re diverse in both size and industry, thereby adding a range of new perspectives to the online conversation. They’re enabling their readers to better control and participate in that conversation. And they’re exploring other ways – like videoblogging and podcasting – to communicate with their community.”

“As social media becomes more integral to the business function, we should see evidence of it in the use of blogs, podcasts, Twitter or other tools,” added Mattson. “Given that the Fortune 500 stand as a model for business success, it is interesting to examine their involvement in the social media arena.”

A full copy of the new research report can be downloaded here:

In addition, Dr. Barnes will publish a paper based on the findings in the upcoming issue of the Society for New Communications Research’s Journal of New Communications Research and will present the findings via a web-based briefing and at the Society for New Communications Research’s annual research symposium.