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Four in five FTSE 100 companies missing out on LinkedIn opportunities

In our latest study, Social Media in The City, we found that only 20% of the FTSE 100 are actively engaging on the professional social network LinkedIn. The rest, we conclude, are missing out on opportunities to drive word of mouth by engaging its members, who now number over 187 million.

Key findings

  • 96% of the FTSE 100 companies have a corporate presence on LinkedIn with a combined 2.6 million followers and 978,000 employee accounts
  • Yet only 20% appear to be actively engaging via their LinkedIn Company Pages by posting status updates on at least a monthly basis
  • As a result, just 12% are seeing regular engagement with their company pages from LinkedIn members, in the form of like or comments on their status updates over a one-week period
  • We also found that 87.5% of those listing products or services received endorsement and recommendations, and all those who posted status updates in the 30 days to 8 November 2012 saw some form of engagement by LinkedIn members

Analysis

The research, published this month, found that while almost all the FTSE 100 have a corporate presence on LinkedIn, few actively manage it. Less than a quarter of FTSE 100 companies list any of their products and services on their company pages and a mere 13% posted a status update in the 7-day study period. As a result just 12% saw regular engagement by users of the largely business-focussed social network.

However, those companies that do take the time to list products and services and post status updates see high levels of engagement in return. The study shows that the vast majority (87.5%) of those listing products or services received endorsements and recommendations, and all those who posted status updates in the 30 days prior to the study received at least one ‘like’ or comment.

LinkedIn company pages can be created manually by companies but are often created automatically by LinkedIn based on employee accounts. They allow members to stay up to date on company news, products and services, business opportunities and job openings.

In a news release issued today, Josh Graff, director of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions EMEA, said: “With four out of five British professionals on LinkedIn, a Company Page gives businesses a social media presence that counts. Whilst most UK businesses have a company page, as this research highlights, many are not yet making the most of it. I’d encourage them to log on, add their products and services and start actively engaging.”

The FTSE 100 companies – who together attract a combined 2.6 million followers of their LinkedIn company pages – are represented by 978,000 employee accounts on the professional social network.

A new LinkedIn performance metric

To undertake this analysis, we developed a unique performance algorithm for LinkedIn, which measures company pages on three attributes: popularity, activity and engagement. When applied to the FTSE 100, it found that Royal Dutch Shell led the overall ranking and received the highest levels of engagement, although Unilever was the most popular company and Experian was the most active.

With LinkedIn being a business-oriented social network that many companies seem to hold in such high regard, it is extraordinary that so few of the FTSE 100 are using it well. In our view, this lack of engagement represents a lost opportunity and a competitive disadvantage.

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Two thirds of FTSE100 companies failing at social media

We had a feeling all was not well in corporate use of social media…

Our new Social Media in the City report, published today in association with the PRCA, shows that the majority of the FTSE100 are failing to engage effectively with social networks. As a result they may be at a competitive disadvantage by not connecting well with corporate stakeholders. Our research also suggests a link between social media performance and share price movement.

There are some creditably strong FTSE 100 performers, including companies from surprising sectors, but it seems that most still do not regard social media and networks as important for corporate communications. This is despite the fact that social media are used by a variety of stakeholders, by commentators and by mainstream media.

Research highlights and lowlights

  • Our study has found statistically significant correlations between social media performance and subsequent daily share price movement; higher social media performance scores associated with positive changes in share price
  • Two-thirds of FTSE 100 companies perform below average on main social media networks
  • Shell, AstraZeneca and Sainsbury lead new ranking of best-performing companies
  • Best performers come from some surprising sectors, e.g. mining firm Vedanta and computer chip maker ARM Holdings both appear in the top 10
  • The highest performing FTSE sector is pharmaceuticals & biotechnology, followed by oil & gas producers and retailers
  • Only 20% of FTSE 100 companies are actively using LinkedIn company pages to engage

The research was conducted in November this year. We used our quantitative PRINT™ performance measurement system to assess the corporate social media profiles of all FTSE 100 listed companies. Performance scores were derived for each social media network and combined to create an overall Social Performance Index (SPI).

The SPI leadership group is unexpectedly diverse. While the top 20 includes four of the FTSE 100’s six retail companies, this group also includes non-consumer facing brands like mining firm Vedanta, computer chip-manufacturer ARM Holdings and BAE Systems. Only one bank, Barclays, makes the top 20 group.

There are some surprising sector laggards. The Insurance sector as a whole, for example, scores well below the FTSE 100 average and only one company, Aviva, even makes the SPI top 30.

Most FTSE 100 companies (95%) have LinkedIn company pages, attracting a combined 2.6 million followers. However, less than a quarter of the FTSE 100 list any of their products or services on company pages, which are usually not actively managed – only 20% posted a status update in the 30 days prior to the study.

Is social media performance a lead indicator for share price movement?

Previous Sociagility studies have shown similarly close correlations between PRINT™ scores and measures of brand value and growth, as well as market share.

This study shows a statistically significant correlation between the SPI score and market capitalisation. It also shows statistically significant correlations between PRINT™ Receptiveness attribute scores at the beginning of November and share price movements during the rest of the month (r>0.207, N=100, p<0.05), indicating a 95% probability that this is not happening by chance. Higher social media performance scores were associated with positive changes in share price.

Health warning: correlation is NOT the same as causation… However, we think these results are interesting and at least give in-house corporate comms teams a strong argument to get the resources they need to up their game.

Different strategies … or none?

This study suggests that under-performing companies are incurring a reputational disadvantage internationally compared with competitor companies that engage with social media successfully. Yet social media performance really matters for corporate brands: it is a competitive issue and this should be of concern to the whole C-suite, and to investors.

Specific company plans to improve social media performance must of course depend on an individual approach, taking into account a host of factors we cannot know about. We have made no attempt to investigate or understand individual company strategies. But major differences in performance do emerge purely from the data. In some cases these are clearly driven by a deliberate strategy – in others, apparently, by the absence of one.

We understand that, for many corporate communicators in more traditional companies, the #1 priority is brand defence and that social media may seem risky but as Francis Ingham, Director-General of the PRCA says: “It is a far greater risk to let social media policy simply stagnate.”

We’ll be focussing on different aspects of our findings in the coming days. Meanwhile, if you’d like to download a copy of the full report, you can find it at http://www.sociagility.com/ftse.

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R/GA ‘Most Social’ Digital Agency

Some say that in order to credibly advise others about social media, marketing agencies need to be participating first hand. So this week, the Sociagility Social Performance Index looks at the social media performance of 25 leading digital agencies. We’ve compared them all to see which ones are using social media best to engage and interact.

Our findings show that The Interpublic Group’s R/GA tops the social charts with the strongest awareness and engagement scores and an SPI of 455 against the average of 100, driven primarily by its Twitter account. WPP’s AKQA takes second place, with the highest popularity, interaction and trust scores according to our methodology. An honourable mention goes to independent agency Essence, Chime’s VCCP and WPP’s G2 Joshua who deliver above average engagement scores, despite lower than average levels of awareness..

Just six of the 25 agencies included in this study recorded a Social Performance Index (SPI) score above the average, with overall leaders R/GA and AKQA outperforming the rest of the group by a considerable margin. Other leaders include SapientNitro, iProspect and TBG Digital.

Awareness Quotient (AQ) and Engagement Quotient (EQ) scores show that whilst many of these agencies appear to be demonstrating an ability to build popularity, they are less successful when it comes to interacting and engaging with their communities. Only Essence, G2 Joshua and Kitcatt Nohr Digitas show a delta sufficient to suggest that they are punching well above their weight.

Considering the services these agencies provide, one particular surprise is that only two-thirds appear to be using all of the most popular social media channels (with fewer still providing visible links from their home pages).

At the bottom of the table, a number of agencies clearly have some way to go in order to compete effectively with the leaders.

What do you think – are the agencies best at being social always the best at doing social for their clients?

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Ecotricity tops Social Performance Index of energy suppliers

Recent pre-Winter price hikes of over 10% in the UK have put the spotlight on electricity and gas suppliers – and put pressure on their relationships with customers. So for this week’s Sociagility Social Performance Index we have focused on the 26 energy companies serving Britain, according to Which?, comparing them all to see which ones are using social media best to engage and interact.

Our findings show that it’s one of the lesser known brands, Ecotricity, that tops the social charts with the strongest engagement score and an SPI almost five times the average. British Gas commands the highest awareness levels and Scottish Power was the most receptive brand over the week.

Just eight of the 26 companies recorded a Social Performance Index (SPI) score above the average, with overall leaders Ecotricity and British Gas outperforming the rest of the group by a considerable margin. When it comes to Awareness Quotient (AQ) and Engagement Quotient (EQ) scores* however, the two brands show strength in different areas with British Gas having greater awareness (as one might expect) but the lesser known Ecotricity achieving higher engagement.

There is a further contrast a little lower down the ranking. Scottish Power – with a higher EQ than AQ score – is punching above its weight, whereas nPower – with a lower EQ than AQ score – is perhaps relying too heavily on its heavyweight status, with comparatively lower levels of engagement.

At the bottom of the table, a number of brands are struggling to differentiate, despite using all four social media channels analysed. LoCO2 has perhaps the biggest task on its hands if it is to improve its social media performance.

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How Social is the City?

Has ‘the City’, that bastion of British financial institutions, heard about social media yet? Well some parts certainly have. The Bank of England, the Financial Services Authority and the City of London Corporation itself have all embraced social media to at least some degree.

But what of the big companies listed on London’s Stock Exchange?

Anecdotal evidence is that participation is patchy so we thought we would carry out a comparative study of the FTSE-100, the largest UK-listed companies.

Many of these companies own famous and well-promoted consumer and B2B brands but we’re keen to focus on the City/corporate social media profiles (i.e. the owned social media) that serve the entity which is actually listed on the London Stock Exchange.

So, this week we’re contacting all the FTSE-100 companies we can (unfortunately some don’t list any contacts at all on their websites!) to help validate the online profiles we’ll be assessing as part of our biggest comparative analysis of social media performance yet (here are some of the others).

Then next week we’ll start our research and, by the end of November we hope, we’ll publish the results.

If you want to register now for the report, just send an email to [email protected].

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Walmart and Target top Back to School social rankings

In between crunching the numbers for our epic ‘Socialympics’ report, in the last couple of weeks we took a look at how effective the leading US retailers’ social media activity was during the critical ‘Back to School’ period.

MaryLee Sachs, CEO and CMO of our US partner Changing MO LLC, summarised the findings last week. Here’s our take.

Yet again, we find that the most powerful brands (i.e. those with a high combined Popularity and Network Reach score on our PRINT scales) are not performing the best when it comes to engagement (calculated by combining our Receptiveness, Interaction and Trust scores). This seems to be a common trend in almost every analysis we undertake, whether benchmarking clients or conducting our own studies. The chart below shows the delta between the two for each brand.

Digging a bit deeper into the individual PRINT attribute scores, we can see that Receptiveness is where the most powerful brands really fall down. In this case, both Walmart and Target demonstrate a typical profile for brands that isn’t actively listening and participating in line with it’s size or status.

We’ve seen a few reasons for this in previous studies:

  • The more powerful the brand, the less it feels it needs to engage
  • The bigger a brand’s audience, the more likely it will be on the receiving end of negative conversation that it can’t or won’t engage with
  • Smaller, challenger brands see engagement in social media as the equalizer or leveller and thus prioritise these behaviours
  • Larger brands = bigger above the line media spend, which engenders a one-way, broadcast mindset

Now I don’t know the US retail market (or these individual retailers) well enough to comment on which – if indeed any – of these might apply here, but it’s an interesting theme and one we’ll be keeping a close eye on in the future.

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London 2012 ‘Socialympics’ Report [+Infographic]

We’ve just published our report into the London 2012 ‘Socialympics’ and also made available the underlying dataset, which runs to some 43,500 data points.

We reckon this is the longest and most comprehensive study ever undertaken into the comparative performance of key Olympics sponsors in activating their sponsorships through social media and networks. It used our PRINT™ performance measurement system to provide a purely quantitative assessment of sponsor brands’ performance on websites, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube over nearly 5 months from 18 April, 100 days before the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics, to the end of the Paralympics on 9 August.

Key Findings

You can download the full report here, but below is a quick visualisation of the change in rankings from 16 July to 9 September (click to enlarge)…

…and a few highlights:

  • Some brands (e.g. BMW, Cadbury, Cisco and P&G) benefitted from starting early while others (like adidas, British Airways, Coca-Cola, EDF and VISA) concentrated their efforts later on when Olympics fever was at a peak.
  • By contrast, a significant number of brands did not appear to engage with social media at all – or only sporadically.
  • For some, it appeared that social media activation was undertaken in isolation or as an afterthought – or as merely an amplifier for advertising campaigns.
  • Few campaigns seemed to be centred in ‘social’ or had social fully integrated.
  • Some smaller brands outperformed larger ones on the Sociagility PRINT™ rankings by adopting what appeared to be a more proactive policy of engaging in real social dialogue.
  • Ambush strategies by non-sponsors did not appear to generate impact in social media sufficient to compete with sponsors.
  • The brands that led the Sociagility PRINT™ rankings were those that used social media to focus on engagement not just brand awareness.

Results available as Open Data

After tracking 25 brands for 145 days across 4 social networks and 5 dimensions of social media performance, we’ve amassed 43,500 individual data points. In the spirit of Open Data, we are making the data from this study available for anyone to use, reuse and redistribute, subject only to a requirement to attribute and share-alike.

The full data set can also be downloaded from: http://www.sociagility.com/socialympics

No doubt there will be lots of qualitative and anecdotal studies of this year’s Games but we’ve tried to make useful quantitative contribution towards  planning for the next Games and towards a more rigorous approach to planning the social media aspect of sponsorship activation.

Let us know what you think.

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Objective social media metrics for agencies

An example PRINT™ Scorecard

Ever since we launched our PRINT™ methodology about eight months ago, we’ve had requests from agencies – PR, advertising and digital, amongst others – to license our algorithm to them so they could have an easy, low cost way to help plan their social media campaigns for clients – and an objective measure of their success. So today we’re announcing a new set of licensing options to address the specific needs of agencies.

Having made and been on the receiving end of many pitches whilst agency-side, we know some of the challenges only too well: a desire for independent validation; an approach that clients can trust; easy access and fast turnaround; and all at the lowest cost possible!

By licensing the PRINT™ methodology, agencies get access to a simple, comprehensive system to benchmark prospects’ and clients’ social media performance, providing the independent, objective evidence they need to:

  • Make the case for social media strategies and campaigns
  • Take informed decisions when directing limited client budgets
  • Demonstrate the value that their work has delivered

We’ve put together a trio of simple licensing levels – Gold, Silver and Bronze – each with different features and price points, that will allow any agency to start benefitting from the PRINT™ methodology quickly and cost-effectively.

There’s more information here. To enquire about trial access, email us at [email protected] and we’ll be in touch.

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The Final Sprint to London 2012

As we approach the last two weeks before to the London 2012 opening ceremony, marketing activity from the official Olympics sponsors shows no signs of letting up. Quite the reverse, in fact, as new campaigns are announced daily.

It’s a far cry from the situation we faced when we started our social media performance tracking on 18 April, with only a handful of brands having activated their sponsorships using social media – and fewer still having any kind of dedicated presence (we’ve examined the ins and outs of these contrasting strategies before).

Over the course of the last few months, we’ve invited any of the sponsors to inform us about their social media activities so we can ensure the London 2012 Social Scoreboard closely reflects the reality. Some have taken us up on that offer, and we’ve updated our tracker accordingly. But for the final fortnight and throughout the games themselves we thought we’d up the ante and take a more proactive approach.

With that in mind we will be reviewing and, if necessary, updating the websites, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and YouTube channels that contribute to our rankings – for each of the sponsors. Only those profiles with no apparent Olympic-related content anywhere will be excluded from our analysis.

And with less than half the brands previously having a dedicated or designated presence relating to their sponsorship, this will probably result in some interesting changes. So make sure to check the London 2012 Social Scoreboard from Monday 16 July to see how the rankings have altered.

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Our new venture to provide in-house social media talent

Our whole business rationale is based on the belief that in-house capability is crucial to brands’ social media success. So we are delighted to have teamed up with  CloudNine Social Media & Digital Talent (a firm we’ve already been working closely with) to create Sociagility Talent, a recruitment service devoted to providing in-house social media talent.

This is a highly specialised area. Companies need the right people to fit existing roles but also future needs. The key to getting it right is a deep understanding of in-house requirements plus specialist recruitment experience in the digital and social media field.

The venture brings together our (ahem) social media consultancy experience and CloudNine’s expertise as a leading recruiter of social media and digital talent. The  combo will cater for the increased demand for high calibre in-house social media and digital specialists, to meet changing marketing and communications needs.

Social media talent is one of the fastest growing areas of recruitment in the UK. Figures from Altimeter Group show  enterprise-class corporations were to spend an average of £180,000 (approx US$270,000) on social media talent in 2011 compared to £120,000 (US$180,000) in 2010. According to the 2012 Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan Salary Survey, a widely-anticipated restructuring of marketing departments is having an above-average impact on the salaries of digital specialists.

There’s a big difference between the social media talent you find in agencies and that needed to succeed (survive?) in an in-house role. Like us, Steve Ward – who is owner of CloudNine and becomes Head of Talent for the new venture – has found that successful integration and execution of social media by a brand is completely dependent on the calibre of its in-house social media talent, how they build advocacy internally and their ability to manage external agencies. But unlike the agency generalists who work across multiple clients and sectors, in-house specialists need the attitude and aptitude to succeed in a single sector, corporate environment.

Sociagility Talent will immediately tap into both our companies’ existing talent communities, as well as source additional expertise on- and off-line. You can see some of the current positions we’re hiring here and – if you’re looking to hire – we’d be happy to show you how we could help.

We’ll also be represented during Social Media Week London, 13 to 17 February. Our event “Social Media Survival – How To Make it In-House” on Thursday 16 February, 3.30–5.30pm, will see presentations from some leading in-house social media specialists – including Chloe Williams of Boden, Stuart Witts of Marie Curie Cancer Care and Kiera Doherty of BSkyB – as well as an exchange of ideas on in-house challenges and successes, and the announcement of our Community Manager of the Year!

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