How do the most innovative companies of the world use social networks? How many of them are present on Twitter and how many can be found on Facebook?
Although the combustion engine automobile was invented by Gottlieb Daimler and not Henry Ford, it was the latter who earned an indisputable place in the history of the car industry. Ford had a capacity to see an innovation and use a business opportunity – he knew how to sell an idea to the customers. He wanted to approach masses by bringing affordable cars to everyone. A century later, Steve Jobs came with quite the opposite strategy. He and Apple focused on producing and developing cutting edge technology with the perfect design for a narrow group of customers consisting of those, who “think different”. Nowadays his vision took on another direction and it seems that it is now the majority, that is “thinking different”.
Google, biotechnology and electronic fashion shops
Both Apple and Ford can still be found among the top 50 innovative companies in the world, a list published every year by the Fast Company magazine. Each position is accompanied by a justification (p.e. 11th place goes to Google for adding fibre into our Interned diets). Bigger half of the list is represented by more or less famous high tech companies – companies operating in biotechnology, IT, robotics, telecommunications, computer manufactures and manufactures of electronics. Other fields with a substantial representation include consumer’s goods and (!) online shops with fashion and accessories. The last field may not seem to be the extra innovative, however its presence in the list is more than visible.
On the other hand, both Facebook and Twitter are missing. “Both companies have turned their focus away from users and toward shareholders to get bigger, not better,” thus did the authors explain the absence of both companies in the list. “Revenue is great, but not at the expense of the product.”
Twitter is used by all, Google+ by less than a half
Is there a link between how innovative a company is and how it uses social networks? That is the question I tried to find the answer to in the following analysis. (There are actually 65 companies within the top 50 innovative list – some of the categories include a few firms. That’s why is the number 65 used in the following text.)
The analysis of how the top 65 innovative companies are using corporate social networks concentrated on the most frequently used five – Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and Youtube. The following list is numbered according to how many companies from the analyzed list are using the network.
As you can see from the enclosed chart, almost all of the researched companies have a Twitter account (97%). The only two exceptions are the biggest Chinese internet portal Tencent that has its own microblog platform Tencent Weibo and also from China a manufacturer of dry toilettes called Landwasher. The highest number of followers belongs to media companies (NBA) and IT companies (Google). The biggest number of Tweets (more than 230 thousand) was published by Safaricom, a telecommunication carrier from Kenya.
If you were surprised by the fact that Facebook is not the most used among the five social networks, here is another surprise for you – it is not even the second one. The silver medal goes to LinkedIn. There are almost as many companies (95%) with a profile on the biggest professional social network as there are companies with a Twitter account. At the beginning of June 2013 more than 634 thousand employees stated that they are employed by one of 62 of the most innovative companies and they have almost 6 million followers.
Most present at LinkedIn are the IT giants (Google, Microsoft and Apple). Both these companies plus Google have the highest number of followers.
Facebook is the third of the social media used by the most innovative companies. Nine out of ten (91%) researched companies have a profile there. It is not a surprise that the most “likes” are awarded to consumer goods companies (The Coca-Cola Company) and entertainment businesses (Rovio from Finland and its Angry Birds).
The fourth position is taken by Youtube – almost three quarters of analyzed companies use it as a marketing communication channel (72%). And who has the highest number of videos watched? Again, its the media representatives that take the lead (NBA) together with entertainment businesses (Rovio) with more than a billion of videos watched.
If we look at the data from the beginning of this August, we see that Google+ is indeed the first in the five selected social media – but only if we look from the end. More than a half of researched companies (52%) have an account there. The Google company does not have to be too sad, however, since it is the only one of the five social networks that actually has a place in the Fast Company list. They got an eleventh place and the number of its fans is growing not only within the competing social media.
Experiment. Nobody will do that for you.
With the ever higher Internet penetration and level of using various social media, to own a profile on one of the social networks is a necessary albeit not sufficient condition. Having a profile does not necessarily mean being successful in promoting and selling innovations or innovated products or services.
In certain segment, the social media can be used as a source of new ideas or for getting feedback from testing concepts and prototypes. Nevertheless, we do have to bear in mind that most of the population does not like to experiment much, but people will undoubtedly enjoy a funny video where somebody else is trying out a novelty and will share it with their social circle. On other occasions you only need a picture of Mark Zuckerberg walking in Prague or a mystery photo of the Google co-founder Sergey Brin testing the Google Glass in the NYC subway. By the way, if you have already seen the Google Glass picture somewhere on the Internet, would you buy it for approx $300? And if not, would you be persuaded to buy the glasses were they recommended by your social media friends?
To create, promote and sell innovations is a kind of art and not all of us can be artists like Henry Ford or Steve Jobs. Everybody can try, though, and the social media offer a chance for that.