London, Monday 2 February 2015: UK companies lag far behind their US peers in their use of social media for corporate communications, according to the most comprehensive review to date. The review was conducted by Investis, the international leader in digital corporate communications.

 

The Investis IQ review analysed more than 500 leading US and UK companies to score their use of eight social media channels, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. A team of researchers assessed more than 250,000 data points to rank companies across a number of areas including the range of content that they publish, their success in attracting an audience and their engagement with their followers.

 

Key findings included:

  • UK companies are making much less effective use of social media than their US counterparts and are failing to get as many users to engage with them.
  • US companies are far more active and engaged, often scoring at least three times as highly on key metrics. For example, the median US company with a Twitter account used for corporate communications has tweeted 2,979 times whereas the UK median is only 738. On LinkedIn, the median US company posts updates 15 times a month, three times as often as the equivalent company in the UK. US companies have an average of 141 videos on their YouTube channels; the UK median is 45. Similarly, the median US Twitter account has more than 20,000 followers, or nearly ten times the UK average. The gap on Facebook, as measured by likes, is even greater: a median of 45,111 for US companies but only 1,177 in the UK.
  • Sectors that have faced reputational challenges, such as the oil majors and the banks, are making a notable effort with social media. BP comes out top globally for its use of LinkedIn where it posts a wide range of corporate and careers content, including employee testimonials and current job openings. Banking was the second highest-scoring sector overall with Oil and Gas coming in at number eight.  Construction (23rd) and Basic Resources (24th) are among the lowest-scoring sectors.
  • The smaller companies that make up the FTSE 250 are typically making limited use of social media to date, and many score poorly. Only 32% of FTSE 250 companies have a YouTube account used for corporate communications and only 26% have a Facebook account for this purpose. Twitter has been more widely adopted but less than half of the FTSE 250 have a corporate Twitter account, compared with 72% of the FTSE 100. In the US, every member of the Dow Jones index has a corporate presence on Twitter.
  • LinkedIn is the most popular social media channel, with 93% of all companies actively maintaining a LinkedIn account for corporate purposes. The next most popular channel is Twitter, where 67% of companies use a Twitter account for corporate purposes.
  • There is a notable regional variation in terms of how channels are used.  For example, UK companies are more likely to publish investor relations content on Twitter than US companies. US companies tend to use Facebook most for media content while UK companies prefer to use Facebook for corporate social responsibility (CSR) and careers content.
  • WS Atkins is a notable exception among the FTSE 250; it came 26th overall with a score of 72%. Under one measure of confident social media use – the linking between its corporate website and its social media account – Atkins is among the best in the world, scoring better than any other UK company with the exception of Shell.
  • The highest-scoring company across all eight channels was Cisco Systems, with 86%. The leading UK listed companies were Royal Dutch Shell (fourth globally, 81%) and BP (tenth globally, 76%). Other technology companies including HP and Symantec also score highly, helping to make technology the best-performing sector.
  • Other notable UK examples of best practice include Pearson, which scored 97% for design; J Sainsbury, the UK company that makes the best use of Flickr; and Balfour Beatty and IHG, which both scored 79% for their use of Pinterest.

Whilst 94% of companies in the review now have some presence on social media, the review shows there is a wide disparity between those who regularly post engaging content across a variety of channels and those who post infrequently and see social media as a one way street to be used at their convenience.

 

The review reveals that corporate content is an important driver of social media engagement, even on accounts that are primarily used for marketing purposes.  Companies also attract significantly more followers and receive more and better interaction if they reply to user comments, post regularly and vary the content of their posts.

 

Marcus Fergusson, research director at Investis, said: “This is the most comprehensive review of the use of social media for corporate communications that has ever been conducted. The big surprise is the difference in approach between American and British companies. Too many FTSE 350 companies are failing to post content regularly and they are not posting a broad enough range of content. As a result, UK companies are failing to engage their audience with the same success as US companies. Social media is now an integral part of the corporate communications mix and corporate content drives social media engagement.” 

 

Top 25 performers from the Investis IQ Review across all channels

  Company Sector Index Score
1 Cisco Systems Technology Dow Jones / S&P 100 / NASDAQ 100 85.82
2 Hewlett Packard Technology S&P 100 / NYSE US 100 82.17
3 Citrix Systems Telecommunications NASDAQ 100 80.97
4 Royal Dutch Shell Oil & Gas FTSE 100 80.63
5 CA Technologies Technology NASDAQ 100 78.46
6 Symantec Technology NASDAQ 100 76.07
7 Automatic Data Processing Technology NASDAQ 100 76.04
8 Cognizant Technology Solutions Technology NASDAQ 100 75.71
9 NetApp Technology NASDAQ 100 75.66
10 BP Oil & Gas FTSE 100 75.50
11 Adobe Systems Technology NASDAQ 100 75.35
12 IBM Technology Dow Jones / S&P 100 / NYSE US 100 75.06
13 NVIDIA Technology NASDAQ 100 75.03
14 General Electric General Industrials Dow Jones / S&P 100 / NYSE US 100 74.94
15 Anglo American Basic Resources FTSE 100 74.93
16 Pearson Media FTSE 100 74.90
17 Accenture Support Services S&P 100 / NYSE US 100 74.63
18 eBay Technology S&P 100 / NASDAQ 100 74.40
19 Qualcomm Telecommunications S&P 100 / NASDAQ 100 74.20
20 Oracle Technology S&P 100 73.96
21 UPS Support Services S&P 100 / NYSE US 100 73.04
22 Ford Motor Co Automobiles & Parts S&P 100 / NYSE US 100 72.63
23 Akamai Technologies Technology NASDAQ 100 72.18
24 Wal-Mart Stores Retail Dow Jones / S&P 100 / NYSE US 100 72.18
25 SanDisk Technology NASDAQ 100 72.12

For further information please contact:

Investis: Marcus Fergusson / Sheryl Joyce.

Tel: +44 20 7038 9000

Powerscourt: Paul Durman (paul.durman@powerscourt-group.com) / Simon Compton (simon.compton@powerscourt-group.com)

Tel: +44 20 7250 1446

 

About Investis 

Investis is an international digital corporate communications and investor relations company, which works with approximately 2,000 clients from offices in five countries. The companies it serves include more than 70% of the constituents of the FTSE 100 and more than 150 US clients. Founded in 2000, Investis helps clients manage their corporate communications and investor relations through corporate websites, IR webhosting, social media, apps & mobile, video and webcasting, website tools and online reporting.

 

For more information, please visit the Investis website: www.investis.com

 

Methodology

 

The Investis IQ review of the use of social media for corporate communications is, we believe, the most extensive piece of such work undertaken to date.

 

Investis IQ measures companies’ use of social media for corporate communications across eight channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Flickr, SlideShare and Pinterest. Our researchers award companies a score for each channel according to how effective and sophisticated is their use of social media.

 

The scoring system was devised to reflect the different characteristics of each channel. However, we score each channel under six headings: engagement, reception, range of content, design, multiplicity of accounts and linking to and from the corporate website. In total, Investis IQ has scored more than 250,000 separate data points. Most of the available points are awarded for objective criteria reflecting the ways in which companies use social media. We have focused primarily on corporate communications content

 

By rigorous application of this scoring system, we are able to compare companies, sectors and markets for each individual channel.

 

We also produce an overall rating which reflects our judgment of the importance of the various channels. For example, LinkedIn and Twitter are accorded a greater weighting than Flickr and Pinterest.