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Survey of Inc. 500: Fastest growing companies adopt blogging, podcasting and other social media as business tools

Two out of three companies consider social media to play significant strategic role

The fastest-growing companies in the United States are making significant use of social network sites, blogs, podcasts and other social media tools, according to a recent study of the Inc. 500 by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

"Until now, there has only been speculation about the use of blogging and other forms of social media by businesses with some even predicting its demise," said Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, director of the center and chancellor professor of marketing, who led the study with Eric Mattson, a blog researcher. "This study shows definitively that the Inc. 500 are thoroughly involved in social media at an adoption rate more than twice that of the Fortune 500."

Two out of three of the Inc. 500 companies cited social media as playing a "very important" or "somewhat important" role in their business/marketing strategies. Twenty-six percent deemed it "very important," while 40% ranked it "somewhat important."

The social media most familiar to the Inc. 500 is social networking (MySpace, Facebook, etc.) with 42% of respondents claiming to be "very familiar with it." Other results showed 38% "very familiar" with message/bulletin boards, 36% with blogging, 31% with online video, 30% with podcasting and 16% with wikis.

Participants were also asked about their usage of various social media. Thirty-three percent of the companies use message/bulletin boards, while social networking was a resource for 27%. Ganim Barnes noted that even the least familiar media -- wikis -- had a 17% adoption rate by the businesses.

"The responses are surprising and will likely shock even the most fervent believer in social media," Ganim Barnes said. "They indicate that corporate familiarity and usage of social media is racing far ahead of what many have predicted."

Barnes' most recent research was conducted to determine if there was a difference in knowledge and usage of social media in companies selected by growth rate rather than revenue. Previous research showed only 8% of the Fortune 500 currently having a public blog.

Nearly one quarter, or 121, of the Inc. 500 participated in the study, making the data statistically valid with a margin of error at +/-3%. Respondents were diverse in size, industry and location. They included four of the top 10, seven of the top 25 and 22 of the top 100 companies on the list.

For more information on this study, visit or call (508) 999-8756.

Author:  "John Hoey"
Date:  24-Jan-2007
Department:   Center for Marketing Research

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