US companies outshine British for social media

Feb 03, 2015
<p>American firms publish more and get more engagement in return, argues new Investis report</p>

UK companies could learn a lot from their US peers about the most effective way to use social media for corporate communications, according to new research from Investis.

The study, which reviews the practices of 500 companies, argues that US firms do a better job in areas such as engagement, content mix, use of different channels and design.

For example, the average US company posts updates to LinkedIn 15 times a month, three times more often than its UK counterparts. On Twitter, 84 percent of US companies have a corporate account, compared with 56 percent in the UK.

In addition, the average American firm has many more followers on social media – including 10 times as many on Twitter. This is down to the higher frequency of updates, but also the fact that US companies tend to be larger and have run their accounts for longer, notes the report.

‘It’s fairly obvious, but the more you put into it the more you are going to get out,’ says Marcus Fergusson, research director at Investis, a provider of corporate websites and other digital communications tools.

US companies have recognized the value in having broad accounts that feature a mix of marketing and corporate content, explains Fergusson. ‘Rather than silo this content, and saying here is my IR Twitter account and here is my CSR Twitter account, you have a global corporate account and you put out as much content as possible,’ he says. ‘By having that high volume of varied corporate content, you pick up that much bigger audience and get that much more engagement.’

If companies have the resources and ability, there is no harm in having a dedicated IR social media account, adds Fergusson, but that content should be posted on the main account as well. ‘You may find most people are just following the global corporate account,’ he says.

One area where UK companies score highly is in posting IR content – defined as information specifically of interest to investors, like news about financial results – to Twitter. Of the British firms analyzed, 70 percent do this, slightly more than in the US.

This shows UK companies view Twitter as a safe channel for IR content, says Fergusson. ‘It seems to be that UK companies are playing it safe,’ he comments. ‘They are not as competent at using social media as US companies. They haven’t been doing it for so long and I think they see Twitter as a safer channel than some of the other networks, which seem to be unknown quantities for them.’

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