77 percent of the US fastest-growing companies use social media

Looks like the social media is coming to the US business world sooner than many had originally anticipated and it is the valuable sign for the European entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations. The “masternewmedia.org” reports about the staggering results of a study of social media adoption at 500 of the fastest growing companies in the US. The use of blogs, podcasting, wikis, online video and social networking grew in 2008 to nearly double what it was in 2007 – 77% of respondents now report at least some use of a social media tool in their business.

In early 2007 the results of a groundbreaking study into the adoption of social media within the Inc. 500, an elite group of the fastest-growing companies within the United States, were released.

Now, approximately one year later, that same group was studied again in an effort to look at longitudinal change in the adoption of these digital communication tools.

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research performed the study for Inc. Magazine and their findings confirm what previous studies have argued as well: social media use is now a major, mainstream activity.

Research Respondents

The respondents in this study, as in the first study, are diverse in industry, size and location. They include three of the top 10, 11 of the top 25, and 44 of the top 100 companies from the Inc. 500 list.

The 209 companies who responded were asked the same detailed questions concerning their usage and measurement of social media that were asked of the Inc. 500 approximately one year earlier.

Forty-two percent (209) of the Inc. 500 participated, making the new research statistically valid at +/- 5%. The original study was also statistically valid.

Study Questions Used

Questions probed the familiarity of respondents with six prominent social media (blogging, podcasting, online video, social networking and wikis).

In order to maintain the integrity of all comparisons, only those tools studied in the first study were included in this follow-up research.

Social Media Familiarity in the Business World

To begin, respondents were asked to rank their familiarity with each technology from "very familiar" to "very unfamiliar."

The social media that was most familiar to the Inc. 500 in both studies is social networking with 42% of respondents claiming to be "very familiar with it" in 2007 and 57% in 2008.

In the 2007 study wikis were the least familiar to the Inc. 500, but in 2008 wikis jumped ahead of podcasting in familiarity.

Social Media in the US Corporate World: From Familiarity to Adoption

From familiarity, the survey moved into the companies' actual usage of social media.

The companies were asked in 2007 and again in 2008 if they were using the six social media discussed above and, if yes, for how long they had been using them.

Social Media in the US Corporate World: Acknowledgment of Strategic Role

Not only is this widespread adoption being driven by strong familiarity but also from the recognized critical role of social media to a company's future success in today’s online world.

When queried on the importance of social media, 26% of respondents in 2007 felt that social media is "very important" to their business and marketing strategy. That figure rose to 44% in approximately one year. It is clear that this group of fast-growing companies considers the use of social media as a central part of its strategic plan.

Related recent studies include Universal McCann's findings that half of adults in the US now use some form of social media online.

What does this mean? It means that when you tell people you write, read or listen to blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks and online video - if they give you a funny look, it is now officially them that's a freak, not you.

Are these tools really as useful as so many people appear to believe they are? That's another question, but at least we're getting a healthy number of people and businesses trying them out.

Major portion of this article was compiled from the two following articles:

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