The Fortune 500 Finally Get the Benefits of Blogging/Social Media Marketing | Direct marketing and consumer engagement |

Well it’s about time. It only took them 5 years, but it looks like the top U.S. companies are finally jumping on the blogging/social media marketing bandwagon. At least that’s the upshot of this year’s installment of the annual study on social media adoption on the part of Fortune 500 companies conducted by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research.

As the above graphic from the study illustrates, after steadying for a few years, corporate blogging is on the rise in 2012.

Here’s something interesting. Since the UMass Dartmouth study began tracking data in 2008, rank has influenced adoption of blogging in the Fortune 500, with corporations ranking in the top 200 out-blogging those in the bottom 200. This trend held steady in 2012, with 54% of all Fortune 500 blogs coming from the top 200 corporations, and 28% coming from those ranked 300-500.

Even though only 28% of the Fortune 500 seem to be accepting the benefits of blogging, those companies that have are doing it right. Fully 90% of the F500 companies that blog encourage comments, have RSS feeds, and take subscriptions. Here’s an excerpt from an abstract of the study:

“It appears that those companies that have made the decision to blog have utilized the tool well. There is frequent posting, on-going discussion and the ability to follow the conversation easily through RSS or email subscriptions.” 

According to the study, nearly three-quarters (73%) of the F500 have corporate Twitter accounts and have tweeted in the past month, an 11% increase over last year. Significantly, every one of the top 10 companies (Exxon, Wal-Mart, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, General Motors, General Electric, Berkshire Hathaway, Fannie Mae, Ford Motors and Hewlett-Packard) consistently post on their Twitter accounts.

Surprisingly, Twitter edges out Facebook in the percentage of F500 companies using their social network: just two-thirds (66%) of the F500 are now on Facebook, an 8% increase since last year. Further, only 8 of the top 10 companies (Wal-Mart, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, General Motors, General Electric, Fannie Mae, Ford Motors and Hewlett-Packard) have Facebook Pages. Exxon and Berkshire Hathaway are still holding out (come on, Warren, time to create a FB company profile!).

In another shocker, the UMass Dartmouth study found that the F500 are actually starting to see the utility of social visual marketing platforms such as YouTube and Pinterest. Roughly 62% of the top 500 companies have a YouTube account, and 11 of them (2%) are on Pinterest. In an ironic twist, 1 of the 11 happens to be Eastman Kodak.

In spite of a relatively sluggish adoption curve relative to SMBs, the UMass Dartmouth study suggests the Fortune 500 are finally coming around to the obvious merits of social media marketing. Considering their massive reach, this should’ve been a more intuitive relationship earlier on, especially given the many ways social media can benefit these companies, from fostering direct consumer engagement and promoting online content marketing campaigns, to facilitating less-marketing-centric initiatives like hiring and fundraising.

In any event, this is good news for the small or medium-size business owner or marketer, if only anecdotally. When the top 500 companies in the U.S. start moving their massive resources to further integrate social media marketing into their existing operations, it is a powerful affirmation that SMBs should be doing so too.

To riff on the famous EF Hutton commercial: when the Fortune 500 talk, people listen.