Drum Roll Please! The Social Media Top 10 | Not your usual suspects

This entry was also published on our Inside Track blog. Looks like social media is the hot topic of the day. It’s the most read blog in our history.

First of all, I have to come clean. I haven’t really drunk the whole “social media for business” Kool-Aid yet.

It’s not that I don’t “‘get it.” It’s that I just can’t quite triangulate how all of this smoke and fury is creating solid, measurable business benefits. You know those pesky metrics your VP wants that directly links social media investments to increased sales.

Despite these misgivings, I asked Jeff Gaff (our intrepid benchmarks guru) to insert a boatload of social media metrics into our benchmarks this year. By the time he finished, over 200 pieces of social media content & features were inserted into the benchmark and we were measuring social media behaviors across 15 key areas of a Website.

Here, the thinking was simple.

Every company we track has social media outposts. Twitter, Facebook, and increasingly, the LinkedIn platform. And they spend plenty of time and treasure filling them up with goodness that promotes their strategies and marketing stories.

But here’s the real question: how efficiently do their sites actually connect visitors to these venues? Do they just plop a universal social media panel in their global header or footer and call it good – or do they thread social media behaviors directly into their product, services, industry, and corporate marketing efforts?

To find out, we evaluated 20 leading Websites with an eye on two issues:

  1. Is it easy to find social media assets on the site; and
  2. Once you find them, are they easy to use?

And what did we learn? Five Websites hit the ball out of the park – one gets an atta boy – and everyone else needs to up their social media game.

Here’s three things you should know.

Size doesn’t count. With the exception of Oracle.com (which is the size of mother Russia) the rest of the top five performers — CA.com, EMC.com, Juniper.net, and SAP.com – are all small or medium stance sites. Bottom line: You can learn plenty of social media tricks from small but mighty sites.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. IBM.com and Cisco.com are the perennial eBusiness Index winners year after year. Not when social media is the issue. IBM.com’s Software Group site gives it a footprint in the top five – but Cisco.com doesn’t make the top ten (ranks 12th). HP.com and Dell.com – the other monolithic sites on the eBusiness Index – make the top 10, but miss a Good Practice rating by a country mile.

The guys who should get it — don’t. There’s always plenty of conjecture around the water cooler about whether social media really contributes to an enterprise marketing story — but its role in the consumer and SMB markets is pretty much accepted theory. Thus, you’d think that consumer and SMB powerhouses – like Microsoft.com, Symantec.com, and Adobe.com — would hit the ball out of the park.

You’d be wrong.

When all of the scores are added up, none of these sites cracked the 60 point mark, which puts them well out of Good Practice territory.

But all is not lost. Adobe.com and Microsoft.com did earn two “best of the best” social media slots: Adobe.com for services marketing – and Microsoft.com’s investor relations zone.

So what’s it all about Alfie?

So what should you take away from these new social media rankings? Ignore conventional wisdom. Just because a site is big doesn’t mean it is making the right social media marketing connections. Instead, focus your efforts on a handful of smaller sites that are probably outside of your industry and competitive radars.

And who are they? We’re glad you asked.

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About the Author:

I focus on strategy and trends – and how the Web turns business rules on their heads. My job is to identify the Web-related trends and best practices that will change your world over the next 18 months. Where you need to cut through the clutter of conventional wisdom. How to change the competitive rules of the game. More gory details in my profile -- and unvarnished opinions about the sites we evaluate on Google+