A one year follow up on a study of social media adoption at 500 of the fastest growing companies in the US has found that familiarity with and use of blogs, podcasting, wikis, online video and social networking has skyrocketed 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.
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.
The study was written up on Robin Good's excellent blog Master New Media.
According to the study's authors, "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."
Social networking is the most familiar of the technologies. In 2007, wikis were the least familiar but they have since leapfrogged over podcasting.
It's notable that the study's authors found much more extensive use and growth in use in the fastest growing 500 US companies than they found in the Fortune 500, the largest companies. It would be a logical fallacy to argue that the fastest growing companies are growing fastest because of their use of social media, but it could be a factor. It could also be the case that insurgent companies have a greater incentive and proclivity to experiment than incumbent industry leaders.
Three interesting charts from the study can be found below, followed by links to related studies and a few thoughts.
Related recent studies include Universal McCann's findings that half of adults in the US now use some form of social media online and the April prediction from Forrester Research that "Enterprise 2.0" will become a $4.6 billion industry over the next 5 years.
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.
Another relevant data point to keep in mind might be analyst firm Gartner's "Hype Cycle," though. If this graph accurately expresses business sentiment then adoption doesn't equal satisfaction. Qualitative analyst studies like this are always very controversial, though.
See Master New Media for the full write up on the Inc. 500 report.
Top image from Robert Sanzalone.