I recently read an article that talked about how the top 500 fastest growing companies are using social media, with statistics taken from a Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth study.
The study shows how much social media has infiltrated the world of business. Take the case of Inc. Magazineâ€™s 500 fastest growing companies (versus Fortuneâ€™s 500 list). Social Networking (e.g. Twitter) seems to be very popular among the Inc. 500 crowd, with 75% of the respondents saying they were â€œvery familiar with itâ€ in 2009 as opposed to 57% in 2008.
Jeff Bullasâ€™ blog on the topic compares how the Inc. 500 crowd fares in terms of embracing social media compared to the Fortune 500 crowd:
â€¢ In 2007, the study found that only 8% of the Fortune 500 companies were blogging compared to Inc. 500â€™s 19%;
â€¢ In 2008, the difference was even greater, with 16% of the Fortune 500 companies blogging compared to 39% of Inc. 500;
â€¢ In 2009, 45% of the Inc. 500 companies were blogging.
For companies who want substantial growth without incurring too much infrastructure or overhead costs, it makes perfect sense to embrace social media. Microblogging through Twitter, and getting the news out through Facebook or via LinkedIn is so very vogue and real time. In this age of instant gratification, people want information now and they donâ€™t want to pay for it.
Donâ€™t get me wrong, Iâ€™m a huge fan of social media and the digital â€œuniversal think tankâ€ mentality. Thereâ€™s no better way to share information and exchange ideas short of hosting a conference call or do video conferencing (without the costs). But not all the information that is shared can be reliable.
In other words, you cannot believe everything you read on Twitter and Facebook because they are not fact checked. They are opinions and should merely be treated as such. If you want facts, where do you typically turn to? Traditional media. Iâ€™m not saying The New York Times and Forbes are flawless â€“ in fact, I know theyâ€™re not, and of course they have political bent. But as far as factual accuracy batting averages go, they are further ahead than social media (and blogs too for that matter).
Of course, in the not too distant future, things may change, and fact checking and verification may well become vogue for Twitter fanatics. But for now, a credible placement can be as valuable (if not more so) than a tweet or an update.
This is why companies who are growing need both: traditional and social media. After all, the best way to show your competition (and the public) that you can be both credible and get written about all over the place is to show them results from both forms of approach.