Can social media really help grow your business? A new study aims to find out by ranking the top brands on the Web.
Starbucks came in first place among the most branded or engaged names on the Web, according to the study released Monday by analyst Charlene Li of the Altimeter Group and Wetpaint.
The study, available at the Engagementdb Web site, scored how engaged the top 100 global brands are at using social-media channels, including blogs, Facebook, Twitter, wikis, and discussion forums.
Each brand was scored based on whether or not it uses all the different social media channels available, and how deeply. Adding up the scores for all criteria gave Starbucks the highest grade at 127 points, trailed closely by Dell with 123 points, and eBay with 115 points.
Li's report put brands into one of four categories, depending on their use of social media. The most engaged are "mavens," which tap into seven or more different channels and use social media as a key marketing and business strategy. Next are "butterflies," which also engage in seven or more channels but tend to spread themselves thin.
"Selectives" use six or fewer social-media channels but are deeply involved in those few channels. Bringing up the rear are "Wallflowers," which also use six or fewer channels and are novices in the world of social media.
Duracell, Mercedes-Benz, Kellogg's, and Gillette were among the wallflowers toward the bottom of the list.
In her report, Li also found a correlation between companies actively involved in social media and their revenue growth. On average, mavens enjoyed annual sales gains of 18 percent over the past 12 months, while wallflowers saw their sales decline by 7 percent.
Li, a former analyst with Forrester Research, acknowledges that these findings don't necessarily indicate a direct cause-and-effect relationship between social media and sales growth. Rather, she believes that social media and financial success often work together to create a healthy business that's in touch with its customers.
Curious how your own company ranks? The Engagementdb Web site offers an interactive tool where you can answer a few questions about your own social media involvement and receive a report by e-mail.