Yesterday I had the chance to speak with Reggie Bradford, the CEO of Vitrue which just compiled their second annual list of the top 100 “Most Social Brands.” To clarify right off the bat, this isn’t measuring the level of social activity of the brand, but rather the sheer number of mentions the brand has across social networks, photo sharing sites, and video sharing sites. It doesn’t take into account whether the sentiment is negative or positive, it’s strictly the number of mentions.
Having said that, there are a some pretty interesting insights you can gather from the list that I wanted to talk to Mr. Bradford about.
I first asked him what surprised him about this year’s list. Did any brands make the list you didn’t expect? Bradford said that what really surprised him were some of the brands that were omitted from the list, namely CPG and travel brands. He mentioned that CPG brands haven’t really jumped on the social bandwagon just yet, which hasn’t exactly helped encourage social mentions. The way I look at travel is that consumers see travel brands as a means to an end as opposed to a tangible product or noteworthy experience of any kind, therefore, consumers don’t mention the brands in their social networks. However, if you look at the Roger Smith Hotel, it’s evident that creating a buzz worthy travel experience IS possible, it’s just that not many are concerned about it right now.
It certainly wasn’t surprising to see quite a few tech brands on the list because, as Mr. Bradford explained, they tend to be the first of the early adopters when any shiny new technology comes out.
I was interested to ask Bradford about any changes he noticed from the 2008 list to the 2009 one and he said that domestic auto companies saw a big drop in mentions. The reasoning for this is that in 2008, the auto industry was a very hot topic with everything that was going on in Capitol Hill, which generated a lot of conversation around the companies. So, the decline in mentions is actually a welcome sight for these companies.
What’s very interesting to me is how there is very little correlation between the number of brand mentions and the level of social participation from that brand. Apple has multiple brands on the list, but they’re famously absent from social media. What this tells me is that social media will not save your brand (gasp!). What it comes down to is having great products. If you can do this, there WILL be buzz around your brand.
This isn’t to say that social media is a fruitless venture. If you are active in the space, you’ll be able to interact with and engage all of these mentions, which will only increase their affinity towards your brand.
So, some effective use of social media may not get you in the top 100, but it can ensure that once you do crack the list, you’ll be getting the most out of your stay.
What are your reactions to the Most Social Brands list? Any surprises?
Thanks to Reggie Bradford for taking the time to chat with me yesterday and to Gretchen Miller (Go Heels!) for setting up the phone call!
Photo by -= ierkof =-