Market Strategies International conducted a research of 146 leading brands success in social media in 2011. The measurements include both consumer-generated social media and the brands’ sponsored content with an accent on the second one. The brands were picked based on the top companies in the 2010 Fortune 500 and on Interbrand’s 100 Best Global Brands.

“Companies are swimming in web analytics, but they often have no idea where they are in relation to other swimmers,” said Theo Downes-Le Guin, a consultant to Market Strategies and its former chief research officer.

While conducting the research, 4 key elements were found that define a successful brand in social media:

  • Volume  – The number of posts, comments and mentions represents the extent to which a brand is being discussed online in any forum or social media context.
  • Net Sentiment represents the ratio of positive to negative sentiments expressed about a brand based on automated natural language processing of the content of posts, comments and mentions.
  • Positive Emotions represent the number of content items that are identified as having positive emotions, again based on automated coding of content.
  • Sponsored Presence represents the number of “likes” on a company’s sponsored Facebook US/English page, the number of followers per sponsored corporate Twitter account(s), and the number of subscribers to sponsored YouTube channel(s). A brand’s sponsored presence on these platforms indicates intent to create consumer engagement with fans, followers or viewers, a proxy for reach in traditional marketing terms.
Social Media Brand Index

It was found that every industry has a “right” level of social, and that diversity of social channels and tactics is critical to success. For example, the top brand in commercial banks is Bank of America with and index score of 459, while the top automotive brand Ford has an index score of 840. Also if the reach has no positive sentiment (comments, shares, feedback) it’s a short-term win.

Social Media Brand Index - Top 20 Brands

Downes-Le Guin added, “We’re still very early in the game in terms of understanding and analyzing social media marketing efforts, and we’re years away from an agreed-upon ROI model. But, we believe social media will remain an important part of the marketing mix and our ability to validly demonstrate that importance will grow over time.”

While Apple is the most admired brand in 2012, they trail 11 places behind Starbucks, so what role does social media influence play in brand-user engagement/admiration?

One more thing I find interesting is that Blackberry is the only one in the top 20 brands that has a negative score for net sentiment. RIM faced a lot of issues lately, and BB users were turning to other smartphone manufacturers. Can their new marketing effort help them?