Rankings are popping out of the earth like dandelion. Ben Elowitz and Charlene Li ranked the Top 100 Global brands of 2008 according to their engagement in social media.
This ranking is a bit older but since I missed it I would like to mention it anyway. Brand indexes on social media are becoming widely popular with now several companies, such as Vitrue, Vivaldi and Partners (or here) or NetProspex all offering their individual social brand ranking.
A while ago Charlene Li, writer of social media best-sellers like “Marketing in the Groundswell“, and Ben Elowitz released their own study on how the top 100 brands of the Interbrand ranking use social media. They analyzed how many social media channels a brand is present in (Blogs, Branded Network/Communities, Content distribution to other sites, Discussion forums, External social network presence, Wikis, Twitter, Flickr, ect.) . Than they measured the engagement with customers on these social media channels and concluded how high the engagement per fan with the company was. They classified the brand according to their engagement and usage of social media channels. Starbucks is the winner in this ranking, closely followed by Dell.
A second step was taken. This is the actual interesting fact they could find. The researchers looked at the financial performance of the brands in Q4 ’08, Q1 ’09, Q2 ’09 and Q3 ’09 and found that the higher the engagement of the brands were, the higher the financial performance was: ” We also found that social media reach alone may have a positive impact: Butterflies (classification) enjoyed significantly stronger revenue returns than Selectives or Wallflowers. [...]. Our hypothesis centers around touch points: More touch points can present a ripple effect, inducing viral marketing, boosting brand recognition and driving sales volume.” According to the authors the sample was made up of 66 brands of the top 100.
Some critics have pointed out some flaws. Is there really a correlation between presence in social media and financial performance, or is it a different influence factor? Is engagement always positive, or could high engagement also be influenced by peers expressing their anger (e.g. Nestlé).
You can download the full report ENGAGEMENTdb_Report_2009 and even see the ranking according to your industry sector (Since every industry has its own competitive situation)