FRIDAY 31 MAY 2013 3:55 PM


Many brands have learned to move beyond the “we must do social” concept and have begun to integrate social media into the overall business strategy. These companies maintain the most effective means of reaching their audiences as their social media efforts are aligned with company’s general purpose.

In separating the wheat from the chaff, Headstream’s three-year-old Social Brands 100 survey trawls the internet for the brands that best use social media channels, based on KPIs, response rates, engagement and growth, among other metrics.

These ratings contribute to the ultimate top-100 list of social businesses. This year’s survey features an ongoing dominance by retail brands, largely due to their customer service efforts via social media. Other standout brands include travel and telecoms providers and certain charities. At last week’s launch event at the Royal Society of Arts, communications professionals from some of the top brands in the ranking shared their thoughts.

Web and community director at Electronic Arts, Simon Stokes, says the gaming company harnesses the existing conversation surrounding its brands when approaching social. “We can’t just broadcast material,” he says. “All we can do is to help stimulate that conversation.”

Alternatively, Absolut uses content marketing and unique photography to develop an iconic attitude alongside the Absolut brand. American Airlines focuses on customer service due to the highly-pressurised customer engagement environment airlines experience. Upstart e-tailer Appliances Online focuses its social media efforts on Facebook as part of a dual customer service and internal communications programme. The Dogs Trust has been prominent on YouTube for some years.

Despite the different approaches these companies take, two themes feature throughout their cases, and the survey itself: engaging content and customer service. By addressing those strategies, social media becomes part of the brand’s core communications strategies.