100 brands ranked by (social) ability to engage

socialbrandstop20listThe first ranking of brands in the UK by their "social quotient" was published a few days ago, and the report makes for interesting reading.

Published by Headstream consultants, Social Brands 100 ranks some well-known (and not so well-known) brands – from multinationals to small UK-based businesses – by each brand’s ability to "engage with a connected people." Brands were scored against three rankings: social brand score, social engagement score and panel score, to produce each position.

Top of the ranking is Dell, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given the visible and successful efforts scores of Dell people make worldwide to engage with others online, listen as part of the company’s clearly-stated community goals, and actively seek customers’ engagement via the innovative IdeaStorm website.

I think that the key element underpinning Dell’s success is a clear belief at the company that social media is just another communication tool that all employees will use in the near future. In other words, it’s simply another means of engaging with other people, using the tools and channels that work best for everyone.

Headstream’s research was conducted over three months with the contribution of an external panel of social experts drawn from business, academia, media and communications, and Brandwatch, the social media analytics data provider.

Key insights Headstream highlight include:

[...] Big brands are likely to invest more in social, so we sought a means for accessing a brand’s sociability that truly rewarded the best social brand behaviours.

Our findings show that, whilst there is no common route to a brand becoming social, for those in our 100 ranking, there is an apparent understanding of the need to engage people in a different way.

The study shows that being a truly social brand can represent a major challenge, from how engagement is undertaken within different communities, to the expectation that is formed by people towards that brand.

This confirms a simple but clear point about social media and organizations – the prerequisite for potential success is a genuine shift in mind-set in how you think about engaging with people. Dell represents the epitome of that organizational behaviour change. All it requires is people to make that change happen within the organization.

As with any survey or research that produces rankings, getting some idea of the research methodology is key to whether you assign the information any level of credibility and trust. In this case, Headstream has given some useful information on this aspect of their work:

Firstly, we openly asked people which brands they thought were social, crowd sourcing our Social Brands 100 through a Twitter nomination process running between 8th and 30th November 2010.

Secondly, we undertook deskbased research on all the brands nominated, with around 30,000 tweets, posts, comments, and likes being examined to provide the quantitative basis for the Social Engagement Score.

[...] Simultaneously, our social media data analytics provider, Brandwatch, ran analytics on each brand for a period of three months, and that data completed the measurement used to award the Social Engagement Score to each brand.

[...] Finally, our Expert Panel provided a score for each brand, reflecting their industry expertise around a brand’s social activities. The panel’s score was then aggregated.

To achieve a final Social Brand Score, we added the Social Engagement Score and the Expert Panel Scores together to create the Social Brands 100 ranking.

Headstream offers four PDF files for download – the full report, the rankings tables only, brands’ average sector score, and brands by sector – each of which you can get at the Social Brands 100 website.