It was a simple idea. Take the top 5 IT services companies globally - and see how they're managing their brands on the social web.
So the top 5 under scrutiny (as defined by Services Top 100)
What we were looking for...
Visibility of links to social networking sites from their official websites - i.e. if you were an interested punter - how easy is it to find and connect with these big guns? Then more specifically, how are these brands using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs to engage with their audiences online? The results may surprise you.
But first a minor disclaimer: our study was carried out over a week in mid-May 2010. We may have overlooked some major, spirited social wizardry by one or more of these players due to the hot weather, but then again, so would a potentially persistent prospect of one of these behemoths.
Visibility of social network links from global site:
Best of the 5 in terms of connections to Facebook, Twitter, Digg It, LinkedIn and Delicious on every page - then again they're still firmly tucked away at the bottom of the site so it's easy to miss them.
With 80 plus IBM related Twitter accounts, the big challenge is discerning the official from the unofficial accounts. You'd presume big blue would be using the @ibm Twitter name, but the page has a measly single follower and an old, old IBM logo. Instead try @ibmdesign for one of the largest followings (circa 9.5k) and a sterling 1.7k tweets to date about IBM user experience design. @ibmnews seems to be the official news channel - with 2.7k+ followers and approx. 370 tweets. No consistent use of logo and profiles plus a lack of branded backgrounds suggest the brand could be better positioned and policed on Twitter.
Again second guess the IBM company page and you'll get page not found. There's an IBM presence - with an obscenely sized logo. Some 2.5k people like it but it doesn't strike us as being particularly official nor offering much of value. IBM Research on Facebook is better - 7.3k likes, active discussion forums, YouTube integration and links to research. That's more like it.
IBM has gone for the full blown branded channel experience - but while it's slick, it lacks real engagement with only 266 subscribers and 2.3k channel upload views. Think TV ads, think zzz. IBM Social Media is where where the smart money is - with 792k channel upload views, just shy of 1.9k subscribers - and more interesting thought-leadership content.
The IBM company presence has 2.8k followers plus further company pages for IBM GS and its numerous subsidiaries. There are some 1,080 IBM related LinkedIn Groups. Take your pick. The biggest are for alumni.
IBM has actively encouraged its staff to participate and interact online so the sheer number of IBM bloggers is no surprise. The only problem is finding the ones covering subjects you're interested in.
HPVisibility of social network links from global site:
Diddly squat visible on home page. You've just got to keep on digging.
While HP appears to have bagged the @hp Twitter name, it's unused and directs you to @hpnews for 'official news'. With just short of 18k followers and 2.3k plus to date, HP appears to top the top 5 in terms of following (but hard to say who wins on the quality of followers stakes). HP also uses nicely branded backgrounds providing details of its home page, the HP community online, blogs and Facebook account - that said the details aren't correct. @hpsupport appears to be run by a busy chap called Jeff - with his 1k+ Tweets and 340+ followers. But the interesting content seems to lie on @hplabs - billed as 'Official communications from the brilliant minds at HP Labs from around the world' with a keen following of 1.6k and some 300+ Tweets to date.
Very easy to track down the official HP Facebook page - and has some 70k likes to date. Content wise it's heavily pushing the 'Let's do Amazing' campaign videos, has an active Wall, a dedicated Eco section called Live Green, plus Support and Events pages. Looks like a fairly active community.
HP has also opted for a branded channel with some 2.3m upload views and 7.4k subscribers. The content is again heavily centred around the 'Let's do Amazing' campaign but we'll let them off as the Rhys Darby ads work for us. Interestingly - apart from the EDS herding cats video, there's no sight or sound of EDS on YouTube now the brand's been rolled into HP. A solid piece of brand management.
The HP company presence on LinkedIn has some 2.4k followers plus links to multiple subsidiaries. There are 512 HP related groups - the biggest of which are for alumni - including the rather scary HP Way - 'for those who believe in the values of HP'. Check out the Small Biz Nation Group - a forum for small businesses looking to 'maximise their success' with the help of HP and Intel.
HP has a good mix of community blogs around specific technologies and issues. Easier to navigate than IBM's A-Z listing.
FUJITSUVisibility of social network links from global site:
Zero on site.
Doesn't look like Fujitsu has been particularly keen to embrace Twitter. The @fujitsu account has just 48 followers, no tweets, no branding, no profile - is it official? @fujitsu_uk has 1 tweet which simply reads 'SAP' - and has a cult following of 50 (presumably they all like SAP). The strongest following with 1.1k followers and 500+ tweets appears to be for @fujitsu_ts - Fujitsu's Technology Solutions covering Continental Europe, MEA and India. There's a branded background featuring details of a blog, Facebook, YouTube and SlideShare channel. There are other Fuijtsu accounts for different geographic regions - but no consistency in approach.
The Fujitsu Facebook presence is centred around ShopFujitsu with 717 likes - and unsurprisingly it's a heavy hardware sell. There are a few other Fujitsu company pages but again its hard to separate the official from the unofficial.
The guys at Fuijtsu Technology Solutions are the ones leading the charge here with a dedicated channel covering tech themes and an assortment of expert interviews. It's scored some 46.5k upload views and 62 subscribers. Fujitsu Services has its own UK channel - it lacks branding but has some reasonable content in the form of case studies and some issues based videos. It's clocked up 4.4k channel upload views and 12 subscribers. The other notable channel is Fujitsu Fan pushing the company's mobile wares which has some 22k upload views and 24 subscribers.
There are company pages on LinkedIn for Fujitsu and Fujitsu Services - with a combined following of just over 100. There are several groups but again mainly for former and present employees. Notably there's a group for the Fujitsu Executive Discussion Evening, but with only 33 members, it's yet to build much traction.
The Face2Fujitsu blog, while difficult to find, provides expert views on dynamic infrastructures - and some interesting content. Where Fujitsu comes into its own though is with its CIO targeted community site - 'Global Intelligence for the CIO' - a members only site. Most of the content is restricted to members but what you can see is useful, offering genuine thought-leadership presented in news, blog and video form. Fujitsu branding is very (perhaps too?) subtle though.
Visibility of social network links from global site:
No links apparent but right there on the home page sits a promo for the CSC Mobile iPhone app - for viewing 'the latest csc.com updates, including press releases, case studies, videos, events and more.'
The @csc account has been taken by a member of Joe Public - that's the problem with three letter acronyms. The first vaguely official account we could track down is @cscnews - with 2.2k followers and some 400 tweets under its belt. @cscinsider track supports the company's partnership with the Virgin Formula 1 team. With @trustedcloud - CSC looks like its trying to mark out its territory in the Cloud space - with 264 followers and 167 tweets so far.
The CSC Facebook presence all seems a little half hearted. To its credit, it's secured 2.6k plus likes but content wise, all you'll find is a few wall posts and a single video.
We really struggled to find an official channel. While there are a fair few CSC related videos, none seem to be branded or owned by CSC.
Buried within the CSC site sits CSC Voices. Some reasonable content here - mostly in the form of videos but really difficult to navigate as you're simply presented with a list of content.
Visibility of social network links from global site:
Links to Twitter and Podcasts - easily found on home page.
At last, @accenture is owned by Accenture and fully branded with details of links to blogs, podcasts and newsletters . This global account has some 11.6k followers and 636 tweets - and provides updates on 'Accenture research, blogs, podcasts and more'. There are multiple sub accounts for different regions. The other notable account is @accenturelabs with 434 followers and 113 tweets.
The Accenture Facebook has attracted 3.4k likes but again is underwhelming in its content provision, aside from a few wall posts.
Accenture has a dedicated channel bringing together some useful content that's easy to navigate (e.g. some of the videos are segmented by industry sector). The video content appears to be presented in an engaging way - check out the Common Craft style Analytics video.
Accenture's company page has 1.3k followers, there's a good careers section and over 170 Accenture related groups - again primarily for alumni folk.
Accenture has multiple blogs structured around the company's go-to-market services. They're easy to find in the Research and Insights section of the main site. Interestingly when we checked out the Accelerating High Performance Blog it was last updated in July 2008 though. Not so high performance.
SUMMARY:So what can we conclude from our foray into the use of the social web by the world's top 5 IT services companies?
1. There's a clear divide between those that have been willing to embrace social media - IBM, HP and Accenture - to varying degrees of success and those who still seem to be making tentative steps - Fujitsu and CSC.
2. With the management of any global brand comes a degree of complexity. It seems to have become more of a problem for IBM, particularly from a customer's perspective in trying to discern the official from the unofficial presences across the social web. Encouraging greater consistency in use of logo, backgrounds (c.f. HP's approach to Twitter) and profile info would certainly help. That said, to IBM's credit, it's obvious the company is actively out there, encouraging its employees to share their expertise and engage in online discussions. Perhaps moreso than Accenture, who seem to be more carefully policing their brand, but by doing so, appear fairly faceless - failing to showcase the personalities and expertise within their business.
3. There's a real sense that the top 5 could go some way to joining up their identities across the various social networks. It demands a lot of determination, time and effort on the part of interested parties to connect with these service providers online - particularly, with Fujitsu and CSC who at times just seem to be running scared from social networking sites.
4. All of the top 5 are happily embracing video - and with the exception of CSC are actively using YouTube as a channel to aggregate this content. No surprise when recent research has identified that 47% of IT professionals watch videos to research technology solutions on YouTube.
5. In our mind, HP is the winner to date in terms of overall social networking strategy... by a whisper - with IBM a close second. Accenture is putting in a strong performance on Twitter and YouTube. While Fujitsu's i-cio.com initiative is genuinely innovative, its overall approach is arguably a little too cautious to pay dividends. Finally, CSC is the laggard. One iPhone app does not a social engagement strategy make.
There seems to be a lot the top 5 could do better, particularly when you look at how the likes of Cisco and Juniper are managing their brands across the social web. There's certainly an opportunity being missed to reach out and build a dialogue with senior execs online outside of the confines of their corporate sites. And for us minnows, you could say it's strangely reassuring that the big guys haven't quite got it right yet.
Please note: the numbers referenced throughout are a snapshot in time - and will change. While we've done our utmost to ensure they're as accurate as possible, if we've got them wrong, apologies, we'll take the nearest person we can pin it on outside and shoot them.