Levi Strauss, BBVA, eBay, Danone and General Electric made the top five of the SMI-Wizness Social Media Sustainability Index 2012, an annual review examining how major firms use social media to communicate sustainability and corporate social responsibility.
The remaining top ten companies included Telefonica, IBM, Marks & Spencer, FedEx and Microsoft. Ford lost its former number three spot to eBay (new to the 2012 index), falling to 17.
Begun three years ago by SMI, a provider of communications intelligence and analysis, and Wizness, an online interactive network, the Index is designed to draw attention to social media’s potential to help communicate sustainability efforts.
The index looks at how 400 global publicly listed companies communicate their sustainability actions and programs using social media. These 400 are chosen from several sustainable company indices, including the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, the FTSE4GOOD and Newsweek’s Green Brands Survey.
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“The philosophies of social media and sustainability have common qualities that, when combined, have the power to improve business from within and without,” Wizness said in a release. “The foundations of both social media and sustainability are authenticity, transparency, community, innovation and creativity. Already, through social media, these forces have shaken the way most major companies do business — be it customer service, supply chain management or recruitment along with the more obvious areas of marketing and public relations.”
SMI analyzed which companies have a social media presence dedicated to communicating sustainability and found 176 fit the criteria, a significant increase from only 60 in the 2010 index.
This year consumer goods companies made up a majority of the top 100, which was dominated by retail, household goods, food and beverage and automobile firms. The report also said technology, financial services and industrial goods companies had a significant representation.
Most corporate sustainability communicators prefer using Facebook to share their news, followed by Twitter, the report said. Blogs and magazines were found to be more popular than YouTube, and Pinterest emerged as a new favorite for 15 companies. Only Cisco was found to use Google+ as part of its sustainability communication efforts.
In an interview last year, Simon Mainwaring, author of the New York Times bestseller We First and keynote speaker at SB ’12, explained why sustainable brands should embrace social media if they hope to thrive.
@Bart_King is a freelance writer and communications consultant. @mikehower contributed.