FT Global 500 companies still digitally challenged

FT Global 500 Digital Corporate CommunicationsNew research reveals that many FT Global 500 companies are still failing to manage their digital strategies effectively.

The sixth annual FT Bowen Craggs Index shows that an alarming number of companies still don’t understand that the corporate website is now one of the most effective communications channels that a company owns.

The research also looks at how these companies use social media channels and apps. While it found lots of activity, much of appeared as if

‘companies have simply grabbed the latest things – whether they are iPad apps or Google + pages – without considering how they will work alongside the website, YouTube channels, Twitter feeds and the rest.’

Bowen Craggs & Co concludes that one of the biggest problems is a lack of senior management engagement.

‘The companies at the top of the Index are those where the bosses understand how important online communication is, and have diverted (relatively trivial) resources towards them coherently. Too many of the others have jumped on the latest bandwagons, but failed to manage them strategically. That should be a real concern not just for the comms team, but for the Board.’

The top 10 from the 2012 Corporate Web Effectiveness Index are:

1 Royal Dutch Shell, UK/Netherlands
2 BP, UK
3 Eni, Italy
4 Siemens, Germany
5 Roche, Switzerland
6 Unilever, UK/Netherlands
7 British American Tobacco, UK
8 Novartis, Switzerland
9 BASF, Germany

It’s notable that only one US company (IBM) makes the top 10 and that all of the others are European, despite the large number of FT Global 500 companies from elsewhere in the world.

Last year I led an international research project working with the United Nations to publish The Global Social Media and CSR Report 2011– the world’s first global research into how the same FT Global 500 companies use social media to support their corporate social responsibility strategies. The results were not too dissimilar with a disappointing low level and quality of activity.

The FT Bowen Craggs Index is a very useful and interesting piece of research, although it might have been better if they’d made it easier to share the story. The Bowen Craggs & Co website is a social web free zone with absolutely nothing to help you report or share the story and send readers to its website. The research isn’t on any document sharing website, there is no infographic or even crude ‘share’ or ‘bookmark’ buttons. The report rightly criticises companies for jumping on the latest bandwagons by randomly adding Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc to sites without any apparent strategy. But its own strategy appears to be do nothing, which equally certainly isn’t right!

UPDATE: Disclaimer – Unilever is a former client where I worked with the global corporate communications team on international social media.

Related articles

UN supported international research into how FT Global 500 use social media for CSR (stuartbruce.biz)

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