There’s a new company ranking out from a SocialEQ tool from APCO Worldwide and Huffington Post. It’s supposed to be a new research model that has what they call, “a unique approach to evaluating the effectiveness of a company’s social media strategy through quantitative means.” They scored the Fortune 40 “Most Admired” companies based on their research model to show which companies are most socially successful through the eyes of their model.

Let me caution you now that it’s not a measure of a company’s social media strategy effectiveness, but of the public perception of that effectiveness. Still, it offers some interesting ideas on how the public (sort of) views a company’s success in the social space and how we as marketers can think through our approaches.

The model breaks down a company’s effectiveness like this:

  • 30% of your score is based on your “Dialogue”
  • 26% is based on your “Customer Service”
  • 15% is based on “Quality of Content”
  • 13% is based on “Platform Diversity”
  • 8% is based on “Engagement & Interaction”
  • 7% is based on “Optimization”

Unfortunately, the model was developed a bit strangely, but certainly in a respectable fashion from a research standpoint. They asked 2-3 dozen people what makes a company have an effective social media presence. All were influencers and probably have a more than average understanding of social media. Once they had those factors, they surveyed 4,000 people who were moderately active in social media about their perception of the Fortune 40 companies.

So it’s a perception rating based on factors knowledgeable social media people say are important.

But the model is not to be mistaken for a good judge of any company’s social media success. It’s a perception tool, not a social media success tool. Here’s why:

The heaviest weighted score — the 30% for “Dialogue” — lists as its first requirement for performance that the company has a visible and active CEO or senior leadership presence online. If that’s a requirement of 30% of a company’s score, then 90% of all companies everywhere start out with 70%.

The key mistake in thinking behind this score card as a judgement of social media strategy or execution is that the model assumes every company has the same needs, the same audience, the same goals and want the same outcomes. What if a company funnels their customer service offline for legal reasons (health care, pharma)? Do they just fail 26% of the test? And optimizing your content for search is only 7% of the total? Search engine results drive a hell of a lot more than 7% of a company’s online payoff.

And at the end of the day, when Apple is the No. 2 most successful social media company, you know what you’re measuring isn’t reality. I love Apple, but they’re about as social as Ebenezer Scrooge with a head cold and hemorrhoids.

What’s important to note here, from a broad marketing standpoint, are the different modeling factors. These are all points of consideration for what the public thinks is important for a company in the social media space. Seeing how the larger enterprise corporations score against one another is interesting and I would applaud APCO and Huffington Post for giving us some different metrics to chew on.

But please know the model isn’t something that should be applied specifically to your company.

What’s your take? Any company’s rank on the list surprise you? The comments are yours.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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