The largest corporations in America are slowing the pace of their social media adoption, according to a recent UMass Dartmouth study which analyzed data from the years 2008-2010. The research compares the use of corporate blogs and Twitter accounts to previous years, while looking at Facebook use in 2010 alone. Here are four of the most interesting and important takeaways.

1. Blogging growth cools

From 2008 to 2009, the number of Fortune 500 corporations with public-facing blogs rose by 6% (from 16% – 22%), but then crept up by only 1% to 23% in 2010. We might be witnessing a collective case of “shiny object syndrome,” as newer platforms like Twitter and Facebook seem like better bets given skyrocketing consumer adoption. Whatever the case, it’s important for companies to realize that blog readership is still on the rise and should not be neglected—the 51% of US internet users reading blogs at least once per month this year is projected to grow to 60% by 2014.

2. Bigger companies more social, Twitter steals the show

Interestingly, those closer to the top of the Fortune 500 are more likely to adopt blogs and Twitter than their counterparts with lower rankings. The top 100 companies account for just shy of 1/3 of the total number of blogs in 2010, while the top 200 hold 50% of the Twitter accounts. In just one year, the number of corporate Twitter accounts on the list has risen from 175 (35%) to 298 (60%). There are currently 175,000,000 Twitter users, as compared to 58,000,000 at the end of 2009, so corporate tweeting seems to be fueled by a desire to use the same channels preferred by consumers.

3. Two-way conversations on Twitter

One of the most interesting findings in the study concerns the level of engagement seen coming from the 298 companies with Twitter accounts. While the number might not floor us, a significant minority (35%) of tweeting companies are actually engaging with others in the medium in the form of retweets and @replies. Most companies respond within 72 hours to brand mentions (in instances when they do respond). This level of interaction is a far cry from the image many have of the monolithic, guarded corporation, and it should grow as the benefits of such engagement are proven over time.

4. Red tape no match for forward-thinking

Insurance is one of the most heavily-regulated industries in the US, and yet it leads in Facebook page adoption. In 2009, 13 of the Insurance companies in the Fortune 500 had Twitter accounts, more than any other vertical. This number rose to 20 Facebook pages in 2010 and beat out the Utilities, Computer Software, Peripherals, Office Equipment and Telecommunications industries. It would seem that if Insurance can cut through the red tape to get social, companies in other verticals with similar challenges can do the same.

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