There is a lot of data on the web about the ’presence’ of companies in the social networks and channels. We constantly see this in the various blogs and other online forums but most of the data is about the US. And sometimes this data is confused with participation or engagement which is not the same thing at all. ( See How to understand Social Presence Value )

This has led to initiatives like the Social Business Index from the Dachis Group – I must admit to being a fan of this type of analysis but the challenge I see with that index is that its not clear from the outside how it works. And in the world of social media, transparency is all. However, excellent work like this promotes additional thinking in organisations like ours.

Raw numbers are not the answer – but a starting point

We do a lot of work with Australian companies and we often wonder (as do they) how they compare with others in the social networks, both at home and in other markets. It seems like this question is mostly asked in the context of who has the biggest following – fans, friends and followers. We would never encourage any organisation to consider that this type of metric is the right way to determine success (So What? is the right question), nor is it the way that organisations should benchmark themselves to competitors in the industry.

Yet, there is some place for this kind of analysis to understand whether or not Australian companies are cognizant of and utilising the opportunities that social networks provide to engage with customers and prospects in new and more intimate ways. We completely understand that ‘presence’ is not a substitute for engagement. But it is a precursor.

NCP model of Presence

We believe greatly in the NCP model – Network, Contribution, Participation. Companies and brands cannot create engagement if they do not have a Network of critical mass, and if they do not use that Network to create value and influence. Participation or engagement is a result of network size and contribution and is measured through views, comments, sentiment, favouriting and so on through consumption and feedback.

Whilst a company or brand could simply monitor the social web for information regarding the brand, key words and terms, competitors or to understand where conversations of interest are taking place, that does not produce participation or engagement.  If they wish to impact any of that data they have to participate – and that starts with building the appropriate networks.

Network presence a crude proxy for engagement

We also believe that as crude as it may be, the presence of Australian companies on the key networks may be a ‘proxy’ measure for how engaged the Executive of that company is in the social channels or how much they believe that becoming a social business is key to the future success of their organisation. Typically, where the executive team of a company does not believe in the efficacy of social media to enhance the attainment of key company goals they will not allocate funds or resourcing toward that effort resulting in disjointed and poorly architected presence in the social channels – regardless of where the responsibility for that effort lies within the corporation.

The Australian Social Business Index

So, we decided to do some research on an Australian Social Business Index. In essence, researching the presence of top Australian companies to understand how intent they are on building effective social networks to allow them to contribute value to their fans, followers and friends and ultimately measure participation.

We used the BRW Top 1000 to determine the top Australian companies in order of revenue (the list shows some interesting “Australian” companies). And we looked at the three dominant social networks – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and we looked at whether or not these were connected to the organisations website. On those channels, we looked at how large their networks are – in LinkedIn for example how many followers are there; how many employee’s are connected and how thoroughly do they use LinkedIn in terms of the company profile, careers and products and services. We used similar measures for the other channels.

How did the Top 10 Australian Companies rate?

So following is the humble beginnings of our take on the Australian Social Business Index. Here we are just looking at the Top 10 ‘Australian’ companies and their social network presence. We also make some commentary on levels of transparency etc exhibited in the networks. As you would no doubt appreciate, this information is highly fluid and any errors are mine alone – for which I apologise.

Let’s start with the web sites of the Top 10 Australian companies:

Social Links?
BHP Billiton No No  
Woolworths Yes Yes  Facebook links.
Wesfarmers No No Holding Company
Rio Tinto Yes – Twitter Only Yes – Graduates  
Commonwealth Bank Yes – except LinkedIn No  
Westpac Bank No No  
National Australia Bank No No  
ANZ Banking Group No No  
Telstra Yes Yes – Support  
Xstrata Holdings No No 100% foreign owned


So, of the 10 largest companies in Australia 6 do not have links to their social media presence on their websites which seems extraordinary to us. Telstra is the only enterprise in the Top 10 who have links to  the  major social networks in Facebook and Twitter, plus a Community support platform  on their website.

The Commonwealth Bank does pretty well with links to everything except their LinkedIn profile and Rio Tinto only links to their Twitter account. The rest seem not to care about linkage of their presence and the amplification of communication – but as we shall see; many don’t have presences in the networks to link to! Perhaps they don’t care about conversations and engagement? Perhaps they don’t have executive support for social initiatives? In the case of Wesfarmers it is somewhat understandable as this is really a holding company – we shall see in future analyses how their group companies like Bunnings and K Mart fare. Finally, it would seem that Xstrata don’t appear that interested in talking to anyone – more on that in the tables below. We will leave any commentary on the quality of the website design up to you!

By and large, at the most elemental level of networking – connecting websites with social channels – the Top 10 pretty much fail the test. The standout exception is Telstra who not only link throughout the networks; but who also provide a number of different communities (primarily for customer driven support). Woolworths have a link to their Facebook page and they do have a number of communities which are accessible from the website. Commonwealth Bank does a reasonable job and in our eyes at least, the rest get an ‘F’.

Their LinkedIn Presence

So now, lets have a look at how well LinkedIn is used by the Top 10:

Company Company
Followers % of Employees
in LinkedIn
BHP Billiton Yes Yes No 23950 23.3%
Woolworths Yes No No 4331 1.7%
Wesfarmers Yes No No 825 Holding Company
Rio Tinto Yes Yes Yes 18015 21.5%
Commonwealth Bank Yes No No 13464 20.0%
Westpac Bank Yes No Yes 12231 24.7%
National Australia Bank Yes Yes Yes 16994 28.1%
ANZ Banking Group Yes Yes No 19264 25.5%
Telstra Yes Yes No 20071 33.1%
Xstrata Holdings Yes Yes No 2157 Holding Company

So every company in the Australian Top 10 has a company profile page in LinkedIn. Just over half of them have a Careers listing but only 3 of them have a products or services listing. Guess we are supposed to know what they do! In terms of the number of followers, BHP Billiton is the most watched company on LinkedIn amongst the Top 10.

In order to determine the percentage of employee’s listed on LinkedIn we simply queried the number of people with the company listed as their current company of employment and divided it by the total number of employee’s according to their annual reports or other official company data on their website.

It seems like, unless you are a holding company, that about a quarter of your workforce will generally have a profile on LinkedIn (and hopefully may be active there promoting the organisation through participation).

Of course, there is no easy way to judge how well an organisation’s employee’s are using LinkedIn on the company’s behalf but this is seen as the premier professional network and is obviously the network of choice for both recruiting as well as job seeking. Which is why its a little surprising that more organisations don’t use the Career section. Again, Telstra is a standout here with a third of its employee’s present in LinkedIn. Lets hope they are not seeking employment elsewhere! At the other end of the scale less than 2% of Woolworths workforce seem to have a presence on LinkedIn providing few opportunities for their managers, for example, to participate in groups in order to increase both their personal and employers profile.

Still hanging in there? In Part Two of this series we will look at how the ten largest companies in Australia use Twitter and Facebook and then review if there is a consistent picture emerging of the adoption of social media on the way to becoming a social business.

We would love your feedback on this analysis – it is not a trivial exercise to collect the data. But if there is a good reaction we will extend the analysis to the Top 20, Top 50, Top 100. We will be guided by you.