Short form: In collaboration with Socialtext, we've created a wiki that tracks which of the Fortune 500 is blogging. We found that only
3 4% of the F500 are doing so. Check it out here.
Long form: Earlier this year I was at a dinner with Doc Searls and we got to talking about why some companies blog and some don't. Microsoft blogs, and Apple doesn't. Sun blogs and Intel doesn't. GM blogs and Toyota doesn't. And so on.
Perhaps, Doc wondered, the risks and uncertainties of public business blogging are so great that big companies only do it under duress, when their traditional corporate messaging has lost traction. So companies on the way up don't want to mess with their success by introducing a new lens on the enterprise that isn't controlled by the PR department. But companies on the way down are willing to try anything to regain the confidence of their customers. [Update: Doc has posted more background on this here.]
Hmm, I thought. That's testable. Let's look at which of the Fortune 500 companies are blogging and compare their past twelve month share performance with those that aren't. If this theory stands up, the blogging members of the F500 will have underperformed the nonblogging members. And then we can also see if blogging makes a difference going forward, by continuing to follow the two cohorts.
So I asked our research department to check it out. And they quickly discovered that the problem is that there's no good list of F500 company blogs.
Business blogging, as we defined it, is:
Active public blogs by company employees about the company and/or its products.
This site has a list of F500 companies with blogs, but doesn't distinguish between internal and external ones (and doesn't link to any of them so they can be checked). This wiki has a linked list of blogs, but it's a bit of a mishmash, ranging from tiny companies to big ones, with some non-profits thrown in as well. (The NewPRwiki also has a list of CEO blogs, which is better, but still doesn't fit the bill.)
So we decided to create a list ourselves, and put the ace Wired interns on the case. But they, too, discovered that it's tough to do right, given ambiguity about what is or isn't a proper business blog, what's still active and so on.
Nevertheless, they did come up with a rough version, which you can see in this spreadsheet. By the above definition, they found only
16 18 members ( 3 4%) of the Fortune 500 with business blogs. [UPDATE: the wiki's working already; contributors found two more companies blogging, including (ulp!) IBM. Don't know how we missed that. The spreadsheet and the share price performance stats have been updated] And, for what it's worth with such a small sample size, the average trailing 12-month share performance of the blogging members was +5 +4%, while the performance of non-blogging members was +19%. So although the statistics aren't good enough to confirm Doc's theory, they do point in the right direction.
The next step was to improve the data. So we've decided to open source the project. In collaboration with Ross Mayfield at Socialtext, we've created the Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki. It's a wiki'd version of the above spreadsheet that anyone can edit, adding new Fortune 500 blogs as they're found or revising existing entries. It's released under a Creative Commons attribution license, so anyone is free to use it any way as long as they point back to the wiki.
Over time, as the list gets more robust, we'll add the share price performance back in and turn it into a Business Blogging Index so you can see if blogging is indeed correlated to company performance (and who knows, maybe someday some smart mutual fund will actually turn it into a fund you can buy). Have at it!