Social media superstars 2014

January 16, 2014, 4:29 PM UTC

Here’s how 9 Best Companies use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social networks to stay ahead of the competition.

1 Autodesk

Best Companies rank: 70
Social media used: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Blogs, Pinterest, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, Buzzfeed Community, Reddit

Autodesk (ADSK)is active across most major social media platforms at a broad company-wide level and through industry and product-specific presences (for example, it has active Autodesk and AutoCAD Facebook pages.) Autodesk also experiments with new social platforms and channels. In 2013 it held its first Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session, and it created an Autodesk community on Buzzfeed.

During the 2013 Academy Awards, Autodesk tweeted facts about its customers and its role in creating visual effects for Oscar-winning movies. The company's dedicated social media team (@AutodeskHelp on Twitter) engages and supports customers through social channels.

2 Whole Foods Market

Best Companies rank: 44
Social media used: 
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blogs

2013 was the year of social media customer service for Whole Foods Market (WFM). The company established a team dedicated to monitoring its social channels for customer questions, concerns, and praise. Whole Foods began training its employees in social on a local level to help stores directly respond to customer service queries. By leveraging its 525+ local social accounts, stores can have a more personal connection to their respective shopper communities.

Whole Foods also used social media in 2013 to educate shoppers on GMOs. When Whole Foods made an announcement in March that it would begin labeling GMOs, it received a lot of customer questions and feedback over its social channels. Whole Foods used the feedback to help inform an internal initiative on customer education to answer the frequently asked questions.

3 Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

Best Companies rank: 21
Social media used: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs, Google+, LinkedIn

Last year Kimpton created a social listening desk, which included three people dedicated to listening to what people were saying about Kimpton and to look for opportunities to engage with customers. The workload grew so quickly that another person was quickly added to the team, which focuses on individual experiences. For example, one guest tweeted that she was enjoying Kimpton's Hotel La Jolla, but mentioned she was feeling under the weather. The social listening desk routed the tweet immediately to the hotel team and they delivered a bowl of soup, warm tea, and a get well card to her room. The social listening desk also keeps an eye out for guests' milestone events, like birthdays and anniversaries. A Kimpton pastry chef prepared a cake for a guest's 50th birthday. Guests can also find secret passwords over social that, if mentioned at check-in, can lead to surprises like a free upgrade, a drink voucher at the adjacent restaurant bar, or a free bottle of wine or champagne.

Kimpton also uses social media to connect its employees and promote collaboration. Two groups in particular, the Kimpton Women's Group (KWG) and the Kimpton Lesbian/Gay/ Bi/ Transgender & Friends Employee network (KGLEN), have made strides in the area of diversity. A subcommittee of KGLEN called KPRIDE, for instance, leads the company's annual marketing efforts in the LBGT community. Social media also helps Kimpton with its recruiting efforts. Its Twitter handle, @Kimpton_Careers, and its Kimpton Careers Facebook page are used to tweet and post about open jobs.

4 Boston Consulting Group

Best Companies rank: 3
Social media used: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+

As a large global company, Boston Consulting Group uses social media as a way to distribute content to employees, recruits, and partners, as well as a tool of business development. BCG's strategy is to look at social media from an experience point of view across desktop, mobile, and talent.

In 2013, BCG saw a shift in the importance of Facebook in the social media portfolio, and instead started to focus more on Twitter and LinkedIn. BCG uses LinkedIn to get products out to its audiences, share content, and recruit for new talent, and Twitter has been a source of sharing content as well as interacting with followers. In addition to traditional networking sites, BCG has also become interested in the use of apps like Flipboard and Pulse, which aggregate content.


Best Companies rank: 7
Social media used: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, Blogs

Salesforce's (CRM) corporate social accounts (including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube) saw a follower increase of more than 90 percent in 2013, with a recent count of 709,037. Its annual conference, Dreamforce, broke previous social media engagement records in 2013 as it monitored more than 136,000 mentions in four days, a 45 percent increase over the previous year.

6 Intuit

Best Companies rank: 8
Social media used: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube

In 2013, Intuit (INTU) launched a PR and marketing program called Small Business Big Game ( The year-long social campaign enrolled tens of thousands of small businesses in an online contest. Intuit engaged hundreds of thousands of small business fans in online voting and earned more than 8 billion impressions in social and traditional media channels. The program culminates on Feb. 2 when Intuit plans to award one distinguished small business its own SuperBowl television ad.

Intuit's award-winning TurboTax AnswerXchange, which boasts 15 million users, enables customers to get answers to their questions from experts and other customers with similar tax situations. Its customer care team provides support on Facebook and Twitter . And, in addition to brand building and awareness efforts, Intuit's PR team uses social content on the TurboTax blog, Facebook and other platforms to generate more than $6 million in incremental revenue for the business.

7 Genentech

Best Companies rank: 6
Social media used: Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Google+

Genentech uses social media to connect employees with senior leadership, company news, and each other. On of its most successful features is commenting and rating on an intranet. Employees are able to comment anonymously (or not) and thumbs-up each others' comments. By opening up news to anonymous review and response, Genentech tries to take the pulse of employee attitudes on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

In addition to commenting and review, employees use social tools for fun. The company intranet has a multimedia section where they can upload photos and videos — the highlight of which is a photo gallery titled "the way we work," which includes examples of pranks Genentech's employees play on each other after a return from a sabbatical, one of Genentech's more unique perks. In 2014, employees will be able to rate the lunch options at the company's various cafeterias.

8 American Express

Best Companies rank: 67
Social media used: Facebook, FourSquare, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram

American Express (AXP) uses social media as a medium for enabling commerce by connecting card members with millions of merchant partners. In 2012 American Express enabled card members to seamlessly load special merchant offers to their cards via hashtags on Twitter. Last March, American Express launched the ability to tweet special hashtags to make purchases. At launch, customers could buy products from companies like Sony, Amazon, and Microsoft.

American Express also partnered with TripAdvisor so customers could sync cards to their TripAdvisor profiles and load special offers to their cards, and they can access lists of card member hotspots in popular travel destinations based on the American Express spend graph data. It also indicates when a card member has made a transaction at a place he or she reviewed.

9 Mars

Best Companies rank: 76
Social media used: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube

Mars releases an annual corporate social responsibility report each July that examines its sustainability practices. In 2013, Mars hosted a live Twitter chat about sustainability in an effort to be more transparent and solicit unfiltered feedback. And last year saw a shift toward visual content creation, with more animation and infographics posted on YouTube and LinkedIn. In the year ahead, the company plans to ramp up short form videos for Vine.