Social media is here to stay, and despite the fact that questions still
linger over the role of SM and its ROI, major corporations,
many which are often slowest to adopt new technologies, are increasingly
embracing a more social internet.

But that doesn’t mean that the world’s largest companies are ready to
promote their social media efforts on their homepage. According to an
AdAge article by B.L. Ochman, six in ten Fortune 50 companies aren’t
promoting their social media accounts on their homepages.

Depending on where you sit, that may or may not be a surprising observation. But it raises an interesting question: does social media deserve greater prominence on homepages? That’s not an easy question to answer until you answer the question: what role does social media play in our business?

In many cases, a strong argument could be made that Fortune 50 companies shouldn’t give top billing to their social media accounts. Case in point: Verizon. Ochman comments on the wireless company:

You have to dig down through the teeny “About Us” link at the bottom of the company’s home page to find — the third link from the home page — links to Verizon’s outstanding and robust social media presence.

Robust? Certainly. Outstanding? Perhaps. One thing is certain, however: unless you’re a social media nut, Verizon’s social media page is most likely to be one thing: overwhelming if not downright confusing.

On Twitter, for instance, Verizon has accounts for headlines, careers, deals, support and various service offerings. Which ones should be promoted on its homepage? How should they be promoted so that they’re meaningful and useful?

These questions aren’t merely academic: the homepage is one of the most important pages on a website, if not the most important page on a website.

If you’re going to divert homepage traffic to Facebook, Twitter and other social media destinations, you had better make sure that you know what you’re doing. Make a mistake and you’re not just losing valuable traffic, you’re potentially creating poor experiences that turn off customers and stakeholders.

From this perspective, the fact that the majority of the Fortune 50 homepages don’t feature social media icons hints that the people responsible for them are approaching social media thoughtfully.

Unfortunately, that may be an oversimplistic analysis. According to Ochman, 40% of the Fortune 50 homepages sport a Twitter icon, and 30% sport a Facebook icon. Only 4% feature links to company blogs.

While audience isn’t everything, the slight preference for Twitter over Facebook is somewhat curious, and the fact that only 4% of the Fortune 50 homepages include a link to a company blog suggests that many social media strategies in the Fortune 50 may be too focused on external social media as opposed to owned social media.

This is despite the fact that owned social media, such as blogs, offers some of the more meaningful opportunities for meaningful communication.