10 Brands to Watch in Social Media for 2009

I recently came across a study conducted by Immediate Future, a UK PR firm, that analyzed the Interband Top 100 brands and arranged them in order of social media share of voice. From this list I’ve picked ten industry leading brands that I believe will have an impact on social media in 2009. What do all of these brands have in common that makes them a potential social media giant? They’re a leader in their industry, they have directors or senior managers who have a Twitter account, and they have a blog or some type of forum for customers to interact. Below you will find the company’s current social media efforts along with the individuals that have a Twitter account for their respective company.


While the bailout and economic troubles in Detroit tend to be the focus on the auto industry, the social media efforts Ford is creating is refreshing. Saying no to the government’s bailout is one thing, but engaging and participating in Twitter the manner Digital and Multimedia Communications Director Scott Monty does is worth reporting. The innovative Ford Digital Snippets is the platform Ford uses for social media press releases. This enables consumers to comment and ask questions pertaining to each and every press release they issue. A video heavy company news site, The Ford Story, has been at the forefront for distributing all of the company and Washington DC updates. Scott Monty also uses his own blog, a social media marketing blog, to give his own perspective on Ford with a social media twist. Ford has a long way to go, but they’ve separated themselves from the other US auto makers and their use of social media in 2009 may make Toyota start to sweat.

Twitter users: Scott Monty


Intel recently took a gigantic step in the right direction with the creation of Intel’s Social Media Guidelines. In a day and age where anyone in the company can use social media it’s important to set the do’s and don’ts of social media engagement. From the sheer number of Twitter users, which you can see below, making sure all social media users represents the company in a unified fashion will only enhance their brand’s reputation. Intel’s Blog section covers all departments and several international sites to inform the public of company news. Displaying news on these blogs allows consumers to connect and give their own reactions. The Intel Software Network is a great platform for developers and engineers to connect. We know Intel is the industry leader for processors, but a great social media plan in 2009 they might knock AMD out for good.

Twitter Users: Josh Bancroft, Amy Barton, Michael Brito, Kelly Feller, Ken Kaplan, Jeff Moriarty, Ajay Mungara Bill Pearson, Bryan Rhoades, Annie Rodkins, Aaron Tersteeg,


An established social media community, the Dell Community, allows employees and customers to connect and learn any and everything about Dell. With forums, blogs, videos, wikis, groups, and more Dell has one of the most dynamic corporate communities on this list. Ideadstorm is a one of a kind community where brainstorming is conducted through the consumer. Dell has also launched the non-branded Digital Nomads a community to share ideas and connect with other technology fans. Dell has to do something to counter Apple’s strangle on the computing world. A social media push in 2009 might just be what the doctor ordered.

Twitter Users: Richard Binhammer, Lionel Menchaca, Amie Paxton, Robert Peek, John Pope


As dynamic a company you’ll find Microsoft enables their users to connect, provide suggestions, and learn through the Microsoft Communities. Each product has a separate technical community to allow troubled customers to get their most urgent questions answered. Microsoft also has their own bookmarking system, similar to Delicious, called MSDN Social and their own open source hosting site called CodePlex. Countless blogs, too many to post here, also exist by employees in an effort to engage the Microsoft community. Expect for Google and Microsoft to duke it out as they compete for Internet supremacy with social media being the main event.

Twitter Users: Jeremiah Andrick, Filiberto Selvas, Marc Sirkin, Mel Carson


Duncan Wardle’s media relations presentation in early 2008 set the standard for Disney’s social media efforts. Disney’s family community, Mom’s panel, and Dad’s community is a great start towards reaching out beyond just kids. Various blogs from various communities gives everyone in the family a voice. Overall Disney is putting parents at ease with a safe, Myspace like, site that everyone in the family can use. It will be fun to watch all of Wardle’s ideas begin to unfold at the magical kingdom in 2009.

Twitter Users: Thomas Smith


Nokia, in previous years, set the precedent they were going to pioneer mobile social media with the purchase of Twango, Enpocket, Loudeye and the mapping company Navteq. They continued that trend in 2008 by purchasing Zurich and Berlin-based social networking service Plazes. The creation of Ovi, N-Gage, and MOSH has promoted Nokia to the front of the mobile industry. Nokia currently connects with users through the blog Nokia Conversations. Nokia has vowed to lead the circular entertainment phenomenon. 2009 could be that year they break through.

Twitter Users: RSS for Blog, Russell Beattie, Jussi-Pekka Erkkola, Richard French, Ian Kennedy, Karl Long, Charlie Schick, David Wharton


With the acquisition of Flux and the creation of the Campus Daily Guide MTV, with the help of Viacom, will attempt to become the overall leader of social media content and users. MTV already captures prime demographics, now it’s a matter of controlling and funneling those users to their social media sources. Viacom, which is the parent company of MTV, owns over 1,300 sites which boosts 7.5 million users. Facebook and Myspace currently have the most users online, but with the help of Viacom, MTV looks poised to make a move in 2009.

Twitter Users: Julie Allen, Kieran Hawe


Amazon.com could be considered one big social media network with products you can buy. Reviews, forums, recommendations, and more. The buying experience is the number one priority of Amazon.com. The customer communities allow customers to share their passion with their community. It will be interesting to see what Amazon.com does in 2009, because you know something big is always on the horizon with them.

Twitter Users: Werner Vogels


If there’s anyone wondering how an additional car company could make it on this list look no further than the Scion Speak website. Toyota, understanding their demographics, has created a community entirely around specific models of their cars. The Scion is a perfect example of the trend setting ideas that Toyota is using. The build your own car part of their website has quickly become a must for any car company. Toyota also hosts a dynamic blog with Toyota TV just in case you wanted to watch a commercial or two. Ford is making a strong push, but Toyota’s own efforts could seal the deal for the car industry leader of social media in 2009.

Twitter Users: Scott DeYager


Did you really think that a list pertaining to anything in the Internet would not include Google? Every service and application has a forum and group to interact and ask questions within the community. For example Google also has OpenSocial a community for developers that will only help enhance Google’s products. Chatting, blogging, videos, and more Google has everything you can imagine. Updates and new technologies are released almost on a weekly basis. With 2009 pointing towards a big year for social media you can bet that Google will be in on the mix.

Twitter Users: Dick Costolo, Matt Cutts, Avinash Kaushik, Rick Klau, Adam Lasnik, Steve Weis, Brian White,

Feel free to add any brands you believe will be a social media force with a comment below.

23 thoughts on “10 Brands to Watch in Social Media for 2009

  1. Glad to see Nokia picked up in an article about social media, I think for many people in the web 2.0 community underestimate the impact that Nokia can have on the next iteration of the web. There are 1 billion people who have a Nokia phone right now, and they ship about 1/2 a billion new phones a year, over 1 million phones per day, and these devices are increasingly including web browsers. The sleeping giant IMHO though is SMS, it’s probably the most ubiquitous communication technology on the planet and it’s being used to great effect in small areas right now.

    Being a heavy user of twitter i’m also gaining tremendous value from SMS integration, twitter in many ways has become a proxy to my cell phone. I follow over 2,000 people on twitter and any of them can direct message me which goes straight to my cell phone, and they don’t need my number. Increasingly services are going to add SMS features as they and customers understand it’s utility, and acceptable use. Twitter demonstrates an amazing opt in and filtering model which companies would do well to study.


  2. I’m confident Marvel Entertainment will make a bigger social media splash in ’09. In 2008 we launched efforts on Twitter (Twitter.com/Marvel), Facebook, YouTube, FriendFeed and CoverItLive.
    We’re the proven leader in comic books and our presence in video games and movies has never been bigger. We’re constantly looking for new ways to interact with our fans and our audience.
    -Ryan Penagos
    Editor, Marvel.com

  3. Much of this post is covering the obvious I think, sure there will be more big brand plays on social media. However the real movers and shakers of 09 will be more niche brands that follow in Zappos foot steps embracing social media- mainly through the use of twitter, facebook and whatever other future niche networks pop up as forces to contend with in 09.

    Amazon will continue to dominate the dev side, and be a beacon for consumer. Dell will do more in the ideastorm space. Same with Starbucks with mystarbucksidea etc, Ford and GM will tap the crowdsource sphere as well and try and do as much damage control they can on getting back on the consumers radar.

    Wendys, BurgerKing and McDonalds will all make big advances on social media, as will popular casual dining- especially on the mobile scene.

    Nokia will buy Yahoo and collaborate with Adobe on a new phone os platform. (ok thats my crazy idea but i think it holds much promise!)

    Google will go government focus and get in bed as close to Obama as they can. They will chime in on energy, IT, and online education reform, and will get noticed and a certain amount of play.

    Microsoft needs to buy something, invent a new wheel or make some big splashes to get noticed. Lately it looks like they are going the open source friendly route, which may get them some love from hardcore folks, but I seriously doubt it.

  4. @dan rockwell IMHO I think Nokia should invest in globalizing social media business models that work well, and can be expanded to SMS and small web browsers. Nokia is probably one of the most global companies in the world and ships more hardware to more places in the world than any other company.

    @doctor_V yes, very few fortune 500 companies comprehend how social media is going to change every aspect of their business.

  5. Nice list Jesse and thanks for including Microsoft.

    From an advertising perspective http://www.adcentercommunity.com is very much the hub of our online efforts to support advertisers.

    Lee kindly shouted out my Twitter handle – he’ll be featuring on our site next year with other leading authorities as we believe in helping marketers get the best from the web and don’t just want them to take our word for it.

    Take care and all the best for the holiday season!

    Cheers Mel

  6. Hi Jesse,
    What a great list! And thanks for the shout out to Intel. I’m very proud to work for a company that continues to explore how to enable and encourage all their employees to socialize online on behalf of the company.

  7. Wow! Nice way of pulling together this group of companies and individuals. I’m thrilled to see may Intel pals listed with the likes of Nokia, Dell, MTV and other companies I admire. Many of the people listed here are sharing their own blend of discipline, dedication and personality…and they’re moving their companies to become more open, accessible, interesting and fun. Bravo! Best wishes for the New Year!

  8. nice list – and interesting words. thanks for the mtv shout out.
    it’s great to be included on such a list… stay tuned for 2009 – and lots of mtv social media action!

  9. Jesse,
    1st of all thank you for commenting on my blog! That brought me here and I was excited to see such good content. THis post is actually just what I needed for a new client/partner of mine. I’m involved in things where I run the show and where my name is my business, but in helping an existing company get it’s brand into the social media world, I have to look at it from a whole different angle.

    Anyone have some suggestions?

  10. Hi Jesse,
    Good story. I think all companies are slowly starting to realize that it is critical to let their employees be visible/accessible online. Thanks for mentioning Intel. I am really proud to work for a company that encourages online participation.

  11. Nice round-up Jesse, great work!

    What would be great to hear from those that you have name-checked is how these brands are putting customer engagement (feedback) to work for them, such as in developing new product and service innovations.

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