Social gets personal: Innocent tops Social Brands 100

Here’s our official press release:

Innocent, the food and drinks brand, has claimed number one position in the Social Brands 100 (, the authoritative ranking of brands leading the way in the social age.

Innocent, which made its name with packaging that spoke directly to its customers, is one of over 300 brands nominated following a crowdsourced nomination process on Twitter that took place in January 2012.

Social Brands 100 Top Ten

Rank Parent Brand Industry
1 Innocent FMCG
2 Starbucks Travel & Leisure
3 giffgaff Telecom
4 Cancer Research UK Charity
5 British Red Cross Charity
6 ARKive Charity
7 = Cadbury FMCG
7 = ASOS Retail
9 = The Ellen DeGeneres Show Entertainment
9 = Met Office Services

The report found that the best performing brands have a genuine, human voice on social platforms and aren’t afraid to get personal.

“It feels like not a day goes by without a new ‘game changing’ platform or technology appearing, and it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that it is people who are at the heart of social media,” says Steve Sponder, Head of Agency at Headstream, the social brand agency that created Social Brands 100.  He adds: “The brands in this ranking have found some of the best ways so far to become part of the ‘people’s media’ in a transparent and compelling way.”

Headstream works in partnership with social media monitoring company Brandwatch. Social Brands 100 measures social performance across a series of markers that demonstrate that the brand is building two-way relationships with its community, engaging in active listening, and behaving in an appropriate way in social spaces.

A panel of industry experts also contributed to the scoring, including Paul Coffey from Google, Bruce Daisley from Twitter, Sean Mahdi from PwC as well as representatives from the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) and IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising).

“Defining a brand as ‘social’ can be both complex and subjective. Every brand is different and customers want to interact with them in different ways. This year we have been able to dig deeper than ever before into our data to analyse brand and consumer interaction at a per post level. Our new techniques in data mining give us valuable insights into how, when and where interaction takes place. Add in Headstream’s social algorithm and desk research and the result is a definitive measure on brand sociability, which crosses industries and sizes of business. We are proud to be part of it,” says Giles Palmer, CEO, Brandwatch.

Other notable findings:

  • A 4% drop in the use of foursquare since 2011, indicating that the use of geo-location platforms has still not taken off.
  • Charities and not-for-profit organisations are starting to make the most of social media, representing over 25% of the top twenty brands this year.
  • In the 10 months since it launched, 49% of brands have joined Google+ with the same number of brands now present on Pinterest.
  • YouTube appears to be a missed opportunity for many sectors, with the exception of technology brands.

The shortlisted brands will be celebrating the results at an event in London later today (29 May), with a panel discussion involving some of the brands and judges from 4.45pm.  Follow the discussion @socialbrands100 and using #sb100. The report can be downloaded from

To mark the launch of the ranking, Brandwatch has built the Social Brands 100 Wormery (, a data visualisation application that collates conversations around Social Brands 100 (#SB100).

The Wall and Brand Republic are exclusive media partners to the Social Brands 100.

Further Methodology:

For more information on the Social Brands 100 methodology, please visit:

Social Brands 100 – the final ranking

After nine months of planning, and five months of nominating, analysing and judging the Social Brands 100 ranking is live! The full findings are now available to download at We would love to know what you think of this year’s roll call of social brand leaders.

Congratulations to every brand listed, you prevailed over another  200 brands that were put forward at the nomination stage. To be included in the 100 shortlist is an achievement in itself, and the range and quality of brands present this year is superb. The popularity of the crowd-sourced nominations has inevitably resulted in many ‘new entrants’ into the list, and a subsequent reshuffle of brand positions from 2011.

The highest ranking brand this year is Innocent, of smoothies fame, a worthy winner that proves year-in year-out an ability to maintain a personal and human connection with its fans. While there are other household names in the top ten, Cadbury, Starbucks, ASOS, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Cancer Research UK, there are also some less obvious names; The Met Office, ARKive, British Red Cross and giffgaff. This is something Social Brands 100 is proud of.

As outlined in earlier posts to use a methodology that ranks brands from different sectors, and of different sizes, as fairly as possible is our primary concern.

To do this we evolved our 2012 methodology from 2011 in two ways. Firstly, we increased the number of platforms, and metrics from those platforms, collected and analysed. In total we selected nineteen metrics from eight different platforms and carefully ascribed weightings to them that reflect where consumers are (fish where the fish are!), and how platforms are used. This gave us what we call our ‘Data Score’ for each brand (full details are on pages 11 and 43-46 of the Social Brands 100 publication). Secondly, we increased the weighting of the Data Score in relation to our ‘Panel Score’, which is derived from our expert panel of judges scoring each brand. This reflects the increased scope of the Data Score to assess metrics such as effectiveness and value of content posted by brands in social spaces.

Of course, you may well  have your own opinion on the strengths or weaknesses of this methodology to judge your particular brand’s social performance, and consider that certain platforms or weightings could be changed. It is possible to ‘bespoke’ social performance measurement through our subsequent brand specific research. However, the intention of the Social Brands 100 methodology is to find a common ground that indicates whether the fundamental social principles of win-win relationships, active listening and appropriate behaviour are being adopted.

Amongst the insights and highlights from this year’s ranking and analysis are:

  • The highest ranked brands create genuine one-to-one connections with individuals on a consistent basis
  • Charity brands emerge as the best performing sector with three charities in the Top Ten, and over 25% of the top twenty.
  • Google+ made its mark as a new entrant with 49 of the 100 brands adopting the platform
  • foursquare remains a niche platform for the Social Brands 100 with 18% adoption compared to 22% in 2011’s ranking

The top ranked brands by industry sector were;

  • Automotive – Ford
  • Charity – Cancer Research UK
  • Entertainment – The Ellen de Generes Show
  • Fashion and Beauty – Lush
  • Financial Services – Wonga
  • FMCG – Innocent
  • Manufactured goods – Gibson
  • Media – Guinness World Records
  • Retail – ASOS
  • Services – Met Office
  • Technology – HTC
  • Telecom – giffgaff
  • Travel & Leisure – Starbucks

Many of these brands will be joining us at an event to celebrate the Social Brands 100 at 4PM (GMT) today (May 29th). To follow the conversation go to @socialbrands100, and track the #sb100 hashtag. We will be taking questions from Twitter as well as the audience, so please feel free to get involved.

There is a host of additional information, detailed analysis and case studies in the full publication that is available for download, here. What do you think of  the Social Brands 100 ranking this year? We’d love to know!

giffgaff: Talking the talk in social

This is the second of our catch ups with #sb100 brands from last year’s ranking.

giffgaff was one of the top 5 brands in last year’s Social Brands 100, and number 1 amongst telecoms brands.  It could be argued, that giffgaff was born social; it’s a fully independent network run in part by its community. Members are rewarded for contributing to customer service, product development and growing the community, receiving rewards in the form of airtime, cash or a charitable donation.

We spoke with CRM Manager Claire Kavanagh, read the full interview on The Wall.

giffgaff – showing us the future

When you invent a company on social brand principles from scratch, you end up with something like giffgaff.

For those who’ve not heard about giffgaff yet, it’s a mobile network run by its community. The idea is that members get rewarded for running parts of the business like answering customer care questions, getting new members, spreading the word about giffgaff and even developing new products.

Speaking at the packed Digital Surrey event last night, Heather Taylor, Social Media and PR Manager at giffgaff, gave some fascinating insights into the inner workings of a ‘social business’.

Heather’s insights:

  • Founder of giffgaff, Head of Brand Strategy at O2 Gav Thompson, came up with the idea to create ‘the Wikipedia of mobile’ after attending a conference on open source business models.
  • Before launching anything the team went out to the community, and asked them what they would want from a ‘mobile network run by you’. The business was then designed around the feedback.
  • Levels of engagement in the customer forums are much higher than for a traditional mobile model. Some ‘super-users’ in the forum are engaged six hours a day helping others.
  • giffgaff doesn’t focus solely on its owned forums. It views the giffgaff ‘community’ as anywhere online that interactions and comment about giffgaff take place. The company provides tools to allow community members to track these interactions in open networks e.g. its own URL shortening service,
  • Every week the suggestions made by the community are reviewed by the CEO, CFO and exec team. The best ideas are implemented.
  • giffgaff has made its APIs available to the community, and all app development has been led, and completed, by the community.
  • After the community management team at giffgaff handled a network failure crisis in a timely and proactive way, customers turned down offers of compensation, and asked that the money be donated to charity instead.
  • giffgaff believe the model is scaleable. If giffgaff accounted for 25pct of O2’s total customer base, it would save £12.5 mln from annual  customer service costs.

That last point is the real eye-opener. Socially designed businesses can create fundamentally different models, and shift accepted thinking on financial ratios.

The proof of the pudding for giffgaff will be how loyal its customers are in the long term. In these early days the figures aren’t available. But if this business model can also create greater loyalty, leading to the mobile operator’s holy grail of lower churn, then it will be a game-changer.

Heather’s final insight was to wonder what is stopping other businesses adopting these models. She had one word, ‘legacy’.

By that she meant the legacy of existing business systems, and the behavioural legacy of how customers are used to being interacted with. As customers demand that these legacy systems and behaviours shift, we’ll see more giffgaffs, and more disruption to business models.

How would your business look if you re-invented it for social?