The Week's Top 20 in Social Media

Every week we're taking a tally of who's getting heard, what they're saying, and why it matters. This week: 

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The social media sphere is an increasingly noisy place, especially for brands. But hiding somewhere in the static are strong signals from companies reaching their customers in innovative ways. The Social Business Index from Dachis Group provides a (free) real-time ranking of more than 30,000 global brands based on their social performance. Every week we're taking a tally of who's getting heard, what they're saying, and why it matters.

Movements up and down the Social Business Index are pretty evenly split this week. News Corp. and National Amusements remained in the top two slots, while companies like Mars and Facebook were able to take short leapfrogs over Vivendi and Google. But the total makeup of the top 20 largely remained the same. Further down the index came companies that had to get creative in order to set themselves apart in what was otherwise a fairly run-of-the-mill week. Microsoft pushed itself into the top 40 by teasing new products. Netflix somewhat problematically dealt with disgruntled customers -- they must be pretty used to this problem by now. And it didn't take Fiat much effort to get excited about the fastest street-legal car it's ever produced.

We've always thought it was somewhat surprising that Microsoft doesn't rank higher on the Social Business Index, but they're making some moves lately with a bit of long overdue innovation. Rising 16 ranks to No. 38, the company created a good amount of buzz after releasing a consumer preview of Windows 8, a new version of the old operating system that people actually seem excited about. One day and a million downloads later, Microsoft was stoking the excitement on its myriad Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, and YouTube channels. The company enjoyed even more engagement, however, through its Xbox accounts. Facebook tends to win the most attention, Microsoft releases previews of new games that are also posted on YouTube and promoted on Twitter. The cross-platform approach works. The games themselves are built to be social thanks to the Xbox Live network, and so fans are programmed to start talking about them before they come out. "The YouTube video [for Mass Effect 3 on Xbox 360] drove 43,000 views, making it one of Xbox's most-viewed videos, and the recent Facebook posts around Mass Effect 3 garnered close to 3,000 likes," Dachis analyst Alison Squires tells us. "Who wouldn't want to direct their battle squad using voice command to fight war against a force that took over Earth, and then talk about it online with their social circles and on the brand's channels?"

It's sometimes unclear whether moving up the ranks in the Social Business Index is because of good chatter or bad chatter. In the case of Netlix this week, it appears to be the latter -- at first. Netflix won a seven-rank promotion, landing at No. 82, but it lost some of its best new releases and all Disney movies after its contract with Starz expired. However, anticipating some negative reactions, the company kicked its social media strategy into high gear and started promoting the classic movies it still had in its streaming library. This helped encourage some engagement on Facebook and Twitter, though Netflix stopped short of addressing the concerns about Starz. "Many followers have commented on the expired contract and what it means to their movie streaming," explained Shadi Afshar at the Dachis Group. "Is it a mistake that Netflix hasn’t leveraged its 2.9 million Facebook fans or 151,000 Twitter followers to talk about or quell concerns over the loss of hundreds of films?" As far as we're concerned, yes.

This one's a no brainer. Fiat owns Ferrari; Ferrari releases the F12berlinetta, its fastest street car ever; Fiat wins the attention and conversation of auto aficionados around the world and jumps up 15 ranks to land at No. 100. What's more thoughtful, however, is how Fiat did it. "While only a few very special and wealthy car enthusiasts will actually be able to experience the adrenaline rush of driving such a beautifully designed car, priced around $310,000, the brand caters to millions of fans and advocates across its social channels," Afshar told us. "Using a Save the Date concept, the brand counted down the days until February 29, and then posted a link for fans to explore the new design." This means that everybody can gawk at the (very expensive) new car as much as they want. After all, YouTube view is free.

Methodology: A project of the Dachis Group, a social business professional services group, the Social Business Index analyzes the conversations on social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and others. The index, which currently covers approximately 25,0000 companies and 27,000 brands, detects behaviors and activities exhibited by these companies and analyzes their execution and effectiveness at driving outcomes such as brand awareness, brand love, mind share, and advocacy. The Atlantic Wire takes a snapshot of the rankings at the end of the day on Sundays.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.