How Innocent topped the Social Brands 100

Brandwatch and Headstream launched their Social Brands 100 earlier this week. The report seeks to identify the brands that are leading in their use of social media. This...

Brandwatch and Headstream launched their Social Brands 100 earlier this week. The report seeks to identify the brands that are leading in their use of social media. This is not a case of who has the most fans, followers or mentions, but it looks at the intensity of interactions between the brand and its community, giving smaller brands a chance to compete with the big guns.


What gave Innocent the edge?

It came as little surprise for me to see Innocent come out on top. When I first came across Innocent Smoothies, I remember the personal touches on their packaging and the invitation to call “Fruit Towers” for a chat. The company wanted to engage with their drinkers in a quirky and fun way and they maintained this even as the company grew. Given this approach, it only made sense that these guys were ideally suited to social media, prompting us to write about them back in 2009.

Apparently it was this desire and ability to engage with individuals on a one-to-one basis that really made Innocent stand out. They focused on interacting with their community, rather than simply broadcasting marketing messages.

Also key was their flexible and creative approach; something that big brands with strict guidelines struggle with. Even brands that regularly respond to comments and mentions often fail to put across a human voice, often sounding scripted and impersonal. The team at Innocent seem to understand the spirit of the brand and, as their Communities Manager Joe McEwen put it; they are allowed “a healthy degree of spontaneity”.

According to the report, if low-scoring brands are to improve they must not solely focus on delivering interesting content, they must also be interested in their communities.

You can read the full Social Brands 100 report, including the methodology, full results and rankings by sector here.  For a taster, here are the top 25:

The top 25

  1. Innocent
  2. Starbucks
  3. Giffgaff
  4. Cancer Research UK
  5. British Red Cross
  6. ARKive
  7. ASOS
  8. Cadbury
  9. Met Office
  10. The Ellen DeGeneres Show
  11. HTC
  12. Guinness World Records
  13. Lurpak
  14. Red Bull
  15. Xbox
  16. Manchester City Football Club
  17. WWF
  19. Cravendale
  20. Help for Hereos
  21. KLM
  22. WWE
  23. RSPB
  24. Ford
  25. National Trust

Our Social Times is partnering with Brandwatch to host a webinar discussing social brands and social media monitoring. The date (probably mid-July) and speakers are to be confirmed, but you can pre-register here. It’s free, of course.

In this article


  1. Adam Gray

    Really interesting stuff…surprising some of the brand that were in there though. Innocent/Starbucks/RedBull come as no shock, but some of the others I never would have believed!

    1. Jeremy Taylor

      Charities seemed to do particularly well, but I guess that’s to be expected. Perhaps more impressive is National Rail Enquiries, Chiltern Railways and Virgin Trains all making the top 100. They’re clearly going the right direction with social customer service in the travel industry.

  2. Paul Fennemore

    Yep this is a good call. Those brands who do well already have a culture of openess and transparency  that is called for with social media communications.
    They also focus less on corporate communications in the conventional sense and moved onto community marketing, conversation marketing and influencer marketing strategies. Strategies that I help many firms come to understand even Red Bull who are on the list.

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  5. markkelly333

    I just read a fairly recent interview where Innocent say that use of social media has had no impact at all on sales. Which genuinely surprises me. None? At all? Whether directly or through some oblique route that they maybe haven’t measured fully or modelled correctly? I’m amazed that SM hasn’t helped the bottom line at all. I was trying to find some empirical evidence that refuted that claim and found this article along the way..
    (great blog btw, cheers).

    The article in question:

    1. Jeremy Taylor

      Yet, they obviously think there is some benefit because they clearly invest quite a lot of money into doing it well. I completely understand that attributing direct sales to social media engagement is far from easy, but in terms of share of voice, pr value and customer retention I imagine they’re quite pleased.

      1. markkelly333

        Agreed, cheers Jeremy

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