Combining analytics with expertise to rank brand influence

1 Activity

how often brands talk about sustainability across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram.

2 Engagement

the rates of interaction (such as retweets, shares, comments, favourites) with sustainability-related posts.

3 Reach

The total audience size on the 'social media' profiles across the five platforms.

This proprietary methodology is driven by both data and expert insight as it combines raw social media metrics with manual analysis to identify the sustainability posts and score influence.

The Process

1 Selecting companies for inclusion


An initial long-list of 250+ businesses was compiled and then refined using a combination of:

  • Leading sustainability rankings and ratings.
  • Customised social media listening for activity on sustainability issues
  • A sense-check for companies recognised for addressing sustainability issues through their strategy and/or activities.

Producing a final list of 128 companies to be analysed

2 Finding and screening relevant profiles


For all 128 companies our sustainability experts identified and screened over 730 social media profiles to find group level profiles across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram that discussed sustainability. These included:

  • Social channels for their sustainability strategy (such as Nestlé’s CSV YouTube channel)
  • Profiles of notable individuals shared sustainability content on behalf of their company (such as BT CSO Niall Dunne’s Twitter)
  • Profiles dedicated to specific issues within a broader sustainability strategy (e.g. Sky Academy’s Twitter)
  • Corporate profiles that provided a mix of sustainable and non-sustainable conversation and content

We excluded local or country-specific social handles where these existed, as well as product-brand channels and those with no content in English.

Profiles and companies that made no reference towards sustainability during a six-month timeframe were then excluded from the analysis, leaving 420 relevant profiles for analysis.

3 Assessment and analysis


All profiles were then analysed by our experts to find relevant sustainability content over a six-month time period (July-December 2014). In all, over 150,000 tweets, status updates and posts were categorised.


4 Defining Sustainability Relevance


We recognise that interpretations of 'what sustainability is' can differ wildly. We have defined this topic as being where a business is considering the long-term impact and role they may have within society.

This includes instances where businesses are evaluating the impact they have on the environment, people, their supply chain and natural resources.

We have also captured where businesses are looking at their products and services at every stage of their use. So this includes the R&D of a product or service, how it is being manufactured, its core ingredients and the impact those products or services have in people’s lives.

Finally, we also have captured where businesses consider the role they play in the context of broader global challenges such as health, poverty, economic development and climate change.

Notable exclusions

We excluded content that referenced philanthropic initiatives or charitable activities on the basis that these were not material to the company’s business activities or strategy, unless the initiative referenced a broader societal megatrend such as food shortages or malnutrition caused by consumption trends and changing agricultural practices.

  • We also excluded content on companies’ employee benefits, including skills development when it focused on talent retention and recruitment. We included content referencing employees where the emphasis was on wellbeing, diversity, and issues that were material to the company.
  • Content that discussed innovations and/or R&D were excluded unless they referred to solving a broader sustainability issue, e.g. reducing packaging or emissions.

5 Calculating the scores


Rankings have been awarded based on analysis of three attributes of successful use of social media for sustainability influence: Activity, Engagement and Reach. Companies are rated on these attributes and then the overall score is the sum of these individual components.


We counted the number of sustainability-themed posts across all platforms and ranked all brands in order to establish the most and least active. We then assigned a score from 0 to 40 based on a logarithmic scale, so the increase in activity required to score the next point increases at a steady rate.


We calculated the average number of interactions (i.e. likes, favourites, retweets, shares and comments) per sustainability-themed post, and combined this with a measure of the brand’s Twitter mentions, weighted according to the proportion of their content that is sustainability-themed. Brands were ranked in order and assigned a score from 0 to 35, again based on a logarithmic scale.


We counted the number of followers across all relevant channels and assigned a score from 0 to 25 based on a logarithmic scale.

The weightings that we have assigned to each of the attributes (Activity: 40; Engagement: 35; Reach: 25) give a possible maximum score of 100.