The social media sphere is an increasingly noisy place, especially for brands. But hiding somewhere in the static, some companies are sending strong signals that reaches their customers in innovative ways. The Dachis Group has recently begun a real-time ranking of which companies have the most effective social strategies with their Social Business Index. Each Friday we're taking a tally of who's getting heard, what they're saying and why it matters.

At the top of the chart again this week were the giants of new media followed by the giants of old media: Facebook edging out Google for No. 1, with News Corp. -- and all its international media brands -- in the No. 3 spot. Time Warner rose two places in the rankings to finish just behind at No. 4. But rounding out the top twenty are big-name marketers or fashion, food and retail. "Apparel, or fashion in general, and beverage are social superstars," said Dachis Group CTO Erik Huddleston. "Brand Marketing dominates social. Those guys are the Brand Marketing ninjas." Here are some of the stories behind this week's chart:

  • No. 8: Nike Sprints Ahead of Adidias

In the social battle of the shoe giants, Nike edged up two places while Adidas dropped two to No. 10 on the heels of the Beaverton-based company's wildly buzz-worthy limited run of the Back to the Future shoes to benefit the Michael J. Fox Parkinson's Foundation. As a launch partner for Facebook's new lifestyle apps, it looks like Nike powerhouse brand is establishing itself as the leading sports company on the social web. "It looks like Nike is starting to pull away," said Huddleston.  "Adidas is so much smaller in engaged audience but they do so much more to interact." With Nike's new Facebook app, you can more seamlessly tell your friends about your athletic accomplishments. According to Nike's global brand chief Jesse Stollack, being the first try new techniques is paying off. "The future will have new tools and methods and Nike will continue to push the edges," Stollack told Mashable this week. "This intersection between the physical and the digital is where we see the future and that intersection will be game-changing." 

  • No. 13: People Are Fascinated by Coca-Cola's New Interactive YouTube Game

Coca-Cola advanced 12 spots in this week's Social Business Index with a a successful interactive video that sets you off on a confusing hunt for clues to learn more about Coke's secret formula. Remember earlier this year when This American Life revealed Coke's secret formula--or rather that it was actually revealed in a 1979 newspaper article? It was a buzzy story that the company's marketing team has now turned into an arty, social media campaign: Unlock the Secret Formula. Though the campaign is stirring up buzz on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, its definitely worth checking out on YouTube because there's nothing like a confusing mystery to get people talking online.

  • No. 16: Burberry Is Hosting Fashion Week Parties on Facebook

After jumping seven spots in the Social Business Index rankings last week, they continued to climb this week. For all of their fans that couldn't go to the real parties at London Fashion Week, Burberry is providing backstage access on their social media channels, mostly Facebook. After giving away millions of free samples of Burberry Body perfume to people who Like the brand on Facebook, the company posted behind-the-scenes videos of  chief creative officer Christopher Bailey preparing for the show, livestreamed the runway show on their brand page and kept the momentum going by posting videos and photos of their new Prorsum line daily.  "Burberry is best in class," said Huddleston. "I wish I could understand it, but women just love these guys."

  • No. 19: Best Buy Is Having a Hard Time Bridging the Digital Divide

After climbing two ranks last week on the momentum of its partnership with game makers Zynga, Best Buy fell four places this week. The electronics retailer looks like they're crossing their wires a bit when it comes to matching their online presence with actual in-store experiences. In Zynga's CityVille, an interesting marketing campaign invited players to drop Best Buy stores in their virtual worlds and watch Geek Squad cars drive around them. But bnet's Erik Sherman suggests that they're still looking for the right formula. "Best Buy often touts its ability to integrate web- and store-based commerce," he writes. "The only problem, as I discovered recently, is that is doesn't seem to have the slightest clue of how to actually pull it off."

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 othrs. The index, which currently covers approximately 25,0000 companies and 27,000 brands, detects behaviors and activities exhibited by these companies, analyzes their execution and effectiveness at driving outcomes such as brand awareness, brand love, mind share, and advocacy. The Atlantic Wire's takes a snapshot of the rankings at the close of business on Thursdays.