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.

Scores were up by about a hundred points across the board on the Social Business Index this week, with Google holding on to a steady lead in the No. 1 position. Coca-Cola rose to No. 2, as Thomson Reuters slid back into No. 4. Walt Disney broke into the top ten for the first time in a while, and Sony floated into the top twenty. However, the interesting moves happened further down the rankings, with The Washington Post Company surging into the top 30 with the help of a killer Facebook app and lots of hands-on Twitter engagement. Amazon deserves an honorable mention with a 27 rank rise to No. 56 in the lead up to Black Friday shopping deals, and Ford who rocketed 40 spots after aggressively pursuing influences at Blogworld L.A.

Walt Disney made the most progress in the top twenty, climbing 9 spots to No. 9. The media and entertainment giant has always been a trailblazer on the social front — Disney bought the first ever Twitter ad last July — and their efforts to stay out in front of trends appears to be paying off. Leading up to this week's surge, ESPN, of which Disney owns an 80 percent stake, saw a 200 percent increase in proactive engagement. Disney announced a new kind of original content partnership with YouTube this week. The announcement coincided with a Google+ Hangout with the Muppets. The fuzzy puppets could have provided the real lift, however, with the viral impact of a campaign on Facebook that Muppets should host the Oscars. The rumors picked up steam because Disney-owned ABC is broadcasting the Oscars, and since Disney also owns the Muppets franchise, tens of thousands of fans flocked to promote the idea of a Muppet-hosted Oscars ceremony. For Disney, it was a perfect storm of brand love.

The Washington Post has set itself apart on the social front in the past year, but it's innovative efforts have really started paying off in recent weeks. This week, the company shot up in the index to No. 26., largely on the back of its flagship newspaper brand. Katharine Zaleski, executive director of digital news at The Washington Post, attributes the brands' recent success to the hands-on approach of the paper's social media team, who work seven days a week not necessarily to promote Washington Post content but really to engage with readers. "I think we're probably one of the few large news operations that has a completely manually feed," Zaleski told The Atlantic Wire. "[Social media producers] T.J. Ortenzy and Mark Luckie are pretty much spending their days talking and engaging with users on Twitter." On the Facebook front, the paper has enthusiastically embraced the new social class of apps with the Washington Post Social Reader, a one-of-a-kind portal that provides a completely personalized way to read content from all of the Washington Post Company's many brands as well a growing number of content partners on Facebook. They're being aggressive with the experiment, which was built by the WaPo Labs, the company's R&D department, and powered by Trove technology. "Pretty much any Washington Post link that goes online goes to our Social Reader," Zaleski said. "If we're gonna do a project like this which took a lot of time and energy to do — effectively a project that's presenting a really different way for people to read the news — we go all in on it."

 

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 takes a snapshot of the rankings at the close of business on Thursdays.