LONDON--Organisations need to demonstrate courage and compassion if they hope to resonate with people across social media channels, according to a new study.

The Social Brands 100, carried out by social media agency Headstream in partnership with monitoring firm Brandwatch, analysed the online engagement of over 300 brands. The ranking took 19 separate factors into account, featuring a combination of metrics for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, Google+ and blogging.

It found that charities occupy half of the top six positions on the list, which Brandwatch CEO Giles Palmer puts down to a lack of fear on their part.

“This is best summed up by the not-for-profit and charity organisations, who are leading the way because they’re not afraid to be human online and to interact with real people, as real people,” said Palmer.

Palmer added that successful social media engagement involved listening rather than focusing too much on “responding to every tweet or comment.” Brands, he said, “need to filter conversations to identify what really matters.”

While smoothie brand Innocent topped the ranking, Cancer Research UK, British Red Cross and ARKive all featured in a top six that also included Starbucks and Giffgaff.

“It feels like not a day goes by without a new ‘game changing’ platform or technology appearing, and it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that it is people who are at the heart of social media,” said Headstream head of agency Steve Sponder. “All of the brands in the Social Brands 100 have found some of the best ways so far to become part of the ‘people’s media’ in a transparent and compelling way.”

The study found that, of the brands analysed, there was 100% adoption of Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, as Facebook continues to experience significant growth, charities such as the RSPB (ranked third for its use of Facebook) have experienced particular success over the past year with their presence on the world’s biggest social network.