Is it Important for CEOs to be Active on Social Media?
My answer to this question is a resounding YES! Social media is here to stay and is only becoming more and more critical to our communication systems. While I believe there are some legitimate concerns, they are far outweighed by the benefits.
According to recent research by CEO.com – 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence at all. That means of 500 CEOs only 19 have accounts on Twitter and only five of them have ever posted a tweet. Now I’m sure some of you are scoffing because why would a successful CEO worry about Twitter. They have people for that, right? Well I’m sure they do, however there is a huge missed opportunity for CEO’s who are not leveraging social media to help their company.
Now most studies I found list LinkedIn as the one social media outlet they do participate in, which isn’t surprising. This is a key tool for networking with other professionals and colleagues. It is also one of the most professional and structured for business interactions and therefore the “safest”.
When we step outside of just the Fortune 500 companies and look at CEO’s across America, 50% use Twitter, 47% use LinkedIn, 45% use Facebook. So if you are a CEO, what are the benefits that could entice you into committing to using these powerful tools and what is keeping you from taking the leap? Why should you choose to be a connected CEO?
Grow the company brand and give it a more human connection.
- 2/3 of consumers say their perceptions of CEO’s impact their perceptions of a company! When a CEO chooses to engage customers, vendors, employees, and the public as the face of the company he/she has the opportunity to humanize the brand and give people someone to relate to. Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Group is a dynamite example of being a relatable face of his company. If you are concerned about the possible PR implications of interacting directly with the public, take some lessons from your PR departments and stay connected with them to understand what is going to help and hinder the public image.
Attract and retain high quality employees.
- 4 in 5 employees say they would rather work for a “social CEO”. Being connected and interacting with the public allows a CEO to communicate that they are more approachable and innovative (and by extension their company is as well). Honestly it means that we as CEO’s are taking the time to learn about and interact on the new communication channels. We are sending out the message that we are relevant. Social media is not just for “young people” anymore. If we are going to lead and develop our staff, part of that is meeting them where they are and learning to communicate with mediums they understand and value. The days of the ivory tower are quickly disappearing and the successful CEOs are figuring this out and adapting.
Your customers want to engage with you and your company! Social media gives them the opportunity to do that.
- There is a wealth of feedback available now that was historically gathered through surveys, forms, and lengthy interview processes. CEOs now have the unique ability to be part of providing customer service and bringing a level of transparency that is fast becoming critical to companys’ growth. Many CEOs are wary of getting involved and feel that interaction on that level is too risky. Again, there are processes that can be put into place with a company’s PR department or company to mitigate the risk of something being said that shouldn’t have been. However the absence of a CEO on social media is becoming a huge hole that is negatively affecting PR more than an honest mistake now and again.
In closing I want to leave you with some stats that are powerful in and of themselves and if you are thinking about taking the plunge and becoming a connected CEO, then come back in two weeks and check out my next blog with tips on how to effectively manage your social media presence.