Originally published on July 18, 2013. Updated on May 31, 2019.
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 it’s 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 from 2019, 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 CEOs who are not leveraging social media to help their companies.
Most studies I have read 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’s 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 CEOs 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?
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Grow the company brand
Human connections are everything. In fact, about 66% of consumers say their perception of a CEO impacts their perception of a company! When a CEO chooses to engage customers, vendors, employees, and the public as the face of the company s/he has the opportunity to humanize the brand and give people someone to whom they can relate.
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 high-quality talent
About 80% of 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). It means that CEOs need to take the time to learn how to interact on social media channels.
You are sending out the message that you are relevant. Social media is not just for “young people” anymore. If you are going to lead and develop your 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.
Generate new leads
Customers want to engage with you, and social media provides an opportunity to do that. It’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the community that surround your company.
Social media provides a wealth of feedback in an instant, offering the kind of insights that were historically only available 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 the growth of their companies.
Understandably, many CEOs are wary of getting involved and feel that interaction on that level is too risky. However, 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.
The truth is that the absence of a CEO on social media is huge and noticeable hole that may have a more negative effect than an honest mistake on a company’s long-term PR strategy.
Something to consider
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.