Does your organization’s CEO have an active presence on social media? Does she blog? Does he tweet? As social media becomes a natural part of our daily lives and our marketing strategies, it seems that CEOs aren’t embracing the platform. But they should. Here’s why.
A Call to Action Goes Unheeded
First a brief history. Back in 2010 at it’s Marketing Forum, Forrester Research’s Chief Executive Officer, George Colony declared that “within 15 years CEOs will need to know the ins and outs of new media, social network technologies and social communities before they get the job.” Two years later, the folks at Domo and CEO.com released a study that found the vast majority of Fortune 500 CEOs are virtually invisible on social media sites.
While we can’t definitively say why CEOs are avoiding social media, Brandfog surveyed employees and found not only do a majority believe a social CEO will increase business purchases, but many want to work for one. From the employee perspective social CEOs are better leaders, more trustworthy, are better equipped for crisis management and are likely to enhance the company’s brand.
In order to prepare for the next 13 years, we turned to Paige O’Neill, vice president of marketing at Aprimo to help us better understand why CEOs need to be on social media and how we can get them there.
No Time for Social CEOs
According to O’Neill it’s not necessarily because they don’t want to be considered trustworthy or better leaders, it’s rather that CEOs are busy and don’t think they have the time to Tweet or blog effectively. Which is why it’s up to the rest of us to set up a workflow that can enable them to submit quips and thoughts as they happen so we can send it out on their behalf.
Yes, social media is about transparency, but you're kidding yourself if you don’t think that most companies have someone monitoring and managing the social activity of their leaders. Based on past mishaps, it’s not such a bad idea. However, it’s important that what CEOs say is authentic and meaningful, not canned or affected.
While the benefits of having CEOs on social media are impressive, the perils of not being online are even more severe. O’Neill says that the perception of a CEO who isn’t on Twitter or hasn’t contributed to the company blog depends on the industry, of course, but is generally a negative one.
A Chiefly Executive Role
The first step is getting a CEO to fully appreciate the value of the information shared on social networks. If you get her to start following the right people and start incorporating time to read her feed for at least 15 minutes a day, she'll start to find information that's relevant and helpful. Overtime, social networks will become a trusted news source.
From there, have your chief executive craft responses either in blog form or in 140 characters to some of the articles that pique her interest. It's important to remember that a chief executive's mere presence on social media doesn't make them a social CEO. It requires meaningful activity that not only serves to add value to their followers' feeds, but also lends an opportunity to convey personality.
O'Neill does seem to think that age plays a role in the presence of CEOs on social media. Many of the founders of today's start ups, who tend to be younger than the executives of larger, more established companies, are already on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and other social networks and have built their personas there. If older CEOs don't start embracing a more social role, they are destined to be left behind by a social generation of fans, followers and consumers.