5 Tips to Get Your CEO On Social Media [Charts]

Social Media and CEOs: 3 Research Findings

Warren Buffet Despite their corporate standing, CEOs aren’t on social media, according to BrandFog’s 2013 CEO, Social Media, and Leadership Survey. These findings echo earlier research by The 2012 Fortune 500 Social CEO Index that found 70% of the Fortune 500 CEOs had no presence on social media!

Why are CEOs missing from social media? They’re afraid of making a PR misstep or they don’t think it’s worth their time despite the fact that customers believe that CEOs who are on social media are more trustworthy.

3 Social media and CEO research findings

1. Fear and lack of time drive CEO inactivity on social media.

  • One out of four executives is concerned with negative feedback or criticism. For these titans of business, the risk of a PR crisis are higher than the potential to connect with prospects, customers and the public.
  • One out of five CEOs doesn’t have time to get involved with social media. In part, this may be attributable to the fact that executives perceive that social media involves hours of time and doesn’t yield a measurable ROI.
  • One out of eight CEOs has no interest in social media. This makes you wonder what rock they’ve been hiding under since social media accounts for one out of four minutes spent online.
  • One in eight CEOs doesn’t understand social media. This is less surprising. This falls into the category of fear of looking stupid. Senior executives don’t want to admit that they don’t know something. (BTW-We can help you get up to speed on social media.)

2. About half of CEOs take an ostrich approach to social media.

  • One quarter of CEOs don’t know who’s in charge of their leadership brand on social media. This translates to: it’s not important enough for my attention. This may have worked a few years ago but it doesn’t any more!
  • One of quarter of CEOs say no one manages the leadership brand on social media. This is the equivalent of saying we don’t need to be on social media despite the fact that other research shows that consumers trust businesses where the senior executives are involved on social media.

3. CEOs believe social media is useful to accomplish business goals, especially those related to branding and communications.

  • About 90% believe social media is either very effective or somewhat effective to raise the corporate brand’s profile. Related to this, about 80% believe social media is somewhat effective or very effective to communicate company mission and values.
  • About two-thirds of respondents believe c-suite social media engagement makes a brand appear more honest and trustworthy. Further,  over 70% believe c-suite social media engagement either somewhat or definitely creates brand transparency.
  • About 80% of respondents believe social media is somewhat or very important as a communications channel for CEOs to engage with customers and investors.
  • Almost 60% of respondents believe social media engagement makes CEOs more effective leaders. Further, almost 70% of respondents believe social media can be used either very or somewhat effectively by CEOs during company crises. (Here’s what to do when social media goes bad.)
  • About 80% believe CEO engagement on social media is somewhat or very effective at increasing brand loyalty and purchase intent.

5 Actionable Social Media Recommendations For Your CEO

  1. Set social media guidelines including branding. Review or outline your organization’s rules for social media engagement. Ensure that these rules spell out how to represent your brand on social media platforms. Outline when employees should elevate issues to legal (This includes how to respond to a PR crisis.)
  2. Help senior executive to interact on social media. Understand c-suite executives may be reticent to admit they don’t know how to engage on social media. If so, have your social media manager work with them or get them outside one-on-one training. (We can help with this.)
  3. Craft appropriate profiles for your senior executives across social media. As an extension of your firm and your brand, stake your turf and ensure that they’re consistent. Don’t overlook Wikipedia.
  4. Start with small steps. The goal is to understand how social media works and to engage with your customers in a transparent way. It’s important to get to know how to use the tools to build your presence.
  5. Be strategic with your senior executive’s social media interactions. Take a page from President Obama. While his staff provides support for his social media presence, he does participate directly. You don’t want your CEO to spend his or her days trolling Facebook. Consider a range of options such as Instagram photographs of your CEO’s at his desk, YouTube videos answering customer questions, or a Google+ hangout.

Social media is no longer a flash in the pan. It’s time that your CEO built his or her presence and started to engage in real time with prospects, customers and the public; to help build your business’ brand and sales. Understand for many CEOs the first step is the scariest.

How does your CEO handle social media for your organization and what implications does it have for your business?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo Credit:  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Warren_Buffett_KU_Visit.jpg by Mark Mark Hirschey

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  • denysedd

    Interesting findings Heidi.It would be interesting to compare these figures with CMOs as I am surprised how many of them are not on SM either, which is even more concerning, at least from my perspective.
    Thanks as yet another post with great content Heidi.