In a comprehensive study by Weber Shandwick, the barriers to CEO participation in social media are explored. About half the reasons for not participating are directly related to the CEOs themselves. In the graphic below, the blue bars represent CEO-related reasons for non participation (e.g. CEO sees no measurable return on investment, CEO thinks social media is for young people, etc.).
The top reason given for CEOs not participating in social media is one you may be familiar with in the business-to-business world (i.e. “Not typical for our industry“). This is not surprising, given the herd mentality of many industries.
However, CEO social media engagement has doubled in one year. Conducted in partnership with KRC Research, over 600 senior executives from 10 markets worldwide were surveyed. The research found that 76% of global executives say they want their CEO to engage in social media.
The study, “The Social CEO: Executives Tell All,” surveyed 630 professionals — managers on up to the C-suite, excluding CEOs — about the social participation of CEOs.
According to the study, the benefits of CEO engagement with social media include:
Here are two short videos that highlight the findings of the study (the second video automatically starts after the first):
There is a big opportunity for any CEO who wants to take advantage of all the new opportunities afforded by social media to break out from the pack and increase awareness, preference and business opportunities. But they need to hurry before the herd turns in that direction.
For additional examples of CEOs who have found the social media love and are benefiting from it, check out Hootsuite's 5 Non-Tech CEOs Using Social Media To Drive Business Results (or click the graphic below).
One Fortune 500 company CEO interviewed in the Webber Shandwick study believes that the real risk is in not using social media. By not being a social CEO, he argues, a CEO runs the risk of not getting his or her message out.
"Your message is getting lost or not heard if you aren’t doing it. So the null set would be… what happens if you don’t?” Besides, all change begets risks."
Another Fortune 500 CEO points out that a similar concern was undoubtedly raised when the telephone replaced the telegraph. If social networking is here to stay, the CEO’s job is to figure out how to use it in a way that minimizes its downside and maximizes its upside.
"There are risks and concerns with all kinds of things that you do as CEO. You just focus on the positives and you manage whatever the risks might be. After all, isn’t it the job of CEOs to manage risk?"
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Check out the infographic:
Here is the entire 23-page report.