According to "Social Media Stats & Facts 2013" [at growingsocialmedia.com], there are 665 million daily active users on Facebook, 288 million on Twitter, 1 billion monthly views on Facebook, and so on. Social media adoption among the general population has been rapidly growing, but social media in the C-suite has found a slower reception. According a new study featured in Forbes, less than a third of CEOs at America’s 500 highest-grossing companies are on social media. According to the study, only 32% of CEOs have at least one account on a social network. Some 68% have no social presence at all.
Is it time to just accept the fact that CEOs don’t have the bandwidth, nor the focus, to be on social media?
CEOs at these top performing companies are focused on balancing capital investments in new and emerging markets, controlling costs, driving innovation and increasing shareholder value and profit margins. Despite the powerful reach of social media, if this medium does not ultimately help them meet these business objectives, there is very little incentive for these CEOs to take the time to tweet, post updates on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
There are obvious benefits for CEOs to be engaged in social media as they provide a unique perspective and business knowledge that are potentially interesting to employees, customers, partners and the general public, not to mention the value of their reach and influence. But if our expectation is simply for CEOs to be social in order to elevate brand awareness and thought leadership, then we’re missing the point.
Our job as marketers and social ambassadors is to vet out the social channels first and foremost to see if it even makes sense. Your CEO’s time is more valuable than you think, so to justify the return on their influence and investment, you have to help your CEO understand the makeup of the relevant audience across these channels and answer the question of why they should engage. Plus, the social landscape has drastically changed – and with control in the hands of the masses using social as a vehicle to talk about brands, it’s an opportunity to understand where and how your CEO gets involved.
Before you ask your CEO to get involved, do some digging into these respective channels. Maybe you’ll find out that mostly the audience on Twitter is made up of users who can benefit more from your subject matter experts versus your CEO. You might also discover that blogging and getting on LinkedIn’s Influencer Program is a better investment of the CEO’s time and that’s where you might want to focus. Or, it might just end up being an internal blog where the CEO wants to communicate more frequently with the employees to build goodwill for the company.
Richard Branson is a true leader in the social space. He has amassed over 3.3 million Twitter followers, over 4.7 million Google+ followers, and 2.1 million followers on LinkedIn on his LinkedIn Influencer blog. This level of engagement truly sets him apart and his company.
If you want your CEO to truly succeed in the social world, you have to empower your CEO by educating him or her on the benefits of doing this the right way. The "set it and forget it" mentality just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s either all in or out to achieve the engagement that you want with your influencers and audience. Focus on the important and most beneficial social channel and tie that back to the business benefits – whether that’s blogging on trends, challenges or ways to help resolve your customer’s trigger points in the most effective manner. Or, consider creating a CEO blogging program where your CEO can have a CEO-to-CEO conversation to draw attention and gain mindshare from other CEOs. These are just a few things to consider when you’re asking yourself why your CEO won’t blog or get on Twitter. Don’t just wonder. Research, validate and define a clear roadmap for your CEO to contribute and be effective in driving your business mission.