Pulse of the Profession

Friday Five: Note to C-Suite: It’s Time to Embrace Social Media

The majority of us flocked to social media sites the minute they went live and now we can’t imagine our lives without them. For public relations professionals, social media envelops our personal and professionals lives. But what about the big chiefs we take directives from? How well is their social presence doing? According to a recent survey done by CEO.com and Domo, CEOs are not present on social networks nor are they eager to join. A history of social media faux pas by public figures being too social for their own good may be acting as a deterrent for CEOs whereby keeping them behind the closed doors they have operated behind for years. Social networks have, to a certain extent, become the new watchdogs, putting everyone on blast. In the new age of transparency, the more CEOs try to avoid the arrival of social media, the more anti-social they appear.

In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five” post — an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary — we explore the 2012 Fortune 500 Social CEO Index report and discuss some surprising findings. We also look at some of the reasons behind why CEOs have such little social media presence and discuss the varying degree of importance that social reputations have on everyday business.

CEOs Afraid Of Going Social Are Doing Shareholders A Massive Disservice  (Forbes)

Forbes contributor Josh James discussed a recent survey conducted by Domo, a data startup company he currently runs, that looked at the level of CEO engagement on various social media platforms. According to a survey conducted by Domo and CEO.com, more than half the U.S. population has embraced sites like Facebook and more than a third are using Twitter, yet only 7.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs are on Facebook, and just 4% have opened Twitter accounts. The big takeaway is that CEOs have little to no presence on social networks. With so much information being shared via social media sites, CEOs are doing their shareholders a huge disservice by not keeping a pulse on social and digital issues that may affect their business, their employees, and especially their customers. So why aren’t more CEOs eager to join social networks? James explains that “social takes significant time and commitment,” time that a number of CEOs have already allocated to other big picture projects and planning. Another explanation comes from the old saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” CEOs have been operating by a set of standards that have been in existence since well before social media, and it is difficult for them to suddenly do business on these new social terms. While both of these explanations offer insight into the current dilemma, the hope is that CEOs will begin to see the value in a social presence and in return boost business by engaging with their target audience.

70% Of Fortune 500 CEOs Have No Social Presence [REPORT] (Mediabistro/AllTwitter)

According to the 2012 Fortune 500 Social CEO Index report from CEO.com, only 19 CEOs from the world’s top 500 companies use Twitter (or have someone use it on their behalf) – and only 9 of these are active.  Mediabistro’s Lauren Dugan walks us through some surprising takeaways from the report.

  • Rupert Murdoch has the second-most number of followers among his business tycoon peers with 237,000.
  • More CEOs prefer LinkedIn over all other social networks, but that number still remains small. 129, or (25%) of Fortune 500 CEOs use LinkedIn.
  • 38 (7.6%) of the CEOs have a Facebook account – and only 2 have more than 500 friends.
  • Only 4 CEOs use Google+ (one of whom is, of course, Larry Page).

Executives Don’t Give a Damn About Social Media (Technorati)

Technorati’s Adi Gaskell also looked at the recent survey conducted by Domo and CEO.com. While he pointed out some interesting findings from the survey, Gaskell also asked a very important question, “Does it matter if CEOs use social media, specifically Twitter?” He argues that it is important for CEOs to tweet. CEOs and their executive teams are responsible for setting the standards of their organizational culture and development. For many companies, social media has become an effective tool for any organization-wide initiative. If CEOs are not taking the lead with social media or at least participating, it creates a significant disconnect between the C-suite and staff.

Top CEOs Aren’t Using Social Media, Study Says — Should They Be? (All Things D)

The rise of Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms has created a new set of dilemmas for corporations, employees and even executive staff. Considering the number of compliance and legal issues that must be taken into account when engaging via social media, no wonder CEOs leave it to their communications staff or choose to have little to no social presence.  70 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are nowhere to be found across the top social networks — like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ — according to the recent study by Domo and CEO.com. All Things D contributor Mike Isaac explores some possible reasons behind CEOs’ lack of social presence and takes a closer look at Domo founder Josh James’ blog post, which we’ve included in this week’s Friday Five.

How CEOs and Other High-Level Leaders Need to Handle Their Social Media (Business 2 Community)

B2C’s Chris Birk offers some suggestions on how CEOs can use social media to advertise expertise and connect with their customer base in new ways.

  • “Give consumers a window into their world by sharing bits about their day-to-day life.” Customers buy more when they feel an emotional connection to a brand. When customers feel they can relate to you the emotional connection follows.
  • “Share stories about consumers who have been helped or otherwise been impacted by their product or service.” This allows for more engagement opportunities. Customers like being able to share their experience especially when they feel like someone is actually listening to them and finds their perspective insightful for future business strategy.
  • “Embrace a customer service role by answering questions and fielding complaints.” This can be time consuming, but setting aside time to engage with customers even if it’s just to answer a question leaves customers feeling satisfied and increases your brand ambassadors.

Nicole Castro is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.

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