As shown in this 2016 Fortune article, only 50 Fortune 500 CEO’s were present on Twitter, and yes that is up from 42 in 2014, it is still only 10% of the pool. To break that down further, 57 off the list are active on Facebook, 161 on LinkedIn (the most widely used social outlet for business), and only 17 present on Google+.
Sure, in some areas this data has doubled in favor of increasing usage over the past several years, but what does that tell us? We had a mountain to climb, and we are still only part way up.
Why is it that CEOs are not more socially connected in a world where increasingly so, success of all kind (business, personal, political) is virtually dependent on online and social media platforms? Is it that the return on investment seems hazy? It feels like a trivial use of time? Or perhaps, the liability that comes along with the easy and instantaneous access of putting one’s views as a person, and not a company, in front of millions, is vast, and carries the potential to damage the reputation of not only the CEO but the company as well?
While the reasons “why not” appear to be aplenty, let’s take a moment to reconsider... Here are 3 justifications why it is critical not to ignore these easy access platforms:
There is no other medium faster to build loyalty.
Never underestimate the value of putting a human face to the brand. With 1.23 billion active Facebook users, as of December 2016, and over 300 million monthly users on Twitter worldwide, companies are not only guaranteed to reach consumers or clients on social media platforms, but have immediate access to making impacts on their current and future employees experience. CEO’s with an active social media presence give a human face to large companies that want to relate to their customer base.
The good news: CEO social media use is efficient and scalable. One social media post has the potential to reach millions of people, particularly when it comes from an executive reaching out or responding personally to a customer on behalf of the company. Or think about the boost of credibility given if a leader publicly acknowledges an employees’ accomplishments? CEO’s who want to build public trust of their company and brand will be well served by maintaining active social media accounts.
It is the age of instant transformation, after all.
The happiest and most frustrated users or consumers of any product or service are the most likely to share their joy or anger publicly, and the easiest and most efficient way for them to reach an audience is through social media. Like it or not, your consumers can make or break your reputation through sites like Facebook and Twitter. And your employees through Glassdoor reviews. This information is out there being written, shared, reviewed… companies and their leaders must take a position of ownership versus “head in the sand”.
We all watched in awe just a few weeks ago, as #deleteuber swept across all social platforms and the company saw a drastic spike in the number of users deleting the app from their smartphones. Obviously, this is a worst-case scenario, but a CEO active on social media, who has built a following, built trust, and therefore respect, can then make a public comment instantaneously and therefore transform the consumer experience and brand reputation, with again, just a few clicks and a genuine voice behind it. When Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO, publicly responded to the delete Uber trend you can guess where he headed first? Facebook.
And of course, on the flip side, having access to your consumers through social media channels gives CEOs the chance to respond with appreciation when their customers are incredibly satisfied with the company and brand, bringing joy to both the CEO and the user. Either way, having a developed social media presence gives executives the opportunity to respond directly to their users when and where it matters most. That is, publicly and on a large-scale.
Global reach at your fingertips.
Expanding on the above… Think you will be releasing a new product/service, rolling out a new global internship program, or expanding your company? Rarely will a press release go viral. But a social media post from the leader of the company has the potential to reach far beyond your local market, in days, if not hours. When the message comes from top executive’s personal accounts it adds a level of authenticity that is unlikely to occur when it comes through the company’s standard social media channels.
Rolling out a global recruitment effort? No problem. A CEO can easily be the ambassador of their talent community in global markets. Taking an interest in talent trends and hiring across the world, a CEO can speak directly to the ears of both passive and active talent pools by taking on an engaging voice in those markets through social media.
It is a message being highly discussed and pushed in publications and we are reiterating it again here, CEOs are the human face to their business, service, product, and overall brand. Take the opportunity and use it to your companies’ advantage. Active executives on social networks is rising, but we aren’t there yet. Challenge yourself and business leaders to capitalize on the mediums that can be heard ‘round the world... Use them, be authentic and show your voice to those eager to hear from you.