July 1, 2016 Kevin Erb

Where are you, social CEOs?

The notion of a company not being officially active on social media is as antiquated today as a company not having an official website 15 years ago. It is simply a given that brands – virtually regardless of industry, product or service at this point – must have some kind of active presence on social media. Why, then, do we not extend the same expectations to those companies’ most visible representatives?

In 2015, one study showed more than 60 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs had no – as in nada, zilch, nothing – social media presence. And this is at Fortune 500 companies – imagine what the percentage of leaders not active on social is at your average small or medium-sized business

This fact, unfortunately, runs directly counter to customer expectations: 64 percent of American consumers think CEOs should be active on social media, and more than 50 percent say leaders who are transparent on social media are also more trustworthy.

There are some high-profile leaders who are quite active on social, to be sure, but they remain the rather rare exception to the rule. Which is a shame and a missed opportunity for most companies; an active and open leadership presence offers several benefits:

  • It can educate. People – prospects, customers, vendors, media, etc. – want to know more about your company and its products/services. That’s what your website is for, of course, but many people now view social as another primary source of company info, especially when coming from someone in a position of leadership.
  • It can entertain. A company’s official social presence is crucial to amplifying the brand voice and identity, but putting an actual name and face to the brand in the form of leadership can be doubly effective. Indeed, an audience can more easily understand and absorb a brand’s voice when it’s delivered through the voice of an actual person.
  • It can move the bottom line. Consumers who feel a personal connection to a brand – something social media is uniquely effective at helping to create – spend more on average. There are few more easily effective ways to develop that connection than through providing a personal face and identity unique to your brand.

Most often, leaders think being active on social means going way out of their comfort zones and jumping on Twitter or Instagram. Quite often, and especially for B2B brands, a leader active on LinkedIn is just as effective, if not more so. As we always say, know your audience and where they are.

Just as importantly, CEOs and other key leaders don’t need to manage their presence entirely themselves – far from it, in fact. Marketing departments and/or agencies should be involved to ensure the CEO’s approach aligns closely with the brand’s content voice and overall social strategy.

The bad news: far too many companies have failed to take advantage of the opportunities presented by having an active CEO and/or other leaders on social media. The good news: those opportunities are amplified for those who do.