Do CEOs really know – or care – about this social media thing?

Recently, IBM asked 1,709 CEOs all over the world what they felt was going to happen with social media in the coming years.  How did most acknowledge the coming change?

               More than half of the CEOs surveyed “expect social channels will be a primary way of engaging with customers.”

However, of the CEOs that were surveyed, only 16 percent are currently participating in social media. For CEOs who are trying to decide whether participating in social media is worth their time, there’s new research that could help tip the balance.

A new report from and business intelligence firm DOMO notes that social media is more pervasive than ever among consumers:

  • Fifty percent of the population currently uses Facebook, and more than 37 percent use Twitter.
  • Yet among Fortune 500 CEOs, only 7.6 percent are present on Facebook, only four percent use Twitter and less than one percent use Google Plus.
  • LinkedIn is the only social network where CEOs are slightly ahead of the general populace: Twenty-six percent of CEOs surveyed use LinkedIn, compared to 20.15 percent of the population at large.

The study also predicts the percentage of CEOs who use social media will likely grow to 57 percent within five years — and, in fact, social media will become one of the two most important forms of engagement with employees and customers, second only to face to face interactions. Why the expected growth? Corporate leaders are finally realizing what their employees and customers already know – that using social technologies to engage with customers, suppliers and even with their own employees enables their companies to be more adaptive and agile.

Though some are still hesitant, other CEOs, like Marissa Mayer from Yahoo!, are already embracing the idea of using social media networks, like Twitter, for their personal and professional advantage. After facing public backlash for accepting her position at Yahoo! while pregnant, she used social media to reaffirm her commitment to her position and company as well as to humanize herself as an everyday woman. One who, although leads a Fortune 500 company, goes through life changes – just like everyone else. This gave her the benefit of being authentic, true and worth-listening-to person in charge.

While the advantages seem abundant, an obvious disadvantage to having a CEO on social media are the “Are you kidding me? I can’t believe he posted that!” overshare moments that social media teams sometimes face. To avoid any Donald Trump moments on social media, online community managers can provide their company’s leaders all of the best social media practices to ensure he or she is on-board with how to properly and efficiently use each platform. These tips include telling your company’s CEO to:

  • Give, Give, Get

Give to others, share as much information as possible related to your content and mission by others. Over time, your tribe will follow. Don’t be afraid to mix the personal and professional – people want to follow the whole you!

  • Use Two-Way Interaction

The most important tip for success on social media is to actually interact with other members. Many CEOs use social media as a personal billboard to talk about themselves. The most effective way of building a following and actually seeing success from social media is to make sure the conversation is two-sided. Talk to other users, share advice and actually create relationships. Interested is interesting.

  • Share

If you’re not feeling too talkative, one of the easiest things to do is post a link to an article you find interesting. It gives followers insight into what you’re inspired by. Plus, articles are an easy thing to save up—you don’t need to post them as soon as you read them—so you can keep a backlog of content for when you’re short on 140-character witticisms

  • Get Personal Now and Then

Don’t overdo the personal tweets and social media messages, but remember that you’re posting as a human being, and that most people prefer to do business with other human beings, not faceless corporations

  • Provide Consistent Value

Why would YOU follow you? If you can’t figure out a compelling reason, then it’s worth focusing on providing some kind of consistent value on some topic, obviously ideally in your company’s industry. If you want to build the go-to company, become a go-to thought leader first.

  • Don’t Talk About Politics. Ever.

Just don’t do it. Re: Donald Trump

  • Be Absolutely Authentic

Fans and followers are interested in your social media updates because they want to know YOU. Be authentic and everything else will fall into place.

  • Respect Your Critics

Just like the playground rules: Play nicely! As you’re sharing, it’s inevitable that you’ll get some critics, so it’s best to listen, respond when appropriate and adapt. Being the leader of a community makes it hard to hide, so be authentic and real with fans and critics alike.

So, should your leader-in-charge take the lead and utilize their social media profiles to their max potential? Consider one last piece of recent research: The BRANDFog 2012 CEO Survey says more than 82 percent of customers are likely or much more likely to trust a company whose CEO and team engage in social media. The study also reports that 77 percent of customers are likely or much more willing to buy from a company whose mission and values are defined through their leaderships’ involvement in social media.

Clearly social media is becoming vital for business; however, the biggest rewards are available for companies whose commitment to social media comes from the top down. Regardless the size of your organization, would your company want to let such a strong competitive advantage go?

MCC creates the right mix of communications for today’s audience – from traditional advertising and public relations to highly interactive digital communications, engaging social media and powerful search engine optimization. With such a broad range of communication services, it’s easy to think of MCC as the big agency that does. With the passion of the little agency that could.

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