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Why your CEO’s social habits are a big deal

Submitted by on January 23, 2013 – 12:24 pmNo Comment

How social is your CEO? Does it even matter, when there are specialists on the ground ensuring the cogs of your social strategies are running smoothly? Yep. It matters a lot.

According to research by global PR firm Weber Shandwick and KRC research, no less than two-thirds (66%) of consumers say that their perceptions of CEOs affect their opinions of companies and their products, and 49% of executives attribute a company’s reputation to the CEO’s reputation. And of course, reputation is intrinsically linked to market value – by as much as 60%, according to the research.

So, CEOs matter, and how better to depict them as caring, sharing, switched-on and relevant pillars of a company than through social channels? But how many companies do this? And how many CEOs even recognize the importance of this? Weber Shandwick’s second Socializing Your CEO report provides some illuminating findings.

From June to August 2012, the company researched the activities of CEOs from the top 50 companies listed in the Fortune Global 500 rankings, auditing company websites, social networks, blogs and YouTube channels to determine what opportunities exist for CEOs to engage with audiences, and whether they actually are. These findings were then compared with stats from the initial Socializing Your CEO report from 2010. Here are the key findings:

  • 81% of CEOs from the world’s ‘most reputable’ companies engage socially
  • 66% of global CEOs engage socially
  • 50% of CEOs have more than just their names on company websites
  • 40% of CEOs appear in video
  • 34% of CEOs have a presence on company homepages and About Us pages
  • 18% of CEOs participate on social networks
  • 0% of CEOs have company-affiliated blogs

When compared to the 2010 report, these findings paint an uncertain picture. On one hand, the research found a sizeable increase in CEO sociability over the past 24 months, with the number engaging near-doubling from 36% to 66%. On the other hand, that only 18% of CEOs have their own social network pages marks a paltry increase of 2% from 2010.

Other findings included the prominence of video, with more than double (from 18% to 40%) of CEOs now engaging with their audience via video as a means to humanize their reputation. Given the general popularity of video this is certainly a channel not to be overlooked in this respect, and indeed the report calls it “the next big evolution in CEO sociability and transparency”.

The biggest – but not at all surprising – news? That the world’s most reputable companies have CEOs that demonstrate greater online engagement than CEOs at less reputable companies. Why? Because ‘Most Admired’ company CEOs more acutely recognize the relationship between social media engagement and positive reputation, and the importance of having a dialogue with customers despite the risks.

As president of digital communications at Weber Shandwick Chris Perry notes: “’Most Admired’ company CEOs may be more social than contender CEOs because they ultimately recognize the fundamental sales and marketing benefits that engaging online brings to reputation.”

Empirical evidence, then, that social CEOs mean happy customers which means better business. How social is your CEO?


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