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What do CEO’s think of Social Media?

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Sixty Four countries, 1709 CEOs from 18 industries – the findings from these have been compiled into IBM’s 2012 CEO report. Among the diverse range of topics covered social media is one of them, and it gives us expert insights into what today’s CEO think of social media and how are they using it to engage. . . .

Sixty Four countries, 1709 CEOs from 18 industries – the findings from these have been compiled into IBM’s 2012 CEO report.  Among the diverse range of topics covered social media is one of them, and it gives us expert insights into what today’s CEO think of social media and how are they using it to engage.

According to one CEO from the Healthcare industry in Australia, “Social Media has grown faster than industry knowledge on how to use it.” However, the report concludes that while the face-to-face interactions of the sales team is the primary driver of customer engagement, the future looks different.

Fig 1: Social Media Engagement percentage for the next 5 years
http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/en/c-suite/ceostudy2012/infographic-01.html

The figure above indicates that while social media engagement is at 16% currently it is set to increase by 256% within the next five years. This is a great indication of the overall role that social media has taken in corporate communications and marketing.  However, this trend is varying based on industry – CEOs in education, telecommunications and retail sector, expected social media to become the main channel for customer engagement and interaction. While CEOs in insurance and electronics admitted social media would play a role, they did not credit the platform to be a significant driver of communications.

There was general consensus among the CEOs that social media had now moved past the hype and is fast becoming a medium of communication with the customers and other stakeholders. The key challenge for CEOs with regard to social media is to create real business opportunity and ROI. Furthermore, CEOs there is real fear amongst them that the power of their brand is now in the hands of the consumers than the marketing & advertising department of the company.

Additionally, CEOs are also not social media savvy and are unsure about how to use it effectively for customer engagement and the degree to which they should get involved. It has become a classic chicken and egg story – this is highlighted by Michael Dell’s tweet earlier in May 2012.

On the flipside, a survey carried out by BrandFog targeting employees also indicated that CEOs are slow to adopt social media as a key marketing communication media. With only 50% of survey participants responding that their CEOs were engaging via Twitter. Additionally, 25% of participants stated that there was no social media engagement from their CEOs.

Interestingly, 77% survey respondents stated that they were more likely buy from companies that communicated their values and mission via social media, through their CEOs and top level management.

So what can CEOs do to become social? According to Forbes, there are top five must dos for CEOs to become social: –

  1. Speak and act on social media as you would on any other communication media such as print or television. The press can quote what you say on social media channels.
  2. On social media channels you are not just the chief operating officer but you are also the chief narrator. It’s all about mastering the art of storytelling.
  3. Social media, what you say and what is being said is a matter of public record.
  4. Do not express your opinions on controversial topics.
  5. Show the human side of the company by what you say and how you communicate.

So in conclusion, CEOs recognise the importance of social media communications and customer engagement, but are slow to get started on it due to skepticism of the real business value of it. However, customers are openly stating that they would be much more inclined to purchase from social media savvy companies than those that aren’t. So while the ROI may not be all black and white for companies, one thing is clear – the time has now come for adopting social media as a key marketing and communications platform.

Sources: –

  • IBM 2012 CEO Study – http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/en/c-suite/ceostudy2012/infographic-01.html
  • Brand Fog 2012 CEO, Social Media & Leadership Survey – http://www.brandfog.com/CEOSocialMediaSurvey/BRANDfog_2012_CEO_Survey.pdf
  • Forbes Article – The Five Must-Dos for CEOs In Social Media,  http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrisperry/2012/01/05/the-five-must-dos-for-ceos-in-social-media/

About Logan Nathan

Social Media Business Consultant | Internet (Web) Marketing Strategist Speaker | Trainer

Based in Sydney, Australia, Logan has been an avid & passionate social media user since the advent of Facebook.  As the Social Media Business Consultant with over 30 years experience in the travel and hospitality industry, Logan is focused on guiding organisations through the four stages of social media for business – Education, Strategy, Implementation and On-going Management. If your business needs expert assistance on creating a custom Social Media and Search Engine Optimisation Strategy , contact us via logan@logannathan.com