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Business Owners

3 Reasons Every CEO Should Be on Social Media


Social media has completely revolutionized the way people interact with each other and the world around them. Facebook alone has over 1.55 billion users, while LinkedIn, the social media network most used by CEOs, experiences year-on-year growth of 80 percent. Despite this, CEOs remain notoriously slow adopters of social media.

According to research done by PR firm Weber Shandwick and KRC Research, the amount of CEOs using social media has doubled since 2010 — but that figure only accounts for 28% of CEOs globally. Looking more broadly, the study also showed that 80 percent of CEOs “engaged socially,” but 68 percent of that figure refers to the number of CEOs with a presence on their company’s website.

Why are CEOs hanging back?

Crisis management experts have one idea: chief executives are afraid. It’s not an unfounded fear. Examples abound of CEOs and other senior executives making very public missteps and having to deal with the repercussions. In late 2015, T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint CEO Marcelo Clure exchanged barbs over Twitter regarding Sprint’s “cut your bill in half” plan. Neither party came out of the exchange looking particularly good, but the back-and-forth was relatively harmless. Others aren’t as lucky.

But despite the risks, Weber Shandwick & KRC found that 76 percent of executives think it’s a good idea for CEOs to be social, and CEOs who engage in social media more often are regarded better than peers who do so less often or not all. Social media also provides CEOs with tools that traditional media doesn’t allow them, like the ability to engage directly with customers and employees and control the narratives that surround them.

Here are the top three reasons for CEOs to get social—and stay smart.

1. Become a Thought Leader

Social media is a great tool for CEOs to establish themselves as social influencers. If you’re running a company in a particular industry, you’re probably an expert on it by now. Why not capitalize on the knowledge you have by branding yourself through social media? Influencers on LinkedIn create and share content that boosts their public profiles and that of their companies. Thought leaders like author-entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki and venture capitalist Ben Horowitz built names for themselves outside of their businesses with blogs and Twitter.

2. Humanize Your Brand

People are more likely to trust a brand whose CEO uses social media, according to BRANDfog’s Global Social CEO survey. To the consumer, businesses can sometimes seem like a black box with a lot inaccessible work going on behind the scenes. A social CEO counteracts this perception and creates a face—and, more importantly, a public voice—that consumers can associate with brands they enjoy.

3. Attract Talent

It’s commonly said that a company is only as good as its people, and social media allows companies to cast a wide net to reach the best ones. CEOs with clear, definable voices set companies apart from others, according to BRANDfog. The majority of firms now recruit through social media and potential employees are increasingly reaching out to brand personnel, including CEOs, on these platforms. As millennials enter the workforce, a social media-savvy CEO becomes more and more important. As other CEOs build their online profiles, those that don’t increasingly look resistant to change, old-fashioned,or even stuck in the dark ages. The value of social media only increases as more people join platforms. The longer a reluctant CEO waits, the more catching up he or she has to do.

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