CEOs are not only figureheads but also representatives of their entire companies, making their public persona key to the company brand. Social media has become a critical tool for businesses to improve customer experience, brand visibility, and employee engagement. However, as the CEO.com 2015 Social CEO Report shows, 61% of Fortune 500 CEOs have virtually no social media presence, and 70% of active CEOs are only on LinkedIn. This presents a significant problem for companies wishing to improve their standing in the market, as B2B decision makers use social media to directly influence purchasing decisions.
The assumption that a business social media presence is only necessary for retail consumers can lead organizations to believe that social media is not a priority for B2B CEOs or brands, which is not the case. All data points to the fact that B2B decision makers use social media not only to learn about organizations but to directly influence purchasing decisions. Salesforce’s 2016 State of Marketing research report found that 80% of B2B customers expect companies to respond and interact with them in real-time. Members of the decision-making team use social platforms and social influence in their decision-making process, whether they monitor a Twitter feed or ask a question in a LinkedIn group. The organization whose CEO is missing out on social engagement is risking being left behind in the B2B process.
Social media is not just necessary for retail consumers. Millennials stay updated on brands through social networks and rely on social media when making purchases online. They are influenced by social media when making purchasing decisions. This explains why marketers are spending over $36 billion on social media ads in 2017.
The Benefits of CEO Sociability
Many CEOs do not see or cannot measure the ROI of being on social media, and more than half of all CEOs refuse to participate because they believe the risk is too high. However, the real risk is in not being on social media, not owning the messaging. Unless there is a legal reason why a CEO should not be on social media, the benefits in today’s connected society outweigh the risks.
McKinsey & Company determined that one trillion dollars is on the table for companies who learn to leverage social media. It isn’t just about marketing your organization but about utilizing social media tools to drive improved customer service, better customer experiences, and enhanced communications. Being one of the companies to benefit from the power of social media will not be possible without buy-in from the CEO on down.
Research conducted by Hootsuite in partnership with LinkedIn found that there’s a 40% increase in employee engagement as a direct correlation to CEO or executive engagement. When sales teams are engaged on social media, they’re 50% more likely to achieve sales quotas.
CEOs on Social Media: Benefit Outweighs Risk
CEOs are inextricably linked to the companies they lead, so considering how to align the CEO’s social presence with the company brand is crucial, particularly in larger organizations. Because consistency is such an important piece of social media success, care should be taken in creating the CEO’s social media profile in such a way that complements the corporate brand.
As business leaders and industry experts, personal social media can extend far beyond promoting your organization. Your social media visibility as a senior executive may lead to additional opportunities, such as keynote speaking and panel participation, invitations to boards, and the ability to grow your personal credibility in a wide variety of areas. But you do need to define your personal brand.
CEOs on social media are still CEOs, and that means they are incredibly busy running their organizations. You cannot be your own full-time social media manager. While it is wise to set aside some time each day to familiarize yourself with your chosen platforms, you will need help from a social media engagement firm. Ideally, your chosen firm will also be able to help you develop the content you publish on your company blog and on LinkedIn, and should be able and willing to work with your organization’s communication team to develop complementary and cohesive strategies.
The most difficult challenge most executives have when they get started is being themselves. But social media requires authenticity to be successful. It’s okay for people to know that your pet pug Daisy comes to the office with you on Fridays, or that when you’re not attending the Philharmonic, you might be at a rock festival with your teenage son. You simply have to decide how much personal information you put in your personality and how it reflects on your business.
In today’s connected society, CEOs who are not on social media are risking being left behind in the B2B process. CEOs who adapt to social media as a major form of communication can help an organization attract and keep better talent. Social media is a tool for engaging with and connecting with others. The more active and engaging you are, the more social media love you’ll get. CEOs on social media in B2B, B2C, and B2B2C provide the industry-specific, trust-based, personal interaction that customers crave.