CEOs and Social Media: Getting the Boss on Board

Socializing Your CEO, a report released by Weber Shandwick, indicates that only 18% of the CEOs of the largest companies in the world have their own social network pages-a 2% increase from the 2010 report. It would appear that CEOs are simply not jumping on the social media bandwagon, at least not personally. Don’t believe it? Do a quick search on LinkedIn, arguably the most “professional” of the various social media channels, and see how many CEOs you find.

You’ll find some, but they don’t represent the CEOs of the Fortune 500 — or even 1000. Most, like me, are CEOs of their own small firms or consultancies.

So, what gives?

I’ve pondered this question a lot and, as I work with organizations and communicators to help them “sell” social media to their C-level executives, I’ve recognized that this lack of personal involvement among CEOs and other members of the C-suite can certainly make it challenging to get them to recognize the value that social media can often (although not always) provide.

This lack of engagement is logical. Think about it. CEOs of Fortune companies are busy people. On top of that, they’re already well established so, unlike many participants on sites like LinkedIn, they’re not that interested in networking, building their reputations or landing new jobs. They’ve already “been there, done that.” Quite simply, they don’t see the value and–from their vantage points–maybe, just maybe, there isn’t any. For them. But, not necessarily, for their organizations.

The challenge for communicators then becomes not so much to convince CEOs that they, personally, should be engaged in social media, but to demonstrate to them in measurable ways how social media might benefit the organization. That’s a different argument and it’s one that can be won–but only through the use of rock-solid evidence of real, bottom-line results.

Embracing social media, we must realize, does not necessarily have to mean personal involvement of CEOs or other C-suite members. Ultimately, social media is just one more means of connecting, through communication, with key audiences. For CEOs it has always been, and is always likely to be, about the numbers. Show them the value in measurable ways and they’re more likely to get on board – perhaps not personally, but through their support of the organization’s efforts.

And, ultimately, for communicators, that’s all that matters!

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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