In an age when social media has become a must-have for every business, many CEOs are hesitant to keep up. Only 47.4 percent of Inc 500 and Fortune 500 CEOs use social media.
Perhaps the reticence comes from a fear of making a mistake in a place where a gaffe can turn into a crisis. Maybe it’s something else.
Whatever the reasons not to, here are eight reasons why every business should have a social CEO (we do!):
1. You give customers more insight into your brand
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, started using social media in 2008 because that’s where his target audience chatted. Having direct access to the audience enabled him to provide insight into Virgin as a company. For example, Branson often highlights his philanthropic causes.
2. You can drive more of the conversation
Social CEOs shift some of the control of the company’s image out of the hands of the customers and back to the business. Social CEOs often share forward-looking company or industry news, share the company story, and can even combat negative public opinion.
3. You develop new media contacts
Because of an active Twitter and Facebook presence, the CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories developed new contacts with the media. Beyond that, his social media activity earned notice from the CDC, politicians, and even a celebrity. These contacts help build influence, visibility, and publicity.
4. You’ll build trust with customers
A recent study showed 82 percent of customers are more likely to trust a company who has a CEO (or other leadership members) on social media. With greater trust comes greater sales. Seventy-eight percent of customers are more likely to buy from a company with a socially-active CEO.
Katie O’Malley, owner of Katie O’Weddings and Events in New York, said the trust comes from people getting to connect with her on a personal level. She has gotten clients through her personal Facebook page and doesn’t expect that trend to stop because of the high social media adoption rate among the younger generation.
5. You get media coverage in new areas
In addition to earning new contacts with the media, companies with social CEOs see more range in the coverage they receive. They are five times more likely to receive coverage about their creative approach and four times more likely to get press about strategy and innovation.
6. You attract the best employees
Not only are social CEOs attractive to customers, they’re more attractive to employees. Nearly four in five professionals would prefer to work for a company with a social CEO. That could help retain your best employees and attract new ones.
7. Your customers want to engage with you
Marketing Profs COO Ann Handley tells a story about how her hunt for a new digital camera led her to query her friends on Twitter. Among the people who responded was Kodak’s CMO at the time. The interaction turned Ann into a Kodak customer.
Interactions on social media are a good way to educate prospects about your business and products or services. That information carries more weight when it comes from the person leading the company.
8. You set a positive example to employees
A CEO who uses social media well encourages good social media habits from the rest of the company. Now a larger part of the staff will use social media as a tool to learn, connect with others, and share important news.
More publicity? Better and more controlled-communications? Building trust and making sales?
And finally, consider this: two thirds of consumers say their perception of a CEO affects their perception of the whole company.
Why aren’t more CEOs on social media?
Image: tsevis (Creative Commons)