Should the CEO blog?
It seems like a question rooted in 2008, but now that blogging could include things like tweeting, creating videos on YouTube, updating a Facebook profile or taking part in LinkedIn, it may well be high time to start asking these questions all over again. The reasoning for this line of questioning comes via a press release issued today titled, Fortune 500 executives behind on social networking. A study done by Domo and CEO.com looked at the online engagement of Fortune 500 companies’ top brass and compared it to that of the mass population. The key takeaway? Less than thirty percent of the Fortune 500’s top executives have (at least) one profile within a social media channel and the vast majority have none.
"I’d like my life back."
During the BP oil spill crisis, then CEO, Tony Hayward, became known for his infamous line: "I’d like my life back." Social media and online social networking force individuals to become public. They also force these same individuals to become active media entities unto themselves. These people are no longer just leading a company but are expressing their views and perspectives. This – as you can well imagine – is not for everyone. Some have done it exceedingly well as a platform to share ideas and thinking to foster better relationships with everyone from shareholders to employees to customers, but the majority of them (according to this press release) are simply avoiding it… like the plague.
Why so shy, Mr. CEO?
Here are some of the fascinating data points taken from this survey:
- 5 of the 19 CEOs on Twitter have never tweeted.
- 25 of the 38 CEOs on Facebook have less than 100 friends.
- The only social network that these CEO outdo the US public on is LinkedIn (129 of the CEOs have profiles vs. 1/5 of Americans).
- Only 4 CEOs are on Google + (and that includes Larry Page).
- None are on Pinterest (which has, according to this report, 12 million American users).
- Only one CEO blogs (Whole Foods‘ John Mackey). That blog has not been updated since November 2011 (so does that even count?).
Social media is personal media.
From the report: "While the majority of Fortune 500 CEOs have yet to pick up the pace in their personal social media efforts, it seems those who do will be better equipped to successfully grow their companies." I’m not too sure that I would agree with that conclusion. If a CEO believes a more public and social platform would enable them to add economic value to the brands that they represent, there may be good cause to get involved. But, it’s not essential. Social media has evolved and I do not believe that consumers have an expectation that because blogging and tweeting exists that there is now a defined line to connect personally to a CEO of a company. It seems like the vast majority of consumers are fine with their current level of interaction with brands so long as they get results that are both fast and end with a positive result in their favor. Does anyone really care if the CEOs of the brands that they like and follow are deeply engaged in the social media spheres? Not every leader is going to be great at developing and nurturing a substantive social media presence and, so long as the brand is actively engaged, isn’t that more than enough? In a perfect world, I would love to see more and more CEOs sharing, caring and connecting in a more personal way, but it’s easy to see where the apprehension lies, isn’t it?
Do you think the future CEO can only be successful if they’re personally engaged with social media?