The study was conducted in mid-2012 through the activities of CEOs from the top 50 companies listed in this year’s Fortune Global 500 rankings, including 15 CEOs in the US, 21 in Europe, 11 in AsiaPacific and three in Latin America.
It audited how these CEOs are leveraging opportunities to engage with external audiences through sites including social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and regional platforms), external-facing blogs, company YouTube channels, company website homepage/About Us page and company website careers page.
The findings show the sociability of these CEOs has almost doubled from 36 per cent to 66 per cent over the past two years. This is mainly because of CEOs’ heightened visibility on their companies’ websites (32 per cent to 50 per cent) and their increased video presence (18 per cent to 40 per cent).
However, only 18 per cent participate on social networks. The research shows a drop in Twitter presence over the past few years among this elite CEO set. Facebook is the most commonly used social network used by CEOs in 2012, with 10 per cent having an account. Few are on Google+.
It also finds out that no CEOs have a Pinterest profile or presence on regional networks, such as Weibo in China and me2day in Korea. None have company-affiliated blogs either.
The level of sociability varies around the world. CEOs in APAC were less social in 2012 than they were in 2010 and are also less social than those in the US and Europe.
All of them nearly equally engage through their corporate websites, but when it comes to social media, APAC CEOs are much less likely to participate compared to their regional peers. No CEOs in the study from either APAC or Latin America have social network accounts.
The findings also show CEOs of the world’s most reputable companies consistently demonstrate greater online engagement than peers at less reputable companies. Eight in 10 CEOs from Fortune magazine's World’s Most Admired Companies engage through company websites or in social media, compared to 50 per cent of those from less reputable or 'contender' companies worldwide.
One issue that is pointed out in the study is the abundance of fake social network accounts, which contained inaccurate or false information about CEOs or companies, and in some cases, multiple accounts all claiming to be the same CEO.
Last year, Weber Shandwick found out that 66 per cent of consumers’ perceptions of CEOs affect their opinions of companies and the products they sell. Due to the increasingly important role of social media and other online channels, the study suggests how CEOs can take greater charge of their communications, both online and offline:
- Develop a social strategy and take the conversation online.
- Focus on the quality of engagement instead of the quantity of social accounts.
- Give the company a face with the CEO’s picture or message on the homepage.
- Encourage CEOs to use social media by listening and watching.
- Continue to take advantage of video.
- New CEOs should be social from day one.
- Monitor your CEO’s Wikipedia page, in case there is misleading or incorrect information.
- Flaunt CEOs’ accounts.
- Be vigilant about phony CEO social network profiles.
The article first appeared on Campaign Asia