Should the CEO of a company be on social media? That was one of the key questions that global public-relations firm Weber Shandwick asked 630 executives, from managers right up to the C-levels excluding CEOs, in 2012. The data from the global study, which included all major markets across the world, conveyed an unmistakable “Yes”.
To be precise, 76 per cent of those surveyed believed that “it is a good idea for CEOs to be social”. In fact, global executives “envision big leaps in CEO sociability in their respective industries, projecting a 50 per cent growth over the course of the next five years”. Some of the reasons behind this projected rise include the increase in sociability of employees themselves; that “Social CEOs” are better leaders; and that their social- media participation would be an inspiration to staff. The list goes on.
The business benefits of having a Social CEO are also helping to build the case. According to the survey, 80 per cent of executives with Social CEOs believe that such leaders have a positive impact on their companies’ reputation, while more than 75 per cent believe that they help humanise the company, show it’s innovative, and that they are better at communicating with employees.
As it is, there is already an outstanding pool of model individuals across the globe.
A quick glance at the Top 60 Social CEOs in the world – a list put together by online portal World of CEOs – shows that Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson has come up No. 1 for the second time since the list was launched last year. Apart from being the most followed influencer on Linkedin, Branson is known to be an active blogger. He also has over four million followers on Twitter.
Other noteworthy names listed include Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer (No. 2), who is known for her effective use of visuals and videos on her Tumblr blog; and Linkedin’s Jeff Weiner (No. 3), who has been flagged as one of the most influential voices in thought leadership in Silicon Valley.
From Asia, Anand Mahindra (No. 9), chairman and managing director of India’s automotive conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra, has provided insightful perspectives on regional and emerging markets via Twitter, where he has over a million followers. Japan’s Hiroshi Mikitani (No. 36), CEO of online shopping site Rakuten, has been active on Linkedin, sharing his lively views on the future of retail, strategy and talent.
Despite the trend of CEOs taking to social media, there are still many concerns that plague C-suite executives who are still sitting on the fence. Indeed, for some among us, sharing personal details, ideas and opinions on the Internet is unfathomable.
“The thought of having others know more about our passions and personal lives can be daunting, especially in a digital, online realm… Some of us may be open to sharing but are concerned about potential skeletons in our closet,” notes author Erik Qualman, in his book Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence.
Yet, it is a discomfort that can no longer be avoided, he notes. “As a result of technological advancements, your ‘closet’ now has a glass door. It’s going to be there whether you embrace the digital world or not.”
In other words, take that leap into cyberspace. Send out a tweet or two; like, share or update that status.