Twitter_logo_blueA survey on CEOs and their use of social media from Brandfog caught our eye because here at Itsdevelopmental we believe role-modelling the behaviour you want to see in your organisation is one way in which you can encourage that behaviour. Roisin Woolnough takes a look at the survey . . .

CEOs that don’t believe they need to personally engage with social media will lose out. Their brand story and reputation may suffer and they lose their voice in the marketplace. That’s a central message of the Brandfog Survey 2014, The Global, Social CEO. It claims that C-suite execs simply cannot afford to not engage with social media any more in a business context.

We all know how important social media is for protecting and promoting a brand in terms of marketing, PR, brand and product positioning, but now senior people need to be active as well. “In today’s hyper-connected, information-driven world, CEOs and senior executives alike are expected to have an active social presence,” says Ann Charles, BRANDfog founder and CEO. “Brand image, brand trust, and a company’s long term success depend on it.”

Consumers want transparency, they want to see leaders reflecting corporate culture and being accessible in the online social spaces. Leaders need to engage with social media to achieve this.

So many conversations occur in so many different places –Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, YouTube, Instagram and so on – and if CEOs choose not to take part in those conversations or are unaware of them then others will fill that gap. The conversations will go on regardless of whether the CEO of an organisation wants to take part or not, but the CEO loses the opportunity to influence the conversation. This means that a brand’s story and reputation can be reshaped, without those at the top doing anything about it.

C-suite executives who do engage in social media are using it to their competitive advantage. They might use it to give context to business decisions, to address brand issues, showcase company culture, engage with consumers and show thought leadership. This is critical in today’s world where consumers perceive a brand’s image and leader are being very closely intertwined. As a result, they expect leaders to be visible, connected and transparent. They want to hear their voice. Brandfog highlights a few leaders who are synonymous with their brands – Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Martha Stewart…

Brandfog’s survey shows that leaders are acutely and increasingly aware of the need for them to be active on social media. It claims there are three recent trends that are influencing how business communications take place.

Firstly, that social CEOs make better leaders. Between 2012 and 2013, the perception that C-suite and executive participation in social media leads to better leadership increased from 45% to 75%.

Secondly, that social CEO engagement improves brand trust. Roughly two-thirds of UK respondents and nearly three-quarters of US respondents believe that a company whose C-suite executives and leadership team use social media to communicate about core mission, brand values and purpose is more trustworthy.

Thirdly, that social media has become the modern PR, particularly for a brand that is in crisis. Over two thirds of US and UK respondents agree that social media has become an essential aspect of PR and communications strategy for C-suite executives.

The message from Brandfog is that CEOs that ignore social media as a powerful communication channel do so at their peril.

If CEOs are active on social media it leads to: