by Mike Mulvihill
According to an IBM Global CEO study companies that outperform peers are 30 percent more likely to identify openness (characterized by greater use of social media) as a key enabler of collaboration and innovation.
What company wouldn’t want to stimulate collaboration and innovation? So why is the list of the top 20 CEOs on social media full of tech company CEOs but devoid of large company CEOs? Because those tech companies get it (after all, many are social media companies) and most large companies spend more time assessing the risks rather than embracing the benefits of social media.
Whether they like it or not, CEOs are a reflection of their organizations. Yet, CEOs at Fortune 500 companies participate in social media channels far less than the general public, according to a new study sponsored by Domo and CEO.com. The study, the 2012 Fortune 500 Social CEO Index, indicates that CEOs lag far behind the general population (and their employees) on Facebook and Twitter at 7.6 percent and 4 percent,respectively, while 50 percent of the U.S. population uses Facebook and 34 percent uses Twitter. Overall, 70 percent of CEOs have no presence on social networks at all (and that number would be higher if one-in-four CEOs weren’t on LinkedIn).
CEO blogs, a serious tool to engage employees, fare no better. Only six Fortune 500 CEOs contribute to blogs.Among this select group are GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt whose On My Mind blog, widely read by GE’s nearly 300,000 employees, was launched in June 2011 as a channel for dialogue between Immelt and staffers. Andres Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical, posts Access Andrew, which is read each week by 30 percent of Dow’s 43,000 employees spread across 60 countries. Sixty-eight percent of employees report they regularly visit the blog and 77 percent say it has enhanced employee communications at Dow. And Bill Marriott, the 80 year-old chairman of Marriott International, has been publishing his Marriott on the Move blog for five years!
So what’s in it for a CEO? A recent BRANDfog survey indicates employees at companies with CEOs who use social media feel they are much better positioned for success. In addition to enhancing the brand, employees believe that social CEOs help the company on most every front including recruiting, trustworthiness and sales. So if a CEO’s job is to maximize company profits and stimulate future growth, then Victoria Barret’s Forbes.com article is right on target: CEOs who are afraid of social media are doing shareholders a massive disservice. Fortunately, that can be changed.