You are here

Why socially invisible CEOs are bad for business

With over 50% of the U.S. public on Facebook, and more than 200 million tweets sent each day (about 30 per cent from the U.S.), Americans continue to enmesh themselves with social networks. But for the CEOs of the top 500 U.S. companies, social networking has definitely not taken off.

In a report released yesterday by Domo and, the online presence of Fortune 500 companies’ top executives was compared to that of the general public. The results were stark:  less than 30 percent have at least one profile on social networks, and the vast majority have none. Five of the 19 CEOs on Twitter have never tweeted — while 25 of the 38 CEOs on Facebook have less than 100 friends. The only social network that these executives outdo the U.S. public on is LinkedIn.

Why should CEOs be social?

"We don’t have the size and scale of a large multinational—at least not yet.  But we’ve seen benefits since I’ve started using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  We’ve attracted recruits, drummed up enthusiasm for our brand and garnered some immediate feedback from prospects on our product. Our organization has flattened and we are moving more quickly." - Josh James, CEO, Domo; founder of Omniture (sold to Adobe for $1.8 billion).

Consider the results of a recent BRANDfog survey: employees feel that companies with CEOs who use social media are much better positioned for success. As well as enhancing the brand, employees believe that social CEOs help the company on most every front including recruiting, trustworthiness and sales.

And let's consider the effect on the wider public: as a CEO, you are supposed to be a visionary, an innovator, a smart operator who's constantly scanning for opportunity for your organisation to excel and lead. Instead, you're only visible rolling out platitiudes in old-school business magazines. You are lagging behind, and failing to deliver value for shareholders - not a sensible position to put yourself in - and yet, 70% of U.S  Fortune 500 CEOs are doing just that.

Surely this is an opportunity for marketers to add avlue within their organisations. They need to be getting into the boardroom and making a case for transforming their leadership's social presence. And they need to be doing it right now.