America’s Top CEOs Are Getting More Social

By Stevie Sleeter, Content & Social Media Manager

Published: July 29, 2014

Once reserved for teens and their “friends,” social media has grown from a small college community to a growing opportunity for businesses. And while many companies are infusing social processes and technology into the very fabric of their processes, it is still taking some time to find its way into the corner office.

While America’s top CEOs from Rupert Murdoch to Richard Branson are getting more social, majority are laggards when it comes to social. Around 1.7 billion people use social media, yet only 16-30% of CEOs have a presence.

With still very few CEOs involved in the social game, CEOs have an opportunity to show their company is innovative and interested in getting more involved with its customers.

Use Social Media for Thought Leadership

When done well, social media can also help to boost your reputation and establish your personal brand. After all, your clients and prospects are already on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and probably a few others—shouldn’t you be where they are?  An opportunity to connect with professional colleagues, media, and current and potential new customers, a social media presence creates the opportunity to grow business, attract lifelong customers, generate exposure for their companies and close new deals. As consumers become more social savvy, so must company leaders.

To reap the benefits, CEOs need to understand how to navigate boundaries and their online reputations. Before social networks and the Internet, it was fairly easy to put clear boundaries between work and personal lives. Today, the personal and business distinction is a little blurred.

Barriers to Jumping Into Social

For many executives, the barriers to putting themselves out there are both personal and professional. On the personal side, there arises a common fear of the unknown. Author and chief science officer for SENS Research Foundation Aubrey DeGrey says the push back against cutting-edge technology is fear of the unknown and “of an irrationally conservative prioritization of the risks of change over the benefits, with unequivocally deleterious consequences in terms of quality and quantity of life in the future.” As many of us know, the change is a challenge – but the biggest barrier to lasting change is in the head.

Many executives have been in business before the Internet was a mainstay. For this reason, there is a certain level of discomfort with emerging technologies that are typically “reserved for younger generations.” The common belief that “tech-savvy young people have a tech advantage and while this may be true it confuses technology with its purpose – to establish trusted and mutually beneficial relationships – an age-old business skill at which executives are adept.” This, on the professional side, is a clear example of the new versus old way of doing things. CEOs used to create and foster trusted relationships only in face-to-face contact and a handshake. Today, a one-on-one conversation in LinkedIn, ongoing Tweets, and a glimpse into a more personal side act as a digital handshake, building trust in a company, offering accessibility and at the end of the day, a more “human” CEO.

After sending his first tweet, Warren Buffett joked, “Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”