What CEOs can learn from us?

Dear European brothers and sisters. It’s so nice to meet you here again, online. I’m pleased to use this wonderful platform to share some thoughts with you. Thoughts that occur in my mind on a daily basis while watching the news, surfing the web or reading the paper. These thoughts often include the question ‘why’.  I think that’s because I’m a part of ‘Generation Y’, or as I like to call it, Generation WHY. So I would like to share some of those Generation WHY questions with you now and then. I’m very curious to hear your thoughts, opinions and ideas. Please share them and join the conversation via Twitter using #AskGenWHY.

By Angèl Nijskens

So for this week… Generation: Why don’t CEO’s get social?

Politicians, leaders, small business owners like me, professionals like you, we all need to understand ‘media-aware’ leadership, public relations and reputation in order to compete for career opportunities, new and future business and even mainstream media attention. With this I mean offline media as well as media in the online world. Therefore a solid social media and general web presence is a must-have nowadays.

Photo CC Jason A. Howie - flickr.com/jasonahowie

Photo CC Jason A. Howie – flickr.com/jasonahowie

Being a Gen Y’er reading this, you probably think: ‘Yes of course? Why is that so special?’ Well, to us it isn’t. But it seems most corporate leaders still haven’t done their homework yet.

In 2012, IBM released its 2012 Global CEO Study. This study provides interesting results based on interviews with over 1,700 CEOs worldwide. One of the findings revealed in IBM’s infographic; only 16% of CEOs participate in social media. CEOs listed the following methods of customer engagement in order of importance:

#1 Face-to-face interactions
#2 Websites
#3 Channel partners
#4 Call centers
#5 Traditional media
#6 Advisory groups
#7 Social media

Really, social media comes last. So it might not surprise you that for many CEOs, their own personal social media publicity is one of the least-utilised methods of customer engagement – let alone as a way of increasing their visibility as a leader. Fortunately the study also reported some good news, social media will become the #2 way to engage customers (57%) within… the next 5 years. All right we get it, let’s not rush into things here.

CEOs seem to not want to move the needle on individual participation on social platforms. The numbers of Fortune 500 CEOs with an active account on one of the top social media platforms are poor, with LinkedIn (25,9%) and Facebook (7,6%). Check out the usage numbers of FT 500 CEOs on other social media platforms such as Twitter, Google+, Pintrest and personal blogs taken from the 2012 Fortune 500 CEO Index.

Photo CC Daphne Depasse - flickr.com/daphnedepasse

Photo CC Daphne Depasse – flickr.com/daphnedepasse

Let’s not even get into the actual engagement numbers – its more than enough to say, they’re horrific. If a CEO would read this, he might think: ‘Really? I have a company to run. Where do I find the time for this ongoing online jiber-jaber?’ I think they might not want to hear what Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson (or ‘King Social’ as I like to call him) has to say to that:

‘People often wonder how I find time to tweet and update my blog so regularly. How do they not find the time, I wonder? Social media is such a terrific way to connect with our customers that I would never miss out.’ – Richard Branson

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