Employer Branding

Here’s Why Your Boss Should Become a Social CEO

Would you say you have a social CEO? If not, here’s how to convince them to get involved.

Something transformational happened on the way to 2015: CEOs became “socialised!” After tracking the rates of CEO online and social media presence since 2010, Weber Shandwick has learned that a new day has dawned — CEOs have found their social footing.

The Social CEO 2015 research finds that eight in 10 CEOs (80%) are now engaged online and via social media, a rate which has more than doubled since 2010 (36%). The company website continues to drive CEO sociability, with 68% of CEOs engaging through their company pages. This finding reflects the trend of companies becoming self-publishers of news and information. The research also finds that the visual influence of corporate video is fast-becoming a standard form of communication for top executives (54%) and social network usage has now hit a record high (28%).

Top takeaways from this year’s Social CEO study:

The company website continues its surge

The company website is the top destination for CEO communications with nearly seven in 10 CEOs (68%) having a presence that includes more than just their name or standard biography page. The rapid rise in the use of company websites from 32% in 2010 and 50% in 2012 reflects the trend of companies becoming self-publishers of news and information.

Corporate video is fast becoming a CEO standard

CEO corporate video usage, either on the company website or company YouTube channel, is three times as high as it was in 2010. Over half of the CEOs in the audit (54%) now appear in company video, whether that is found on the company website (44%) or YouTube (38%). CEOs shouldn’t overlook the powers of visual influence in today’s multi-media world.

2014: A record year for social networks

After two years of little growth, the proportion of CEOs in the audit with a social network account jumped to 28% from below 20% in past years. The rate of CEOs using LinkedIn nearly quadrupled since 2012, making LinkedIn the most popular social network for top executives in 2014. Twitter also contributed to the growth in social network use. It now appears that CEOs are more confident about how to use Twitter without causing alarm and reputational harm.

U.S. CEOs are leading the way; Europeans are not far behind

U.S. CEOs surpass their peers in Europe and APAC in terms of sociability. Nearly all of the U.S. CEOs in the 2014 audit were social (94%). However, European CEOs have made great leaps in sociability over the past few years and are catching up to U.S. CEOs. APAC CEOs are less social than those in the U.S. and Europe and did not experience any growth since 2012.Tips for CEO Social Engagement

Weber Shandwick recommends that companies and their executives adopt the following strategies to optimise their online storytelling to help bolster their reputations and the reputations of their respective organisations. Our report details nine recommendations with five of them highlighted below.

    1. Socialise the executive bench. Sociability starts below CEO level. As we see from assessing the sociability of the most powerful women in business, sociability begins before taking the top job. Those executives who have the social know-how when they step up to CEO will have an advantage over the competition and may even have brighter career prospects.
    2. Choose platforms wisely. Find the right social vehicle for CEOs, especially those who are hesitant to be social. CEO sociability is inevitable, so they need to embrace it in some form.
    3. Listen closely. For those CEOs still hesitant to embrace social media, listening and watching should be the first step. Monitoring the online conversation is a way to gather data on stakeholders and gauge what is being said about their companies.
    4. Embrace a “media company mindset.” Take hold of the trend in narrating the company story and use the company website as a media platform to publish content. Feature the CEO regularly, even if it is footage from a speaking engagement or a snippet from a town hall meeting.
    5. Socialise the CEO’s biography. The CEO’s biography or profile on the company website is a central place to show off a CEO’s assets. If the CEO has social networks, link to these profiles from the CEO’s bio.

Learn more about becoming a social CEO in our interview with the Chief Reputation Strategist of Weber Shandwick, Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross (also available in iTunes).

By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.