Should CEOs Use Social Media?

Is Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh an anomaly because he’s an active member of the social media community?

With a vibrant Twitter account and more than 1.7 million followers, Hsieh is the poster boy for CEOs using social media. But the question is whether he’s an exception to the rule. For all the talk about social media being a great way to engage with customers, it still doesn’t appear that CEOs have climbed on the bandwagon.

It may have to do with the reality that CEOs don’t have the time to use social media given all their all responsibilities. Or it may be that devoting time to social media has a low return on investment compared with other things they could be doing. It could be that CEOs don’t get social media so there’s no appeal to dive in.

What do you think? Why are there so few CEOs engaged with social media? And who are the exceptions to the rule beyond Tony Hsieh?

3 Comments on “Should CEOs Use Social Media?”

  1. Some of it has to do with CEOs (or anyone who isn’t really working “on the ground”) not understanding the relationship building aspect of the brand. It’s about being accessible, about being transparent and putting a real person behind a brand. Part of it too, is that people aren’t getting the social media scene: traditional hierarchies and power structures are dissolving a little more with social media, and customers, who used to only have a 1-800 number to call for service, are now using other forms of communication–YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more. If higher-ups can’t devote a small percentage of time to listen and engage, then they are not interested in their customers.

  2. Most CEOs that are not engaged with external and internal stakeholders for two reasons. 1) They feel they need to be running their companies, not blogging, or sharing their views on twitter, facebook, etc. and 2) They probably see social media as gaining in importance but still serving as the domain of others within their organization – the CMO, the VP of Communications, the PR team/agency, customer service organization, etc. The reality is it not an either-or proposition and those organizations that do it well, do so utilizing many different executives and thought leaders.
    There are many CEOs who are active on social media platforms. Two that come to mind are Brian Halligan of HubSpot, an inbound marketing company and Vineet Nayar of HCL Technologies (a client of my firms’), a global IT services firm. Like Tony Hsieh, Vineet is passionate about his employees. He is also extremely committed to being accessible and he is all about truth and transparency. Also, like Tony, he just authored a book about management and leadership called “Employees First, Customers Second.”

    1. Tim,

      Thanks for the comment. Perhaps in time, these barriers to entry will disappear as social media-savvy people become CEOs, and see using social media as just another communications vehicle.

      cheers, Mark

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