It’s an interesting issue because one of the ways that social media can succeed is if there is a corporate champion leading the charge. If the majority of CEOs are not using social media, it certainly doesn’t set a good example.
According to a recent survey by public relations agency Weber Shandwick, 64% of CEOs are not using social media, although 93% of them are using traditional methods to communicate with external audiences.
Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick’s chief reputation strategist, said there are several reasons why CEOs are not more social.
“Time is better spent with customers and employees, their reputations are at an all-time low among the general public, the return on investment has not yet been proven, legal counsel tends to caution against it, and anything that smacks of ‘celebrity CEO’ is a no-win.”
To be fair, CEOs have a lot of responsibilities that make it difficult to invest the time required to do social media. There are also generational issues – many CEOs are in the 40-to-60-year-old demographic so they may not be savvy about social media.
This could make social media a non-starter for most CEOs, who are content to let other parts of the organization handle social media.
That said, there are different ways that CEOs can be involved with social media without having to do it on a regular basis.
For example, Ford does a good job in engaging CEO Alan Mulally through the use of podcasts and video interviews. It provides Mulally with a social media profile without having him invest a lot of time.
Another reality is time will have an impact on how social media fits into the skill sets of CEOs.
In the future, many senior executives could have lots of social media experience before they become a CEO. At that point in time, social media will just be part of doing the job.
In the meantime, the number of CEOs participating in social media will likely remain low, although there will be exceptions to the rule such as Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.