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Is Your C-Suite Hesitant to Get On Social Media?

Is Your C-Suite Hesitant to Get On Social Media?

Social media’s influence on business, in both the B2B and B2C sectors, continues to grow every day.  Prominent amounts of business websites now display social tabs, asking the visitor, “follow us,” on anywhere from one to several different networks.  Trade shows and conferences typically have their own official hashtag.  LinkedIn now features the blogs of influencers such as Richard Branson, Jack Welch, and Dave Kerpen on its homepage.

Despite this growth, a large sector of the C-Suite, especially within B2B, has reservations about establishing a presence on social media.  On the surface, their misgivings are justified, as there are certainly risks.  Premature disclosure of private information, a tweet after one too many cocktails, or an account getting hacked are certainly reasonable causes for concern.

A recent Social Media Today article features a great baseline for how organizations should approach executive use of social media. “An executive approach to social media, particularly within the B2B environment, needs to take into account numerous complex issues. Further, the final decision must be thought of in the context of the organization as a whole, the executives it employs, and the industry and regulatory environment in which it operates.”

Once a cohesive, thorough, social media policy has been instituted, there is little reason for your leadership to avoid social networks.  While there will always be risks associated, your C-Suite probably did not earn the reputations they’ve earned without taking a few chances along the way.  And besides, staying off social media runs the possibly greater risk of making your company appear behind the times.

A BRANDfog study (via Artillery Marketing) found that having C-Suite members on social media could have a profound impact on how both prospects and employees perceive your leadership. “93% of respondents believe that CEO engagement in social media helps communicate company values, shape a company’s reputation, and grow and evolve corporate leadership in times of crisis.  82% of respondents were more likely or much more likely to trust a company whose CEO and leadership team engage with social media. 78% of respondents would prefer to work for a company whose leadership is active on social media.”

If these numbers don’t convince your executive group that the rewards outweigh the risks, they should also know that being active on social media doesn’t mean they need to solely post about business.  ING Direct Canada CEO Peter Aceto has experienced a great deal of success and improved reputation from simply being both relatable and accessible to ING’s customers.  Rather than constantly promoting ING, Aceto gives his followers a glimpse “behind the curtain” at his values, interests, and personal life.  By simply “being there,” Aceto is strengthening ING’s brand in a way that company accounts would have trouble accomplishing.


What do you think; do the risks outweigh the rewards when it comes to “C-Suite Tweets”?  What executives would you point to as models for how leadership should conduct themselves online? Can you think examples of brands you’ve done business with or perceived differently due to a leader’s social media presence? Sound off in the comments!




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