Fortune 500s top business leaders have undergone a social evolution, and some social platforms have more to do with it than others
Social media networks have become globally recognized as an important business marketing strategy in recent years. Moreover, big companies are looking to create a greater impact on mainstream social media to capitalize on the million or so users online, forced to look upon hoards of advertisements.
But what about the world’s most successful CEOs? Can they afford to be aloof from the driving seat? As you will soon realize, top level executives are engaging more into the burgeoning space, transitioning social media from a marginal activity into a more focused and consistent effort on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc.
A study by PR firm Weber Shandwick found some surprising trends on social media usage among the top 50 CEOS on Fortunes Global 500 list from 2014. Since 2010, executives who take to social media for private or business use have doubled and more than 80% global CEOs have been engaging socially. Other frameworks to reach a large audience have also been established by savvy executives, with 68% global CEOs having a presence on their company website and 54% appearing in company videos.
Let’s rewind to a few years back, when companies used to spend thousands of dollars deploying social teams and hiring experts, attempting to decipher the best way to get their brand message across and struggling. This was mainly because social media was unchartered territory and everyone had much to learn about timing their posts.
Back then, CEOs had to follow a lengthy approval processes to get their posts online on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) or Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR). When the approach backfired, executives learnt surviving in the market required more frequent and concentrated efforts; along with picking suitable networks to engage in and avoid.
Now, more industry leaders have been posting online about a wider range of subjects, posting links to several articles, blogs, photos and websites. In addition, some also tweet about company news and personal information, which are more often than not directed to other companies and people instead of the CEOs own customers and employees.
Age and gender have also been notable receptors for the increase in widespread social media adoption by company leaders. The study found 52% greater social network use among newer CEOs in contrast to CEOs with a longer tenure. In addition, from Fortune’s list of most powerful business women, almost 76% engage on some social platform or the other.
Moreover, region differentials show the highest growth rate of social CEOs have boosted in European regions, which have experienced a 25% hike in executive participation rates on social networks. US CEOs remain the most social, surpassing Europe and Asia and Pacific (APAC) figures, with the latter observing the most stagnant social network exposure.
Interestingly, those chief executives you find regularly posting on social networks may not be doing the posting themselves. Gaines-Ross estimated that about 40% of the CEOs aren’t writing their own content, and from those who are, almost all of them have a publicist or copy editor to revise what they are about to send.
What about platform choices and the social CEOs most preferred medium of engagement? The study recognized the improved traction of video marketing as a key company strategy, with more than 50% of executives appearing in company-website videos or YouTube, up from just 18% in 2010. However, let us exclude YouTube videos and company websites from the data-driven study. Overall, the number of chief executives using social media stands at just 28% as of now, with a few distinctions favoring some platforms over the other.