“The most effective leaders throughout history have been great communicators, yet the vast majority of modern-day CEOs and C-Suite executives are conspicuously absent from social media channels.” Ann Charles, CEO BRANDfog
We are living in the information age. More people share information from more sources more frequently that any other time in history. People are sharing content often and quickly by social media channels. What a perfect opportunity this is for great business leaders to use these innovative communication networks. Yet, the vast majority of the leaders of America’s largest companies have no social presence. In a recent study, 68% of the Fortune 500 CEOs do not have a single social media account. They do not even utlize LinkedIn.
IBM released a significant report based on conversations with more than 1,700 chief executive officers in 64 countries. This is an annual study, conducted to gauge CEOs perspectives on developing trends and issues. One of the biggest surprises to me, given the lack of social media participation, was how dramatically their focus is shifting to social media. It is now high on their radar.
Why? Because CEOs now have a better understanding of social media’s potential to disrupt and redefine their roles as business leaders. Social media is going to remake how they relate to customers, employees and partners.
Social media is about to transform the C-Suite. It has the potential to fundamentally change how business is done.
- Moving past the hype: Currently, social media is the least utilized of all customer interaction methods. However, CEOs predict it will move up the ladder of importance, past websites, call centers and channel partners, and become the second ranked way to engage, just behind face-to-face engagements (IBM Study).
- Control is shifting from institutions to individuals: In a social media world, brands are in the hands of customers and employees. It will lead to a less controlled environment to a company culture that is more open and transparent.
- Learning while leading: Many employees at all levels already understand how social media works. Even their children get it. CEOs will be in the uncomfortable position of having to lead while they learn.
- CEOs must reinvent themselves: New skill sets will be needed to be more personally connected as a “Social CEO” and have the understanding and ability to organize this “major wake-up call” caused by the disruption of social media and rapidly changing technology.
- Connected companies centered on people: Social media enables connections with employees at every level as well unfiltered communication with customers and better communications with partners. Social media will also provide a means for collaboration inside and outside of the company.
- Loss of Control: It will force companies to have less of a controlling environment, be transparent and have a more open company culture. They must provide the opportunities to develop personal connections among peers at every level, not just among top executives.
We stand on the precipice of a paradigm shift into a fully connected society. We must not be afraid to embrace change. Those who can manage this will survive; those who don’t will perish.” – United States student, age 30 – Connected generation
Social media is no longer an experiment and isn’t optional. I predict that a CEOs participation in social media will become an expectation.
For further reading, here are some additional articles, reports and studies that I recommend:
- Leading Through Connections: Highlights of the Global Chief Executive Officer Study
- Connected generation: Perspectives from tomorrow’s leaders in a digital world
- 2012 ceo, social media & leadership survey
- CEOs on Social Media Statistics
- Study: The Social CEO: Executives Tell All
- 7 Habits of Highly Social Chief Executives
- (Infographic) The Social CEO: Executives Tell All
- Harvard Review: What’s Your Personal Social Media Strategy?
- Interview: Why Richard Branson Always Makes Time for Social Media
- DIGIDAY: The Social CEO
- 2013 CEO.com Social CEO Report: Are America’s Top CEOs Getting More Social?