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September 10, 2012

The Benefits of Tweeting for CEOs

Posted on the PR Nonsense blog on September 6th by Meredith L. Eaton

Should CEOs be tweeting? Well, you’ve heard it from the numbers before… 77 percent of consumers said they trust a CEO who tweets more than one who doesn’t… one good tweet from a CEO is worth more than 100 tweets from other staff… 82 percent of employees have more confidence in a tweeting CEO… 93 percent believe that CEO engagement in social media helps showcase company values, reputation, and leadership…

But, are these numbers enough? As well all know from the famous Jerry Maguire movie line, oftentimes, the biggest element to proving something’s worth is if you can “Show me the money!” So, can tweeting and social networks actually have an associated ROI? Well, according to a recent report from McKinsey Global Institute, by capitalizing on the potential of social technologies, businesses could unlock anywhere from billion to .3 trillion in value. Now that’s showing me the money!

The McKinsey study notes that, beyond gathering insights for product development, marketing, and customer service, social media tools like Twitter can actually “enhance communications, knowledge sharing, and collaboration within and across enterprises.” For instance, with social media, research and development teams can brainstorm products, HR personnel can vet applicants, sales teams can foster leads, and operations and distribution staff can forecast and monitor supply chains. What’s more, McKinsey estimates that “by fully implementing social technologies, companies have an opportunity to raise the productivity of interaction workers—high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals—by 20 to 25 percent.”

So, while it’s evident that CEOs have the potential to derive great value from tweeting and using other social networks… are they?

According to the 2012 Fortune 500 Social CEO Index from Domo and CEO.com, apparently not. The survey found that only 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are even on Twitter and, of those few, five of the 19 have never even tweeted.

But, Twitter isn’t the only social network on which these CEOs are lagging behind. An overwhelming 70 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs were found to have no presence on social networks whatsoever. And, it turns out 25 of the 38 CEOs on Facebook have less than 100 friends and only four CEOs are on Google +. In fact, the only social network that these CEOs engage on more than the U.S. public is LinkedIn (26 percent of the Fortune 500 company CEOs have profiles as opposed to only 20 percent of all Americans).

Commenting on these findings, Josh James of Domo said, “This lack of engagement would be similar to 50 percent of the world using email with big CEOs holding out; or 50 percent of your customers shopping online but no CEOs trying it.”

Maybe learning from other tweeting CEOs will help more executives and Fortune 500 leaders catch on as there are clear benefits that can be seen in the effective use of such social media tools and technologies (check out this slideshow of CEOs who do use Twitter and what they use it for). And, while many may not be socially engaged today, there are further studies that show a clear recognition of the potential and future importance of social networks. According to an IBM study, the number of CEOs who believe social media is a dominant method of engaging with customers will grow from 16 percent today to 57 percent over the next five years.

So, in five years, will we see more CEOs from Fortune 500 companies and beyond tweeting and engaging on social networks? By the numbers, it would appear so. And, as social media is definitively not just a passing fad, the importance of social engagement for corporate executives and CEOs is sure to only increase from here on out. What do you think?

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