Study Finds Most CEOs Are Highly Visible on Social Media, But Don’t Engage Enough

CEO Social Engagement

Socializing Your CEO report Finds High Number of Top Company CEOs Have Online Social Presence; CEO Engagement Rates Lower than 40%.

Research released by global communications firm Weber Shandwick has found that the majority of leading U.S. public (92 percent) and private (76 percent) company CEOs, as well as the top CEOs in Silicon Valley (86 percent), are visible online but engagement levels of CEOs was reported at below 40% in all three categories.

The Socializing Your CEO IV: The Engagement Factor released today part of the Socializing Your CEO series, looked at online activity of CEOs at top public, private and Silicon Valler firms. “Due to the strong link between corporate reputation and CEO engagement, we are committed to better understanding how CEOs can adopt and leverage social media and other digital platforms to communicate, listen and respond,” said Andy Polansky, Chief Executive Officer, Weber Shandwick.

The study looked at three levels of CEO activity: 1) CEO visibility on public website or social networks; 2) CEO posts from the past 12 months; and 3) CEO engagement from the past 12 months. Engagment was defined as any open dialogue between the CEO and online users, such as responding to comments or joining in a discussion. For example, CEOs who frequently write back to people who comment on their social posts, or who respond to criticism about customer service.

IN TODAY’S DIGITAL WORLD, CEOs HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE MORE THAN CORPORATE FIGUREHEADS. MAKING SOCIAL CONTENT AND ENGAGEMENT A CORE COMPONENT OF LEADERSHIP COMMUNICATIONS TRANSFORMS THE CEO INTO A CORPORATE STORYTELLER.

“CEOs and other executives can amplify and deepen their company narratives by creating social content and sharing it online,” said Chris Perry, chief digital officer, Weber Shandwick. “More CEOs have made the leap to communicating online to help shape their brands digitally and personalize the company. However, we are now at a point where CEOs need to truly embrace social engagement and move it up the next notch. Chief Executives today have greater means to be the voice of their company, and connect with the audiences that are clamoring for their content. Engaging online allows CEOs to shape their own digital brand.”

CEOs Visible, But Not Consistently Engaging

While public, private and Silicon Valley company CEOs excel in online presence, they are not making more extensive use of their platforms. Fewer than four in 10 public and private company CEOs (38 percent each) have posted online within the past year. Silicon Valley CEOs have a slightly higher posting rate (41 percent), but not by much.

Engagement levels are also low, with 22 percent of public company CEOs and 34 percent of private company CEOs interacting with other people online within the past year. Silicon Valley CEOs are the most engaging of the chief executives included in the audit (39 percent), just above private company CEOs, reported Weber Shandwick. The study added that when private and Silicon Valley company CEOs post, they typically engage.

“Engagement is the new presence when it comes to CEO sociability,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist, Weber Shandwick. “Distributing content online and engaging with stakeholders allows CEOs to humanize the conversation, demonstrate transparency and touchability, forge connections with stakeholders and to achieve the reputational advantage. Social engagement is more important than ever in this highly politicized climate and preparation is key.”

ENGAGEMENT IS NOW THE PINNACLE OF CEO SOCIABILITY. REPUTATIONS ARE ENHANCED WHEN CEOs ENGAGE SOCIALLY.

CEO presence on company websites and careers pages are crucial to visibility

The company website is the top destination for public and private company CEO visibility even though social networks are their top platform. One in 10 public (8 percent), private (10 percent) and Silicon Valley company CEOs (8 percent) have a “spotlight” page, said the study – referring to a centralized location of CEO messages, pictures, videos and speeches. Further, one-third of public company CEOs (34 percent) have a presence on the careers page, a rate three times that of private (10 percent) and Silicon Valley company CEOs (10 percent).

“Incorporating the CEO into the careers page is an opportunity for companies to attract talent,” Perry said. “Previous Weber Shandwick research found that a CEO’s reputation affects candidates’ decisions to accept jobs. The talent wars are only going to heat up and promoting culture from the top could make a difference to job seekers.”

Silicon Valley CEOs Lead the Way in Social Network Presence

Perhaps not surprisingly, social networks are the top platform for Silicon Valley CEO visibility (71 percent), far surpassing the figures of public (50 percent) and private company CEOs (59 percent). However, Silicon Valley CEOs did not report any significantly better social network engagement than their public and private peers. (39 percent vs. 22 percent and 34 percent, respectively).

Corporate Video is an Important Component of CEO Sociability

Silicon Valley CEOs also lead in video use, with 65 percent appearing in company video, either on the company website or company YouTube channel. More than half of public company CEOs (58 percent) appear in video, with private company CEOs (52 percent) not far behind. Public, private and Silicon Valley company CEOs are equally likely to appear in video on the company website (46 percent, 45 percent, and 43 percent respectively). Silicon Valley CEOs are most likely to be in a video on the company YouTube channel (47 percent), followed by public company CEOs (40 percent) and private company CEOs (31 percent).

Types of CEO videos found on the company YouTube channel vary from clips of CEO speeches and TV interviews, to one-on-one interviews and CEOs speaking directly to the viewer. Topics covered in CEO video include customer insights, company news, market predictions and industry outlook.

CEO social engagement

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