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Published on: Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Is Your CEO Using Social Media?


If your CEO is not leveraging social media, this could change quickly as more companies increase productivity and drive higher engagement levels by using social media. According to a recent study by Social Media Insights and Trends, only 5 percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs are on Twitter. While we hear about Tony Hsieh of Zappos and Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly Media on Twitter, they are not leading large publicly traded firms. However, there is the beginning of a movement to explore the business benefits of using these tools for the CEO and top executives of larger companies. Is your company one of the ones with a CEO on Twitter?

CEOs of FORTUNE 500 Companies Using Twitter:If you believe that your CEO and/or team of executive leadership should start using social media, but you are unsure of how to tout the business benefits, here are my top five benefits to tout:
  1. Instant Feedback: Your CEO can be closer to your customers and become in the process your company's CLO — i.e. Chief Listening Officer.

  2. Idea Generation: As your CEO and/or senior executives start a dialogue with your customers, anything can happen and one consequence can be the identification of new products and service to fill voids in the marketplace. Once your CEO gets involved and starts hearing customer needs firsthand, there can be a quick turn-around to a product or service filling that need.

  3. Cool Factor for Young Talent Millennials are savvy researchers when they are interviewing for a new job. They will be sure to check or for the nature and extent of involvement of the CEO and top executives. An involved CEO using social media can be a company's most powerful recruiting tool for top talent.

  4. Culture Building: The 2020 workplace will be one that is more open, transparent and authentic than in the past. CEOs who get involved using the latest tools become important spokespeople for what the company values and how work gets done.

  5. Entering the New World of Work: Blogging and Tweeting will become requirements of CEOs in the 2020 workplace, as they allot more time to being connected and interacting with current employees, potential employees, and customers and suppliers.

In addition to Twitter, chief executives have the option of writing more traditional blogs. Though, currently, Chief Executive estimates that less than 3 percent of CEOs blog in any meaningful way, there are some standout exceptions, including:
  1. Allonhill: Sue Allon, CEO, Allonhill: Sue Allon blends the personal and business to comment on mortgage securitization, due diligence and credit risk management.

  2. FirstRain: Penny Herscher, CEO, The Grassy Road: A CEO at Work and Play in Silicon Valley and Beyond: Penny Herscher seamlessly combines thoughtful musings about Silicon Valley business with news about adventurous life away from the office.

  3. Forrester Research: George Colony, CEO, The Counterintuitive CEO: George Colony's goal is to assist today's company leaders in forming unique approaches to the challenges they face by focusing on technology, publishing and new media.

  4. Hammock, Inc.: Rex Hammock, CEO, Colorful, frequently updated blog about social media, publishing and Web content by a true practitioner of the digital arts.

  5. Makovsky + Company: Kenneth Makovsky, president, My Three Cents: The president of a large public relations agency discusses CEO reputation, media relations, crisis management and "whatever is uppermost" in his mind.

  6. Merisant Company: Paul Block, CEO, The CEO of the company that makes Equal Sweetener blogs about talent management, recruiting and strategy.

  7. Royal Caribbean International: Adam Goldstein, President and CEO, Why Not?: Adam Goldstein blogs on all aspects of cruising, giving readers an intimate look into aspects of cruising that most guests don't see.

  8. Saatchi & Saatchi: Kevin Roberts, CEO, KR Connect: The creativity of the CEO of one of the world's most innovative agencies is on display as he discusses all aspects of marketing, communications and design.

  9. ExecuNet: Dave Opton, Founder and CEO, Six-Figure Learnings: The founder of the executive membership organization blogs about his lessons learned from and about six-figure leadership and executive career management.

  10. Thomson Reuters: Tom Glocer, CEO, Tom Glocer's Blog: Tom Glocer blogs on everything from strategic issues and business ethics to the intricacies of Finnish sauna.

  11. Zappos: Tony Hsieh, CEO, CEO and COO Blog: The mavens of customer service, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and COO Chris Nielsen, share a blog that gives a penetrating look into the shoe marketer's plans, challenges and insanely customer-focused culture.

Chief Executive profiled some recent successes, including Tom Glocer, CEO of Thomson Reuters, who started his blog because he was personally interested in social media and citizen journalism. As Chief Executive recounts:
There are basically two ways CEOs can learn about emerging technologies, [Glocer] says. One way is to hire a consultant or commission a study. But Glocer preferred another approach: He decided to plunge in and learn it himself. "As I experimented, I found I liked blogging," he says.
Like most CEOs, he occasionally writes internal memos to employees. But when he posted these same memos on his personal blog, Glocer was surprised by how the simple fact of posting them increased their exposure and credibility. More employees offered thoughtful comments than ever before. "I came to the conclusion that in the eyes of my associates, my thoughts can have greater legitimacy because they are hanging out there for all of the world to see," Glocer says. The blog earns added credibility because Glocer publishes all signed comments — positive and critical.
Glocer doesn't believe every CEO is cut out to have a personal blog. He suggests CEOs ask themselves if they are comfortable writing their own staff announcements, news releases, etc. "If you find the act of writing short messages a burden, then you probably shouldn't take on a blog because it will be painfully obvious to everyone that you're not having fun."
"As more CEOs see the power of social media to build brands, increase innovation and communication, then we'll start making progress" for the business case of social media. Regardless, this is not a fad and is not going away any time soon. Start now to begin a dialogue on how using social media will increase business performance in 2012.

Join Jeanne on October 28th for an exclusive ExecuNet program on preparing for the 2020 workplace.

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Jeanne C. Meister's avatarJeanne C. Meister
Jeanne C. Meister is an internationally recognized expert in corporate learning and development whose name is synonymous with the establishment and institutionalization of corporate universities and customer education programs among Fortune 1000 firms and agencies of the federal government. Jeanne is skilled working at top executive levels and is a leading edge thinker, researcher and author.

Jeanne co-authored, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow's Employees Today (Harper Collins, 2010).

She is a partner with Future Workplace and can be contacted at: or visit her blog at:

Posted by Jay Bryant
10/19 @ 06:13 PM
You can add our LiveWorld CEO to your list of CEO's using Twitter. Peter Friedman tweets
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