• Social CEOs: How business leaders are moving into new media

    Social media is now a mainstay of an organisation's communication strategy, although many within the C-Suite are still apprehensive about the adoption of this technology.

    However, in recent years, business leaders are increasing their use of social media as part of an effort to engage with the public and within the context of a reputational risk management strategy.

    That said, socially active CEOs are currently in a minority, at least according to CEO.com. The website's most recent annual social media report found that 68 per cent of company leaders aren't active on any of the five main social media channels the study covered.

    Despite that, many are now looking to increase their presence online.

    CEOs become more social

    According to the most recent research from Weber Shandwick, there has been a significant shift in the way business leaders approach social media. Since the 2010 survey, the organisation has found leaders are treating social media differently – moving from a risk to an area where they can add value.

    This process has started with corporate websites; 68 per cent of CEOs are visibly present on their company's web page beyond a simple biography. Increasingly, this involves embedded content from a CEO's own social presence, through twitter integration and shared LinkedIn content.

    LinkedIn also proved to be the most popular avenue for CEOs to engage in social media. The rate of use on this platform has almost quadrupled in the most recent figures, expanding from 6 per cent the year before to 22 per cent.

    Part of the reason for this is a generational shift – younger business leaders are far more likely to be active on social media than their older counterparts.

    The study also presented a few core steps for creating a social CEO. These included advice like carefully choosing the right platform that can drive engagement and embracing a "media mindset" where individual posts are part of a broader corporate narrative.

    Reputational risks persist

    While the narrative within organisations has shifted, with CEO social media risk is no longer seen as a reputational risk, there are still obstacles that organisations will need to consider.

    CEO reputations in particular have seen their standing decline in recent years, at least according to figures from CNBC released last year. The research found that CEOs face some of the weakest reputations of the groups included in the survey, ahead of only politicians and corporate lobbyists.

    While reputation is going to continue to pose a risk for CEOs, the advantages of being active on social media are likely to continue attracting business leaders looking to expand their reach.

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