Why CEO’s Need to Be Out on Social Media

I’m a big fan of Box HQ CEO Aaron Levie who I’ve repeatedly stated is my model Social CEO. This week, he did not disappoint.

Aaron isn’t shy when it comes to expressing his personal opinions on politics, tech and any other myriad of news items that catch his attention and give him fodder for delivering rapier wit. Here are a few gems from this week’s news cycle.

Aaron Levie's Tweets

Ok, so you perhaps your CEO doesn’t possess a rapier wit, nor do he/she wish to rock the boat by stating their personal political opinions. However, there are still plenty of reasons why CEO’s need to climb down from their ivory tower and step out on social media.

Excuse #1: Fear of Alienating Stockholders, Board Members and Stakeholders

Perhaps your CEO has been advised by the Public Relations and Legal teams not to activate a Twitter account for fear that some of his/her tweets may have negative repercussions for your company.  Certainly you don’t want your CEO to get caught out like Twitter’s own CFO, Anthony Noto [Noto once publicly tweeted private information about a pending M&A deal] who clearly didn’t understand how to use his own Twitter product – doh! These kinds of mistakes won’t occur if your CEO has proper training (my specialty!) on each social channel to achieve fluency and skill before stepping out there.

Facts: Aaron is CEO of a publicly traded company, beholden to board members and shareholders alike, not to mention customers of Box cloud computing software; and yet Aaron’s Twitter account has over 271,000 Followers!

In today’s networked social world, instead of Fearing potential blowback, what you really ought to be concerned about is FOMO.

Excuse #2: There’s No ROI for a Social CEO

CEOs are constantly focused on the bottom line – delivering great product, increasing sales and driving revenues. I get it. Since the social media office is usually the poor step child (Why Is the Social Media Office Marketing’s Poor Step Child?) serving the greater marketing and PR efforts, perhaps you haven’t seen much compelling data that supports the case for a Social CEO. Understandable in principal but the thinking is wrong.

In fact, recent research from G&S Business Communications and Harris Poll, show that most Americans would prefer company leaders to be on social media.

64% of Americans think company leaders should be on social media                      What Americans want company leaders to share on social media

The study shows that 64% of Americans want company leaders on social media. Why? In order to better understand the company before purchasing products. In other words, having company leaders on social media allows customers to build a relationship with the company as a first step before buying products.

A Social CEO builds trust with customers! The more they trust the CEO, the more likely they are to buy your company product or services. That’s the ROI.

Excuse #3: My CEO Does’t Have Time to Manage Social Media Activity

The common perception is that social media is time consuming and difficult to manage. Most CEO’s barely have time for bathroom breaks and now I’m telling them they have to manage a Twitter account? I believe that given proper training and management tools, CEO’s can manage their social media activity efficiently and easily.

Aaron Levie is a very busy guy and yet he manages to tweet almost daily and sometimes, multiple times per day. He mostly does this via his Twitter iPhone client so clearly he’s doing this on-the-go, perhaps even between meetings. The key to managing it all is fluency with the medium and the right tool set.

The bottom line is this – do you believe your CEO doesn’t have time to build relationships with customers? Isn’t that a primary consideration for the role of CEO?

Still not convinced? Contact me and allow me to further prove my case.