Can CEOs Use Social Media to Improve Business Performance?

Consumer purchase behaviors are based on personal, social and cultural factors. Personal and cultural factors may be difficult to influence through technology, but social factors are becoming much more pliable due to rapid innovation in technology that has enabled social media to be one of the best ways to promote a company.

A consumer that is purchasing from a business can and should be influenced

through social media.  In a business to business purchase transaction, if a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Quotation (RFQ) is used, it may be more difficult to use social media to influence the purchasing team that makes this decision.

Setting up and using a social media site is straight-forward and can easily be accomplished on any Smartphone.  There is no technology barrier that might prevent CEOs from using social media to promote their business. So, if that’s the case, then why is that just 32 percent of today’s Fortune 500 CEOs engage on social media?  

There are likely many good reasons why some top CEOs are not plugged into the social media scene , but that should not excuse why they are not taking advantage of this effective technology to promote their company’s vision and brand in order to attract customers and partners.

An excellent example of a CEO that embraced the use of his Smartphone and the power of his voice on social media was the late Tony Hsieh, Zappos.com CEO.  For many years,

Hsieh (pronounced “shay”) has used Twitter and has amassed many followers. His perspective is that business is a function of people connecting with other people and that is exactly what he has been able to accomplish by using Twitter to promote the service excellence that his company provides.  Hsieh also encourages his employees to actively participate on Facebook to share their experiences about working at Zappos. The employee posts are personal, which in turn encourages Zappos customers to share equally personal posts about their experiences as Zappos customers. The dialogue is engaging and therefore relevant.

As a CEO there are so many social media tools  to choose from.  The other complicating variable is finding the time to create relevant posts on the right social media tool in order for customers to understand the company’s mission and to establish the company as a trusted and credible company in the industry.  Then there is the question of weeding out adding more clutter or “noise” on social media, versus actionable social media.

The age of digitization can make us that much closer to customers and the community or industry that we cater to – but only if the CEO is creating meaningful information that can be implemented by the reader, or will attract new customers.

There are many CEOs that are on Twitter and who tweet daily.  Warren Buffet, for example, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway has the most followers of all Fortune 500 company CEOs with a total of 844,731.  Buffet is using Twitter to create credibility not only for his company, but for his views and opinions. Another Twitter juggernaut is Ralph Lauren, with 769,403 followers. So for those naysayers that say that age may be a reason why CEOs are not effectively leveraging social media platforms, I offer Buffet and Lauren as two savvy, established, seasoned CEOs that are using social media in a powerful way.

According to the brandfog 2014 “The Global Social CEO Survey” : social CEOs make better leaders, social CEO engagement leads to brand trust, and, social media is now the modern equivalent of PR.  Does this mean that those CEOs that are engaged in actionable social media are leading companies that outperform their competitors? That is highly likely given that their use of social tools elevates them in leadership and company brand perception.

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