At one point a few years ago, many execs dismissed social media as a fad -- a playground for kids or something for which they simply didn’t have time. Whatever the reason at that moment, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since they made that decision. More than a billion people use social networks, and brands are allocating billions of dollars to social audiences.
As our friends, families and customers become increasingly interconnected, executives who aren’t using social channels to communicate and stay abreast of news and events can find themselves isolated on a remote island, separated from their marketplaces and peers by an ocean of information they can’t access.
Related Article: How to Build an Effective Executive Social Media Presence
The C-suite are still significantly underrepresented on social networks, according the Social CEO Report from CEO.com, which found that 68% of Fortune 500 CEOs have no presence on the five major social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram.) The good news for brand leaders who haven’t established themselves online is this: it’s not too late to get started.
The case for getting connected
Developing an effective social media presence requires investment in time and attention. However, by getting connected on social networks, the C-suite can capture remarkable efficiencies and insights, including:
- A clear view of brand reputation. The audience always tells the truth. There is simply no better barometer of brand reputation than the social audience. Social data offer an empiric view of brand reputation and marketplace sentiment.
- Collaborative problem solving. The social hive mind solves problems quickly. Social groups are good at ad-hoc collaboration, and can band together to effect a solution with breathtaking speed and effectiveness.
- Innovation. That same hive mind is continually surfacing, testing and refining great ideas. Innovation is a real challenge for most brands, but inspiration and rapid feedback are literally at their fingertips within connected digital communities.
- Audience insight. Big audiences = big data. Information and data are the currency of the attention marketplace, and social networks serve as global exchanges, offering the savvy C-suite a rich source of data.
- Fiduciary duty. According to marketing budget data from StrongView, 48.5% of marketers polled plan to increase budget on social media in 2015.
In addition to delivering insights that inform strategy and improve business decision-making, developing a strong social presence can differentiate an executive’s personal brand. The relative absence of the C-suite from social network means it’s not too late for an exec with C-suite ambitions to get a leg up on the competition by acquiring the social fluency that is expected to become a key attribute company boards seek in company leaders in the coming years. As budgets, brands, operations and audiences become more and more socially connected, leaders with solid social media chops will have a distinct advantage over those who don’t.