Why some CEOs don’t use social media (and why some shouldn’t!)

According to a new study released by CEO.com and business analyst firm DOMO (Social CEO Report), a whopping 68% of CEOs among Fortune 500 surveyed don’t have a social media account!

This coincides with another study that was recently released that reveals that most CEOs don’t understand the ROI of digital engagement forms such as marketing automation, social media engagement, and the digital age in general.

What is the root cause for this issue? Is it fear of embracing new technology? Are some too old to ‘get it’? Or is it that some CEOs simply don’t see the value in digital engagement? Communicative CEOs and successful leaders get better grades on leadership from their own employees, and are viewed as innovative and forward facing, so this conundrum is rooted not in technology but in a perceptual factor of how we view ‘information’.  Is the information we have valued for aiding collaboration or do we view withholding information as power? Understanding this paradigm requires us to understand the CEO behind it.

Activated CEOs already communicate digitally via text when they want something done. They use their company’s proposal and CRM portal to track leads and opportunities. In other words, they consider information and data as a collaborative commodity that increases in value as more input is being infused. Meanwhile, Un-Activated CEOs truly and sincerely believe that the less people know, the better. They believe information is inherently proprietary which is anchored in building their relational capital via networking offline, on the golf course and in the country club.

Consequentially, why on earth would they share their personally earned contact with anyone who hasn’t earned it? Don’t scold them because they are right in their own paradigm.

So what’s the right balance? Should CEOs use social media to look ‘hip’, ‘cool’ and ‘innovative,’ or should they stay away?

Here are four key strategies that I recommend to our client CEOs, depending on their rooted view of how they view information.

1. Social media is an enabler to extrapolate your audience, as you become a publisher of your own thoughts and opinions. Social networking allows you to capitalize on connecting to people with like-minded interests. But you have to have an agenda with clear talking points that align with the brand you want to project. Create clear talking points around your areas of expertise and stick to them. Don’t comment on issues that don’t add value to your executive brand.

2. If you’ve got nothing to say, say nothing. Nothing is better than something stupid. Looking foolish on social media by making comments just for the sake of ‘coolness’ are off-brand and will hurt you more than help you.

3. Ignore the studies that declare you must be on social media. You don’t have to unless it’s relevant to your business. The real business impact that you should be caring about is your overall executive reputation, in which online digital presence is a strategic component of, and is simply another extension to your overall brand equity, personally and professionally.

4. Align your personal digital brand and your corporate digital brand. Activating your personal CEO brand by posting on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter must be fully aligned with the corporate interests of your organization. Too often, pictures of a CEO drinking beer with their buddies at a football game tailgate party could be misconstrued when the company they represent is dealing with a sensitive issue, let’s say related to an unpopular and restrictive ‘Happy Hour’ policy.

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