What the Twitter-shy CEO is missing

A recent CEO.com survey found the vast majority of US business leaders remain stubbornly unsocial.

More than two-thirds of Fortune 500 CEOs have no presence at all on any of the major social media networks. Only 42 chief executives have a Twitter account and only 69% of these are actually tweeting.

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Here in Australia, the picture is remarkably similar. Only a handful of ASX 100 CEOs have an active Twitter account. Alongside our best-known tweeter, Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch), prominent Twitter users include Wesfarmers’ Richard Goyder (@RGoyder) and Telstra’s David Thodey (@davidthodey) who uses Twitter to respond directly to customers.

The social shyness of many CEOs is understandable. They’ll tell you they don’t have the time, they don’t see the point or they’re fearful of inadvertently damaging their company’s reputation.

But those who don’t tweet are missing an opportunity to engage in a very direct and human way with customers, employees and shareholders. An online executive presence can help evolve and protect a company’s reputation, not least through its immediate responsiveness.

There’s no need for a time-poor CEO to shoulder the burden unaided. A Twitter strategy involves the communications team in calendar planning, crafting content, scheduling posts and monitoring for risks and opportunities.

The same applies for LinkedIn, a far more popular social platform among senior executives. Managing a CEO’s LinkedIn profile is now a staple job requirement for corporate communicators.

While the CEO.com survey suggests we’re not quite yet in the age of the social CEO, there are good reasons for business leaders to set their Twitter jitters aside.

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