Social media is fast gaining influence in the business world, but there's one demographic almost completely untouched: chief executives. Forrester Research took a look at the CEOs at the Fortune top 100 global corporations and none has a social profile. Six defunct Twitter accounts surfaced and even fewer active blogs. Even at some of the world's top tech companies, the CEOs aren't socialites.
Age is one obstacle.The average Fortune 100 CEO is 59, which is squarely in the "typewriter and White-Out" generation. Also, CEOs have a different risk profile than other executives; they answer to boards of directors and risk offending customers, employees or political allies.Then there's the issue of time. CEOs often are too busy to maintain a blog or Twitter account.
Forrester's POST methodology can help determine whether a social initiative is a good fit for a CEO.
People: Look at the audience you'll reach. If your customers, employees, or whoever you're trying to touch aren't social, then these channels won't be effective.
Objectives: What do you want to accomplish? The social realm can be a great place to listen to customers, competition, employees. You can use your voice to energize brand enthusiasts and even embrace and act on customer feedback (a phenomenon we're witnessing increasingly).
Strategy: How will you accomplish your objectives? A CEO shouldn't go it alone. Staff the effort and sanction the resources necessary to succeed.
Technology: With your audience, objectives, and strategy in mind, you can evaluate the most appropriate technology.
For CEOs, though, time will always be an issue. That's why I'm proposing a new model: Social Light. This model isn't about a quest for friends or followers. The Social CEO should be wisdom-centric, not follower-centric. Do a blog post four to eight times a year. Tweet 12 to 24 times a year. As a Social Light CEO, you could help your company attract and retain strong employees, loyal customers, and the right partners to make your business more successful.