The 3 C's of Social Media for CEOs

This was the year that chief executive officers found their social footing.

Weber Shandwick came to this conclusion after tracking the rates of CEO online and social media presence since 2010. Now, a whopping 80 percent of CEOs from the world's top companies are engaged online and via social media. For comparison, only 36 percent of CEOs were social in 2010 (see image).

To what impact does reputation and online CEO engagement have on a company's bottom line? A lot. For starters, Weber Shandwick reports highly regarded CEOs are more than three times as likely as CEOs with weak reputations to partipate in social media. Further, a CEO's reputation can account for 45 percent of a company's reputation and 44 percent of its market value. For those C-Suite holdouts, who think the damage they could cause outweighs the reputation advantage, consider the following three C's of social media. 


While CEOs should regularly publish thought-leadership content for company blogs, YouTube channels and publications with like-minded audiences, their own content won't drive the high levels of interest CEOs will need to garner. Rather than only sharing content about their enterprises, CEOs will need to curate content from other news sites, social media networks, etc. What are some of their favorite blogs to read? Those are the ones they should be sharing, because not only does it provide their followers with a range of topics, but also gives them a glimpse inside what makes this CEO successful, a credible source of information and the voice of their industry. Data from Curata shows that more than 50 percent of marketers that curate content indicate that it has increased their brand visibility, thought leadership, SEO, Web traffic and buyer engagement - all from sharing material the CEO is already reading (like the CEO of Box does).


Maintaining a consistent social media presence is one of the most well-known social media best practices for businesses large and small. Since a CEO's time is limited, however, consistently posting to the different networks could be an issue. Instead of handing over their accounts to a trusted colleague, they should use tools like Buffer, SproutSocial or Hootsuite, which can work for them when they can't. With Buffer, particularly, a CEO can add the extension to Chrome, so while they are browsing the Web, they can simply hit the extension's icon and Buffer will post the article at the next optimal time (this is set up when creating an account and when the user indicates how often they expect to post).

Finally, depending on the medium, a CEO can use the same posts in different ways. On Twitter, for example, the lifecycle of a tweet is very, very short. While a CEO won't want to post the same message repeatedly (that's a great way to lose followers), they can change up the copy, such as on the second go-around include, "Did you see this?" before the previously used text and link or, "I'm still loving this article" or "Still very relevant to ___." Website Magazine will do this on occasion when a piece of content should be seen again. 

& Carefully

As Web professionals know, the reason many CEOs were slow to jump on the social bandwagon was for fear of making mistakes - offending someone, revealing company secrets, being non-compliant, etc. With the high levels of adoption, it's clear that this fear has subsided, but it's still important to take cautious measures before sending out anything. Even with a social media profile disclaimer like, "Tweets do not reflect the position or thoughts of X company" everything the CEO posts will be held against them (and their brands). That can also be to great positive effect though too. One way to be cautious is to schedule posts in advance with the aforementioned Buffer, SproutSocial or Hootsuite. While participating in social media during live events (like an awards show, sporting event or company get-together) can increase audience engagement, the CEO may want to opt out of this real-time nature and opt for more vetted posts or retweets from trusted (or even complimentary) sources.

The above advice will serve CEOs well as they continue or begin their social media journeys. Every CEO will be different, but curating content consistently and carefully is a recipe for social success. Finally, it's important to remember that a CEO's social following is the result of their past or current success in a certain field. While sharing personal photos and thoughts is a good touch now and again, the majority of people are likely following the CEO for their thoughts on the industry or company they represent (like the CEO of SpaceX does).

CEO's can set followers' expectations by including what they are going to share in their bio information (most often this is done on Twitter).