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World — 64% of most important CEOs are not 'social' online

14 October 2010

A new survey published by global public relations firm Weber Shandwick found that the majority of CEOs from the world's largest companies (64%) are 'not social', i.e. they are not engaging online with external stakeholders. "Socialising Your CEO: From (Un)Social to Social" examines the publicly visible communications activities of CEOs in the world's top 50 companies.

Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick's Chief Reputation Strategist and Online Reputation Expert, said "strong evidence exists that CEOs are not silent in these turbulent times. They are extensively quoted in the business press, frequently deliver keynote speeches at conferences and participate in business school forums. But when it comes to digital engagement externally, CEOs are not yet fully socialised, often with good reason. As we continue to track the rise of the Social CEO and chief executives become more comfortable with the new media, we expect that this will change and change fast."

Limited Pool of Social CEOs

Over nine out of 10 CEOs in the world's top 50 companies (93%) communicated externally in traditional fashion: 93% were quoted in the major global news and business publications and 40% participated in speaking engagements to an external, non-investor, audience.

Online communications did not fare as well among this executive set. Most CEO online visibility is limited to what is said about them on Wikipedia, the web-based collaborative encyclopaedia which CEOs and their communications teams are not responsible for. Removing Wikipedia leaves the online CEO space rather barren, only 36% are engaged through their company websites or in social media channels in any way (e.g., CEO messages on company websites, video/podcasts on company websites or company YouTube channels, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, company-affiliated blogs).

Which Online Channels are Social CEOs Using?

When CEOs go Social, they are most likely to post non-shareholder letters or messages on their company websites (28%). This content is primarily focused on corporate and CEO leadership news. Social CEOs are next most likely to be featured in video or podcasts on their corporate websites or company YouTube channels (18%). Less than 10% of the CEOs analysed used Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn or participated in external blogs.

Chris Perry, president of Weber Shandwick Digital Communications, said "it is not surprising that CEOs are less inclined to participate in social media given the perceived risk and time commitment required to engage in two-way conversations. What's surprising, however, is how few CEOs are using social technologies as mediums to share information and company perspective. These are potentially powerful tools for real-time communication."

To read a summary of the report please click here



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