Social Media Must be a Priority for CEOs

July 1, 2017

Werth Social Media CEOs Photo lr

Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Arianna Huffington all have one thing in common – they are among the rare breed of organizational leader who takes a personal role in leveraging the power of mass communications.

It’s not just the household names of the corporate world who have discovered the tremendous value of communicating directly with the public. CEOs such as Humana’s Bruce Broussard, with 191,000 LinkedIn followers; Unilever’s Paul Polman, with 34,000 Twitter followers; and HotelTonight’s Sam Shank, with 20,000 Twitter followers have established themselves as the faces and voices of their brands in a concrete, recognizable way. Anand Mahindra, executive chairman of Mahindra Group, boasts a whopping 5 million Twitter followers.

Of course, being seen and heard requires using the most effective channels available. Many executives recognize this. A study by Weber Shandwick found that 76 percent of all executives think CEOs should be active on social media. But, according to a report by, most CEOs seem uncomfortable with this role. Some 60 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence at all. Of those who do, 70 percent use only LinkedIn.

In fact, as people like Chrysler’s Lee Iacocca proved even before the advent of social media, CEOs are positioned to be the most effective communicators in their organizations.

Here’s why: They possess superior knowledge in their areas of expertise. They care deeply about their businesses and their brands. They have credibility because of their accomplishments or their standing within their industries. And, they have the power of persuasion to change behavior.

Embracing the power of social media requires CEOs to find the time, the tone and the most effective platforms for telling their stories. Twitter, for example, may support a B2B company’s earned media efforts while LinkedIn may give that same company a direct line of communications with its prospective customers.

Regardless of the specific approach to social media, there’s no doubt that leveraging the power of the C-suite can help organizations win the communication battle, while ignoring it gives up the fight before it’s even begun.