The majority of leading US public (92%) and private (76%) company CEOs, as well as the top CEOs in Silicon Valley (86%) have enhanced their companies profile through online sociability - engaging with customers or thought leaders. In doing so, they have raised their visibility through social media channels with open dialogue and engagement, a report by Weber Shandwick suggests.
The report defines engagement as any open dialogue between the CEO and site visitor, such as responding to comments or joining in a discussion. For example, one CEO reports that he writes back to people who comment on his Facebook posts while another said that he responded to criticism about customer service and offered his email address to the customer to follow up on the issue.
"CEOs and other executives can amplify and deepen their company narratives by creating social content and sharing it online," said Chris Perry, chief digital officer, Weber Shandwick. "More CEOs have made the leap to communicating online to help shape their brands digitally and personalize the company. However, we are now at a point where CEOs need to truly embrace social engagement and move it up the next notch."
However, while CEO engagement amongst Silicon Valley outpaces the average CEOs, they are not making more extensive use of their platforms. Fewer than four in ten public and private company CEOs (38% each) have posted online within the past year. Silicon Valley CEOs have a slightly higher posting rate (41%), but not by much. Engagement levels are also low, with 22% of public company CEOs and 34% of private company CEOs interacting with other people online within the past year. Silicon Valley CEOs are the most engaging of the chief executives included in the audit (39%), just surpassing private company CEOs. It is noteworthy that when private and Silicon Valley company CEOs post, they typically engage.
"Engagement is the new presence when it comes to CEO sociability," said Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist, Weber Shandwick. "Distributing content online and engaging with stakeholders allows CEOs to humanize the conversation, demonstrate transparency and touchability, forge connections with stakeholders and to achieve the reputational advantage. Social engagement is more important than ever in this highly politicized climate and preparation is key."
The report also found that the company website is the top destination for public and private company CEO visibility with 90% of public company CEOs and 66% of private company CEOs having a presence beyond just their name and standard biography page. Silicon Valley CEOs are also likely to have a company website presence (65%), though social networks are their top platform. One in 10 public (8%), private (10%) and Silicon Valley company CEOs (8%t) have a "spotlight" page, or a centralized location of CEO messages, pictures, videos and speeches. One-third of public company CEOs (34%) have a presence on the careers page, a rate three times that of private (10%) and Silicon Valley company CEOs (10%).