Only one tenth of chief executives in Asia Pacific are active on social media according to a Hootsuite report, Social Executive: How to Influence Trust, Transparency, and the Bottom Line.
However, when further segmented into separate regions, 93% of ASEAN 100 companies have a social media presence with 53% of CEOs from ASEAN 100 companies active on socail media. This is higher than leaders of Fortune 500 companies (39%).
This report follows a recent one about how Instagram users in Australia engage with food and hospitality brands.
“In order to communicate the ideas and beliefs that drive us, and to invite conversations around the same, meaningful presence on social media becomes absolutely vital. The value it has created for Futurebrands is both tangible, in terms of greater interest in the advisory service we offer, and intangible, by way of the kind of engaged conversations we have sparked off through our social media provocations,” said Santosh Desai, managing director & CEO, Futurebrands, India.
Meanwhile 70% of CEOs believe that participating on social media is risky.
“Corporate reputation and business performance are increasingly dependent on social media. Social executives have more success inspiring employees, attracting new customers and talent, and building loyalty and trust,” said Rich Meiklejohn, general manager, Asia Pacific, Hootsuite.
“Having the support and involvement of all teams within an organisation is crucial to help executives build an active professional brand on social media channels,” he added.
"We’ve encouraged employees to explore how online discourse through social media can empower them as global professionals, innovators and citizens. Through these interactions, IBM's greatest asset—the expertise of its employees—can be shared with clients, shareholders, and the communities in which we operate." Nishan Weerasinghe, chief marketing officer, IBM Systems for cloud Platforms, Asia Pacific
However, is the sacrifice between brand messaging and expressing personality by senior executives worth the risk?
“Consumers today expect brands to be more human, authentic and trustworthy. As brand ambassadors, CEOs and key executives can put a human face to the brand. Companies with leaders active on social media are perceived 23% more positively. Even in challenging situations, CEOs with a track record of timely responses to difficult questions, such as Tony Fernandez at AirAsia have created measurable improvements in perception,” said Roger Graham, senior director, growth and marketing, APAC, Hootsuite.
Even the potential onslaught of negative feedback hitting the senior executives from the public could prove to be a boon.
“Customers will provide positive and negative feedback on social and both represent an opportunity to show an authentic side of brand leadership. Handling feedback well will foster trust and will demonstrate that the executive is actively involved in the betterment of the customer experience,” said Graham.
“With the proliferation of digital profiles and information, it’s nearly impossible for executives to hide from public opinion and specific social connections provide a unique opportunity to manage the messaging directly. The alternative would be for the customers to share within their closed, private circles, where the brand may not be in a position to respond until it’s too late,” he added.