CEOs are notorious for keeping it close to the vest when it comes to communications. However, as social media moves to the core of marketing communications, that may (finally) be starting to change.
In 2012, 66% of CEOs from the world’s top companies engaged online, compared to 36% found in a similar study in 2010, according to a study released this week by PR agency Weber Shandwick.
Online engagement is defined by the agency as presence on company websites and video usage.
In fact, the creation of videos starring CEOs has exploded, jumping to 40% in 2012, from from 18% in 2010, the study says. No doubt this jump is predicated on the ability to script content, edit videos and control their distribution— which are all arrows in the PR quiver.
A little less safe is the CEO’s foray into social media. Here the gains were minimal—18% in 2012 from 16% in 201. Why isn't the needle moving here? Many of these CEOs operate in highly regulated industries and/or lead public companies that are subject to stringent SEC rules—situations in which conversational or off-the-cuff remarks could be disastrous.
In a Forbes blog post last September, David Shaywitz argued that most CEOs really shouldn’t be on Twitter and should be more concerned with the operational aspects of running a company. That's the way most CEOs roll. The more free-spirited corporate tweeters, such as Howard Shultz of Starbucks, Virgin’s Richard Branson and Tony Hsieh of Zappos, can afford to be on Twitter because they founded their companies and have visionary status.
Still, a 2% gain is better than nothing. “We should recognize that CEOs may be more comfortable now just being social listeners, social observers and big data gatherers rather an social engagers," said Chris Perry, president of Weber Shandwick's digital practice, in a statement.
The fact that CEOs are becoming more comfortable with video portends well for the future. They have to learn to crawl before they walk.
What do you think? Should more CEOs take the social-media plunge?
See the study infographic below:
Source: Weber Shandwick
Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01