Chief Executive Officers may have been the last to join the social media revolution, but they are slowly starting to catch up with the rest. The latest numbers have up to 80 percent of global CEOs engaged on social media although newer CEOs are participating 52 percent more than their tenured counterparts. On the other hand, these CEOs are mainly vested in LinkedIn accounts and efforts generated from the company’s own website. In 2014, zero CEOs reported using Facebook–down from 10 percent the previous year. There were no CEOs on Google+, and only ten percent were using Twitter.
The statistics reveal that CEOs are starting to embrace social media a bit, but they also show that there is considerable room for improvement. This is especially true for networks where customers are most likely to be rather than other CEOs and business professionals. Up to 32 percent of North American employees are contributing content on behalf of the company to expand the reach of current branding efforts and create new channels for drawing in new customers. Their executive officers are not.
CEOs and Employee Advocacy in Social Media
Social media is now as mainstream as television, radio, and other media outlets. Almost every single one of the top 100 brands in the world are using YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Facebook recently achieved an astonishing benchmark: 1 billion people logged in to the social network in a single day for the first time–that is one out of every seven people on Earth. The ubiquitous nature of today’s social media has provided companies with active channels to promote marketing activities, boost customer service and retention actions, recruit new employees, and keep tabs on the competition.
Because there is often little overlap between a company’s activity on social media and the activity of the company’s employees, there is a tremendous opportunity to significantly broaden the reach of branding, advertising, and recruiting efforts with an employee advocacy program. Many people are inadvertently advertising their ambassador status when they list an employer on their social media profiles. Employee advocacy takes this a step further by supporting and encouraging intentional communication and sharing of content with an employee’s social network.
In order to maximize these efforts, a leadership team must not only guide employees through the process of distributing content on social media, but also to ensure that employee contributions benefit the company and stay away from troublesome contributions. The executive team must also support and participate in employee advocacy programs if they are to be successful.
Executive participation shows an understanding of the power behind advocacy programs and a willingness of the company to embrace activities that will effectively change the culture within the enterprise. Aside from being good leaders by example, CEO participation also shows a willingness to buy in to the measure as employees may not want to participate in sharing the company’s message when the CEO is not willing to do it either.
A Starting Point for Social CEOs
For CEOs that have shied away from social media so far, or for those who are only engaging in peer networks and activities, employee advocacy programs can provide a natural launching point to start joining networks that have greater visibility. As CEOs become advocates for the businesses they are running, they demonstrate acceptance of the fact that social business is the new normal and not a passing trend. The result is greater visibility for the company, and an increase in value of the CEO to the enterprise.
Even more importantly, when the leadership of a company becomes involved in social media programs, it encourages more employees to participate. A recent Gallup report shows that companies with engaged employees are 21 percent more productive than their disengaged counterparts. In other words, CEOs can indirectly affect the productivity levels of their employees by encouraging engagement with the company and, therefore, boost the profitability of the entire enterprise.
While CEOs may not have to be as active as their employee advocates, in a time when an increasing amount of value is placed on an individual’s level of social media savvy, it would be a mistake for CEOs to pass by this opportunity to join the social media movement and become part of the culture that is spreading throughout businesses worldwide. It would be an even bigger mistake for CEOs not to support the establishment and provide enough resources for their won internal employee advocacy program.
Want to learn more about employee advocacy? Check out these resources:
- How to Create an Employee Advocacy Program free ebook
- A Look at Cathay Pacific Airway’s Employee Advocacy Program
- A Session on Employee Advocacy will be Featured at the Social Tools Summit in San Francisco
I’m curious: Is your CEO the biggest champion of your employee advocacy program?