Digital Insights

The Importance of A CEO to Social Media Marketing


Published: January 16, 2015

The majority of consumers quite correctly identify the CEO as the highest authority in an organization, and they expect the “big boss” to take an active role in representing the company through social media. Consumers really don’t care how busy the CEO might be in managing the business – all they know is that if the top man or woman gets involved, the issue is important and deserving of attention.

Take a pressing customer service problem, for example. How many times have you personally reached an impasse with a customer service representative and asked to speak with a supervisor? You instinctively knew that the higher up you went in the organization, the more likely your issue would receive a full and proper hearing. If the owner of the company happened to personally step in and listen to your story, you immediately felt your level of comfort rise because you knew that your issue was in good hands.

Social media works the same way:

  • The more the CEO is involved, the more consumers feel that a company truly cares about their concerns.
  • The level of trust that the social media community bestows on a company is in direct proportion to the extent of the CEO’s involvement.

How Involved are Top Executives in Their Brand’s Social Media Efforts?
The short answer is not nearly enough. A study of the social media engagement of the CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies found that 68 percent have no identifiable presence on any major social network. Perhaps they don’t feel they have the time to devote to social media, or have not yet been convinced of the power of social media as a communications channel. Whatever the reason, the failure to lend their authoritative voice to the social media effort is doing their entire organization a great disservice.

Back in the days before the term “social media” had even been invented, Chrysler president and CEO Lee Iacocca demonstrated the “power of the office” in his advocacy for the financially troubled automaker. Iacocca put his personal prestige and reputation on the line by serving as spokesperson in a series of ads for Chrysler that helped turn the company around and emerge from bankruptcy seven years earlier than expected.

“If you can find a better car, buy it,” Iacocca advised Americans, who trusted his words and bought Chrysler products by the thousands. If Facebook and Twitter had been around in Iacocca’s time, you can bet he would have been posting and tweeting up a storm, and might have even been able to bring Chrysler out of bankruptcy sooner. Sadly, there are very few CEOs of Iacocca’s caliber around today, and the business community as a whole is the worse for it.

How to Become a CEO Social Media Superstar
Your CEO needs to communicate in the language of the audience if your social posts are going to make a real connection. Style sheets prepared by a social team member who is a closer match to the target audience can help give your CEO a better feeling for the appropriate phrasing to use.

An effective CEO should project his or her own personality into the posting. Social media is not the place for anyone to pretend to be someone they’re not. The best policy is to keep all posts straight-forward, honest, and consistent in style.

A CEO should always post their own material – even if their early attempts are awkward. Providing a little guidance is fine, but the CEO needs to develop his or her unique persona in order to become an effective social media communicator.