Social media is here to stay. Yet there is one group that has been slow to acceptance – the C-Suite. And it isn’t because they don’t get it – this IBM study of 1,700 CEO’s across 64 countries demonstrates that CEO’s are aware of the transformative power of social media.

Yet 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs don’t participate in social media…at all.

Carreen Winters
By Carreen Winters
Social commitment phobes often cite the time involved to be truly engaged, but underlying the fear of time is fear of the unknown.

They believe that social media is the wild, wild west – uncontrollable, dangerous and out in the public square, leaving them exposed and vulnerable.

Understandable. For people who have their calls screened, their travel carefully orchestrated and their schedules planned and managed like a military operation, that is exactly the point.

Access, insight and engagement with customers, employees and influencers can improve your competitive position, and some would argue, benefit shareholders as well.

Here are the three biggest reasons we hear at MWW about why clients won’t take the social plunge…and the antidotes:

1. I don’t have time to commit – social media lends itself well to the time crunched, moving in a million directions executive. It is quick, easy and works in headlines, rather than novellas. ING Canada’s CEO Peter Aceto has some great advice on how to schedule tweets in advance, and keep it authentic.

2. No one is really paying attention – This BRANDfog study makes some pretty compelling points, and focuses on CEO participation in social rather than the brand: 93% believe a Social CEO improves reputation in good times and bad; 82% are more likely to trust a company with a social CEO, 81% think a Social CEO is a better equipped leader; 77% more likely to buy a product or service from a company with a Social CEO. And that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the role of a social profile in garnering more traditional media attention.

3. “My peers aren’t doing it, so why should I?”: - Isn’t that the point? Leaders go first. And while your current peers may not be doing it – your scrappier, growing competitors probably are – and they are using it to engage your customers and your employees to grow their business. Joining the ranks of @MichaelDell, @BillGates and @richardbranson might be the kind of company your CEO should keep.

What excuses are you making, or hearing, about avoiding social media, and how do you combat them? Please share your stories and advice.


Carreen Winters is executive VP-crisis communications at MWW Group.