Chief executive officers at leading corporations don't participate in most of the popular social media sites. Is it because they don't have enough time? Are they worried about legal issues? Or do they tend to be technology illiterate? Whatever the reason, they may be missing out on important opportunities.
CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are participating in social media channels significantly less than the general public, according to a new study sponsored by Domo and CEO.com.
The 2012 Fortune 500 Social CEO Index found that among major social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, the presence of Fortune 500 CEOs was minimal at best, with only 8% on Facebook, 4% on Twitter, and less than 1% on Google Plus. By contrast, more than 50% of the U.S. population uses Facebook and 34% uses Twitter.
However, there is one site where CEOs lead -- LinkedIn. A total of 26% are on this network, compared to just 20% of the U.S. general public.
Reasons given for avoiding social networking includes the fact that it seems overwhelming, CEOs don't have enough time, and fear of mistakes becoming magnified. Is the lack of CEOs on social networks a bad thing? By ignoring social networking, CEOs are denying their organizations new opportunities to connect with markets, according to Josh James, Domo founder and CEO:
We really expected to see more social engagement from CEOs, especially since the benefits of social media are no longer just wishful thinking. CEOs who use social media are growing their businesses, attracting lifelong customers, generating exposure for their companies and closing new deals. As consumers become more social savvy, so must company leaders. We expect to see CEOs getting more and more social in the near future.
Which CEOs are taking the lead with social networks? Of the 38 Fortune 500 CEOs on Facebook, Michael Rapino of Live Nation Entertainment has the most friends, with 1,723. Rupert Murdoch of News Corp, with 249,000 followers, is now the most-followed Fortune 500 CEO, surpassing HP's Meg Whitman who was in the number one spot when the survey was taken.
Among the 20 Fortune 500 CEOs who have opened Twitter accounts, 5 have never tweeted. (Note: At the end of the survey, only 19 CEOs had Twitter accounts. Oracle's Larry Ellison joined Twitter after the survey was completed, boosting the number to 20.) The average number of followers for Fortune 500 CEOs with Twitter accounts is 33,250.