Is Your CEO On Social Media? If Not, Your Business May Be At Risk.

Roughly 60 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are not active on any social media channel and fewer than 12 percent are active on more than one channel.

That’s surprising, especially given consumers’ overwhelming desire for transparency from businesses and business owners. Consistent headlines about data breaches and privacy concerns are surely to blame, leading 86% of Americans to say business transparency is more important today than ever before.

It’s no longer safe for businesses to stay silent on their values, business decisions, and political and social stances. Younger buyers, especially, are using digital transparency as a measuring stick to identify the companies they want to purchase from — and those they don’t.

That helps explain why an industry leader like Nike felt compelled to launch an advertising campaign with an athlete is polarizing as Colin Kaepernick. It’s simply a good business decision: some 86 percent of people are likely to take their business to a competitor when there’s a lack of transparency on social. (In fact, Nike’s sales surged in the days following the Kaepernick ad debut, suggesting that Nike’s competitors may be suffering from this very affliction.)  

CEOs are in a uniquely appropriate position to answer the consumer cry for business transparency on social media. Not only can they can speak to the rationale behind business decisions and give a compelling behind-the-scenes perspective, they can also share insights on industry trends that inspire consumer trust and interest.

Even so, nearly 90% of Fortune 500 chief executives are still missing the mark on social. They either don’t understand how social media supports business objectives or aren’t committed to using it effectively to achieve their goals.

That’s a risky situation for those businesses because a CEO’s reputation is directly responsible for 44% of a company’s market value. When you consider the impact on recruitment, corporate reputation, and stakeholder confidence, it becomes difficult to ignore the financial impact of an executive’s personal brand.

Sure, social media transparency is just one component of a powerful executive brand, but it’s an essential component. Not only do consumers want to know what a business stands for, they also want to know the same of the people running the company.

Transparency can even play a significant role in the long-term preservation of a business and its business owners. Think of it like an insurance policy: when brands are transparent and develop a history of transparency, nearly 90% of people are more likely to give them second chances after bad experiences and 85% are more likely to stick with them during crises.

At its core, a CEO’s social media strategy ought to appeal to the curiosities of its most important audiences, whether that be investors, consumers, or employees. According to a recent study by Sprout Social, when it comes to a CEO’s social media activity, consumers find the most value in the company’s reasoning behind business decisions, followed closely by industry thought leadership and inside looks at the company.

Though this type of information tops the charts when it comes to positively impacting consumers’ brand perception, executives with different priority audiences may find alternative content to be more effective. A focus on employee recruitment may necessitate sharing individual employee stories while a focus on investors may inspire more content about the CEO’s entrepreneurial experience and long-term vision.

Regardless of an executive’s target audience or social media focus, it’s important for their online activity to feel as authentic as possible. Whether CEOs choose to run their own social media profiles, manage it in-house or partner with a digital agency, their activity must feel relevant and representative. After all, most consumers set a higher standard of responsibility for business transparency on social media than they set for politicians, nonprofits, friends/family and even themselves.

Is that high bar due, in part, to the current lack of social transparency found among today’s Fortune 500 CEOs? Perhaps. Is there pressure for tomorrow’s executives to adapt or risk alienating their target consumers? Definitely.

Those willing to take their executive presence outside the boardroom and into the digital landscape are primed to enjoy a distinct competitive advantage. After all, simply posting on LinkedIn is enough to make you more socially transparent than the majority of today’s most successful CEOs.

22 Statistics That Prove the Value of Personal Branding

We live in a world where your online reputation can be your strongest asset or your biggest liability. A world where sales and marketing are better executed by employees with strong personal brands than by the brands themselves. A world where companies hire not based on resumes and cover letters, but on information they find online.

Today, it has never been easier to grow a massive following and become a celebrity in your industry.

Personal branding is becoming less of a competitive edge and more of a requirement for anyone looking to grow their business; get that dream job; or take their career to the next level.

Here are 22 essential statistics, which prove the overwhelming value of personal branding:

The power of employees' personal brands.

  • When brand messages are shared by employees on social media, they get 561 percent more reach than the same messages shared by the brand’s social media channels.

  • Brand messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when posted by an employee versus the brand’s social media channels.

  • On average, employees have 10 times more followers than their company's social media accounts.

  • Content shared by employees receives 8 times more engagementthan content shared by brand channels.

The bottom line is that we trust people more than we trust brands, and we engage with people more than we engage with brands. If you don’t get your employees involved on social, you’re absolutely losing out to companies that do.

Personal branding helps sales and marketing.

If you’re looking to grow your pipeline and get more attention for your offerings, then you’ll want to invest in personal branding initiatives. Train your sales and marketing teams to use the free tools at their disposal, such as social media, blogging, videos and webinars. People have so much going on these days that if you don’t make an effort to stand out, you risk getting left behind.

The power of social media in recruiting.

  • Employees at companies that invest in personal branding initiatives are 27 percent more likely to feel optimistic about their company's future; 20 percent are more likely to stay at their company; and 40 percent are more likely to believe their company is more competitive.

  • Of all recruiters, 95 percent believe that the job market will remain or become more competitive. If you don’t stand out online, your competition will.

  • Seventy-five percent of HR departments are required to search job applicants online.

  • Eighty-five percent of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals say that an employee’s online reputation influences their hiring decisions at least to some extent. Nearly half say that a strong online reputation influences their decisions to a great extent.

  • Seventy percent of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals have rejected candidates based on information they found online.

  • Of all executive recruiters, 90 percent say they conduct online research of potential candidates.

This one is pretty much a no-brainer. Imagine if you’re a hiring department - all else being equal -- wouldn’t you rather hire someone with an impressive digital presence over someone with no presence at all?

Successful companies want stand-out employees, and one way to gauge that is by your online reputation.

Personal branding for online reputation management.

  • Reputation damage is the No. 1 risk concern for business executives around the world, and 88 percent say they are explicitly focusing on reputation risk as a key business challenge.

  • Of all executives, 87 percent rate reputation risk as more important or much more important than other strategic risks their companies are facing.

  • Of respondents who experienced a reputation risk event, 41 percent say loss of revenue was the biggest impact.

Reputation has always been a big deal for companies, but now we have to contend with it both offline and online. With reputation damage as the No. 1 risk companies face today, it’s no wonder executives are preventatively investing in online reputation management as an insurance measure.

Growing your business with personal branding.

  • Out of all business decision makers, 84 percent start their buying process with a referral. And Google is the very first place people look after getting a referral.

  • Of all Internet users, 65 percent see online search as the most trusted source of information about people and companies. That’s a higher level of trust than any other online or offline source.

  • Fifty-three percent of decision makers have eliminated a vendor from consideration based on information they did or did not find about an employee online.

Even when consumers have a referral, they start their buying process online. What kind of first impression do you want to make? A terrific online presence lends credibility and gets customers excited while a bad or irrelevant online presence turns customers away.

And despite all of this...

Of the 75 percent of U.S. adults, who Google themselves, nearly half say the results aren’t positive.

If you don’t like the way you look online, there’s plenty you can do about it. If you’re serious about improving your personal brand and need a gentle kick in the pants, hop on my 28 Day Online Reputation Management Challenge. I’ll walk you through your first month, step-by-step, so you can build the foundation necessary to get your dream job; develop your career; and grow your business. The choice is yours.

A version of this article originally published on; infographic made with Visme.