Why Are Top CEOs Afraid Of Social Media?

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A recent report by Domo and CEO.com showed that while they are pushing their companies to establish new avenues of marketing, of course including social media, the vast majority of top CEOs are shunning the same social network participation that they are approving for their brands. Essentially ignoring the clamor from their companies’ social media followers and fans for direct access to their pearls of wisdom, an inordinate number of top ranked brand CEOs are steadfast in their refusal to engage their customers directly. What are they afraid of?
94.4 percent of CEOs don’t have a Twitter account
The statistics are staggering and damning at the same time. An almost unbelievable 68 percent of all top CEOs have no presence whatsoever on any of the major social networks, and this includes Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and even that bastion of the C-Suite, LinkedIn. While the fact that more than two out of every three top CEOs fail the social media presence test, the figures get completely out of kilter when we analyze the number of CEOs from Fortune 500 corporations who have Twitter presences. Out of 500, there are only 28 who are on the microblog king of social media and a gobsmacking 472 who aren’t! That’s a rate of just 5.6 percent and that is literally unbelievable.
One third of the few CEOs with Twitter accounts are dormant
It’s actually a bit worse than that. Out of the 5.6 percent of CEOs who are Twitter users, only two thirds of them actually use their microblogging accounts on anything that could even be remotely be referred to as regular use. One third of them have accounts that are either dormant or nearly dormant, while some of them are outright fakes. For example, Warren Buffett recently tweeted “Warren is in the house” as his very first tweet and that was doubly interesting as it came from an account which had never seen a tweet previously as well as the fact that the account was one that had been previously believed to be a fake! It was another account which most of the media had assumed was Buffett’s real account (albeit dormant) which was the fake one.
An inordinate number of fake followers
When CEOs actually do start tweeting, the results are nothing short of spectacular. In the three hours after Buffett’s first tweet, he racked up more than 130,000 new followers. Some of the other CEOs who have also demonstrated that the power of the top dawg in the C-Suite is indisputable when it comes to racking up Twitter followers include Rupert Murdoch, Ralph Lauren, Marissa Mayer, and Larry Ellison. Another rather strange phenomenon is that a significant number of the followers of the precious few CEOs who tweet at all is made up of outright fakers. A remarkable 30 percent of all of Mark Zuckerberg’s followers exist only in digital form (and possibly in The Hooded One’s mind). Buffett’s own following includes 22 percent fakers, and his fellow Top CEOs Rupert Murdoch and Marissa Mayer are not far behind him with 20 percent and 18 percent faker ratios respectively.
Google+ is widely ignored by CEOs
Twitter is not the only social network to have a virtually infinitesimal percentage of top CEOs with presences on its pages. Google+ has done a miserable job of attracting Fortune 500 CEOs with just five! That’s just one percent with a presence on Google+ compared to 99 percent who are shunning the Googleplex’s social network outright. Even more damning is a CEO Information Consumption Report finding that fewer than 15 percent of all CEOs found that Google+ was in any way valuable in their work. This statistic is very surprising given that Google+ is the home of Google Hangouts which has been widely acknowledged to be a considerable productivity tool… everywhere but in the C-Suite it seems.

It is difficult to determine the precise reasons for this widespread shunning of social media by CEOs. It could be lack of time, unwillingness to expose themselves to flaming, or outright fear. Whatever the reason, it certainly displays a massive hole in the universality of social media.

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