Opinion

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CEOs who engage with LinkedIn and Twitter can foster trust and familiarity, says Thomas Vollrath.

‘Social media - putting the customer in the boardroom’ is a phrase we are hearing more about, and for good reason. It emphasises the important role that these channels can play in everyday business life. Indeed, without a presence on social media, an organisation is in real danger of falling behind competitors who are using it as a sophisticated tool for building brand equity.

However, any medium that allows customers direct access to the upper echelons of an organisation has risks. There have been many examples of ‘social media disasters’ where companies have been embarrassed after a misplaced Tweet or Linkedin conversation. Other pitfalls include time and interest. Many CEOs have started the social media journey but run out of time or interest – the disappearance of a CEO from a blog or a Twitter account that has not been updated for weeks has as much of an impact on the perception of a company than anything else. Ensuring that the CEO is fully engaged and allocates time to the process is crucial for those tasked with running social media.

However, a CEO that is interested in the impact social media can have, tuned to what is acceptable to say and more importantly, what is not and that is committed to regularly posting, is worth their weight in gold.

Below are four reasons why CEOs should be on social media:

1. Profiling the personality behind the brand

Taking to Twitter, Linkedin or even contributing to a blog gives a CEO the opportunity to show customers, potential customers, suppliers and employees a side to their personality that might not normally come out in more official documents and events – crucial to helping build brand equity.

2. Engaging with customers

The fact that social media means customers have a regular, direct contact, with the CEO is often the reason that many give for not engaging. However, a tool that allows you to engage directly with end users is too important to ignore. It can also give the CEO a first-hand insight into how customers think – something that was almost impossible a few years ago. It means that if somebody has a reasonable complaint it allows the CEO to make necessary changes and ensure the company is working better.

3. Trust 

In a survey conducted in the US in 2012 by a company called Brandfrog, 82 per cent of respondents were more likely or much more likely to trust a company whose CEO and leadership team engage with social media. This is a remarkable statistic but shows the increasing emphasis that the public places on CEOs having some kind of presence on social media and how this presence results in brands appearing trustworthy enough to do business with. This points to a direct correlation between CEOs engaging in social media activity and new areas of income for organisations.

4. Attract better employees and keep the ones you’ve got 

In the same survey 78 per cent of respondents stated that they would prefer to work for a company whose leadership is active on social media. Employing and keeping the very best talent is always a challenge in a competitive market. However, clearly and regularly updating and stating opinion via social media allows CEOs to plainly put the case for coming to or remaining at their company.

Thomas Vollrath is CEO of 123-reg’s parent company Host Europe Group.

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