Risk Versus Reward: Why CEOs Don’t Go Social

June 3, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Social Media

WeberShandwick-Reasons-CEOs-Don't-Participate-in-Social-June2013Senior executives whose CEOs use social media are extremely positive about the effects of their CEOs’ actions, per results from a study [pdf] by Weber Shandwick. However, many CEOs haven’t made the move to social media use yet, and the study results indicate that perceived risk is a key impediment. Senior executives with “unsocial” CEOs were asked the reasons why their CEO does not participate in social media, with almost one-third responding that it’s too risky. That was one of the top barriers, slightly behind social not being typical for the region or industry (35%), the CEO seeing no measurable return on investment (34%), and a lack of demand for the CEO to do so (34%).

In fact, two-thirds of respondents with “unsocial CEOs” believe that it is somewhat (50%) or very (16%) risk for CEOs to participate in social media. By comparison, a smaller (yet significant) 49% of senior executives with social CEOs find their leader’s participation to be somewhat (41%) or very (8%) risky.

A study released last year by the Altimeter Group found social media practitioners identifying significant reputational hazards with the use of social media. When asked to estimate the level of risk that social networks present for businesses, 35% of the respondents ”“ for whom social media risk management is their primary or a significant part of their responsibility ”“ identified reputation or damage to the brand as a critical risk.

Returning to the Weber Shandwick research, other key reasons cited for CEOs staying away from social included a lack of time (27%), the CEO thinking social media is for young people (25%), the company not being very transparent or open (23%), and legal counsel discouraging the use of social media (20%).

About the Data: With partner KRC Research, Weber Shandwick surveyed 630 professionals ”” managers on up to the C-suite, excluding CEOs ”” about the social participation of CEOs. Respondents worked in companies with revenues of $500 million or more and represented 10 countries across North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Respondents included those from developed and emerging markets and a variety of industries.

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