Posted by: Nanette Byrnes on November 14, 2008
Many CEOs use social media sites like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter personally, but few use them to communicate with stakeholders. And while 29% say social media can be a very or extremely effective way for companies to communicate, just as many find it ineffective. These are some of the findings of a September survey of 200 chief executives by public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and PRWeek.
So while CEOs are on these sites a lot (43% of the CEOs said they are on them often, including 19% who visit daily) it’s not for business. Only 18% say they use them to communicate with customers and other stakeholders.
48% say they lack relevance to the target stakeholder groups
37% voice concern about losing control of their message
28% worry about return on the investment
23% blame a lack of knowledge and capability within the company
Another reason may be that they’re not convinced of the payoff. While 62% see social media as having an impact on a company’s reputation, only 48% say it can change sales.
They seem much more convinced of the power of Word of Mouth and viral campaigns. 60% say those have more influence today than they did three years ago. Also rising in influence: trade media, blogs covering their industry, and traditional media including the Wall Street Journal (44% say its sway has grown) and BusinessWeek (24%). 67% of those surveyed will increase their spending on digital marketing in 2009.
Facebook’s the site most often used for public relations, but 71% of CEOs said their company web site is the best way to communicate with consumers during a crisis.
Burson-Marsteller thinks CEOs should be more social. In the press release on the findings, Mark J. Penn President & CEO says “CEOs should understand that many of their stakeholders are active users of social media and that it can be an extremely effective means for communicating a message. I would argue that companies that are not engaging in social media are taking a bigger risk than the companies that are.”
He’s on Facebook.
How can you manage smarter? BusinessWeek writers Nanette Byrnes, Patricia O’Connell, Emily Thornton, Matthew Boyle, Michelle Conlin and Diane Brady synthesize insights from the brightest business thinkers, critique the latest management trends, and comment on leaders in the news.