In an age when social media has become a must-have for every business, many CEOs are hesitant to keep up. Only 47.4 percent of Inc 500 and Fortune 500 CEOs use social media.
Perhaps the reticence comes from a fear of making a mistake in a place where a gaffe can turn into a crisis. Maybe it’s something else.
Whatever the reasons not to, here are eight reasons why every business should have a social CEO:
1. You can give customers more insight into your brand.
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, started using social media in 2008 because that’s where his target audience chatted. Having direct access to the audience enabled him to provide insight into Virgin as a company. For example, Branson often highlights his philanthropic causes.
2. You can drive more of the conversation.
Social CEOs shift some of the control of the company’s image out of the hands of the customers and back to the business. Social CEOs often share the company’s story and industry news. They can even combat negative public opinion.
3. You can develop new media contacts.
Because of an active Twitter and Facebook presence, the CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories developed new contacts with the media. Beyond that, his social media activity earned notice from the CDC, politicians and even a celebrity. These contacts help build influence, visibility and publicity.
4. You can build trust with customers.
When CEOs use social media, it makes a company more trustworthy. A recent study showed 82 percent of customers are more likely to trust a company who has a CEO—or other leadership members—on social media.
With greater trust comes greater sales: Seventy-eight percent of customers are more likely to buy from a company with a CEO who is active on social media.
Katie O’Malley, owner of Katie O’Weddings and Events in New York, said the trust comes from people getting to connect with her on a personal level. She has gotten clients through her personal Facebook page and doesn’t expect that trend to stop because of the high social media adoption rate among the younger generation.
5. You can get media coverage in new areas.
In addition to earning new contacts with the media, companies with social CEOs see more range in the coverage they receive. They are five times more likely to receive coverage about their creative approach and four times more likely to get press about strategy and innovation.
6. You can attract the best employees.
Not only are social CEOs attractive to customers, but employees, too. Nearly four in five professionals would prefer to work for a company with a social CEO. Retain your best employees and attract new ones with a CEO on social media.
7. Your customers will want to engage with you.
Marketing Profs COO Ann Handley tells a story about how her hunt for a new digital camera led her to query her friends on Twitter. Among the people who responded was Kodak’s CMO. The interaction turned Handley into a Kodak customer.
Interactions on social media are a good way to educate prospects about your business, products or services. The information carries more weight when it comes from the person leading the company.
8. You can set a positive example for employees.
A CEO who uses social media well encourages good social media habits from the rest of the company. A larger part of the staff will use social media as a tool to learn, connect with others and share important news.
Finally, consider this: Two thirds of consumers say their perception of a CEO affects their perception of the whole company.
Why aren’t more CEOs on social media?
A version of this article originally appeared on the Vocus blog.