New Survey of CEOs Reveals How They’re Using Social Media

CEO Connection, for which I serve as Chief Relationship Officer, just released the results of its June Mid-Market Index (for companies with revenues of $100  million to $3 billion) focused on the use of Social Media. In this survey our member CEOs revealed:

Additionally, CEOs gave their perspective of current business conditions relative to last month:

My perspective on these results:

1. I was not surprised that 59% said they don’t use social media for any official communication given that the word “official” holds a higher level of responsibility for CEOs, in my experience. For example, the CEOs I work with who use Twitter to share links of interest to them, or who use internal Twitter-type micro-blogging and regular blogs to casually communicate their activities to employees would not likely categorize these activities as “official communication.” I suspect CEOs perceive “official communication” to represent something similar to Fed-Ex’s blog and video response to a computer being thrown over a fence at the height of holiday shopping last December, in which the Senior VP of US Operations used social media to communicate in an official manner on behalf of the company.

2. On the other hand, studies about the impact of CEOs who use social media show consumers are more likely or much more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media to clearly define company values and leadership principles – which could absolutely be classified as official communications. And in the study I’ve referenced, 94% said C-suite social media participation enhances a brand image. CEOs who are not using social media at all, or who are not using it in an external-facing manner, should be made aware of the significant benefits of a proactive social media communication strategy.

3. If the 50% who use social media but say it’s not a significant part of their marketing responded this way because they’re either struggling to build engagement around their social media marketing efforts or are unclear of how to take their “starter efforts” to the next level (as I suspect may be the case with a number of them), there are a plethora of resources they can look to for advice. For starters, the Content Marketing Institute can provide advice to companies like this on how to create tremendously valuable content to drive these efforts. Additionally, Mack Collier’s upcoming book “Think Like a Rockstar” will teach companies how to solve this common social media marketing problem.

4. I was shocked to see that at this point in time nearly 40% of CEOs are not using social media to listen to public thoughts and opinions about their brand and products. I believe this is a minimum requirement for CEOs of companies of this size ($100 million to $3 billion in revenues). Yet, I know when we tell CEO Connection members how easy it is to simply set up a Google Alert for their company and brand names, many are unaware of this. These communications are critical for companies of this size and may be designed to be unintrusive to CEOs.

How about you – were you surprised by any of this? Would you say your perspective is similar to these mid-market CEOs? Please share in the comments! 


The CEO Connection Mid-Market Index is the only monthly poll designed to determine and regularly represent the thoughts, issues, and levels of confidence of CEOs of mid-market companies. It provides valuable data from the perspective of the mid market C-Suite; a perspective that is important and deserving of attention but usually lost among small business surveys and Fortune 100 reviews. This survey is administered and analyzed by The NPD Group, experts in consumer market research, reports and analysis.

CEO Connection is the only membership organization in the world focused exclusively on mid market CEOs. The organization connects thousands of mid-market CEOs and rising CEOs with each other and to people, information and resources which will help them succeed. The average size of the companies they run is $1.8 billion in annual revenue and 7,600 employees. It is all about CEOs helping CEOs.


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  1. Great points here Lisa.
    I’m not surprised most CEOs don’t use social media to listen to what others think about their brand or products.
    The main issue I hear them repeat are:
    -Noise, there is way too much of it online and they don’t have time to filter the information from all the data that is being pumped online.
    – Face to face, old-school feedback matters more to them than some anonymous blogger or twitter handle.

    Listening is also a distraction to a CEO, since he/she should be focused on making sure the vision of the company is implemented and its values delivered.
    Instead of consuming media CEO’s job is mostly to set the path where he/she wants the firm to go and get the teams to buy into the vision.

    Perhaps someone in the marketing department should be responsible for the listening.
    John Falchetto´s last blog post ..How to successfully grow an online coaching business

    • Thank you so much for sharing these insights, John! I agree with you that filtering is important so the information does not become intrusive. For some of these Mid-Market companies (and most small companies) that’s not hard to do. I do think listening is critical however, as it may point out unseen roadblocks to be aware of as the CEO is implementing his/her vision. But I absolutely agree that marketing and communications will play a major role in this. My concern is this information sometimes does not find its way to the C-Suite – especially if it’s bad news. Open communication and trust are critical. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences and insight here – I sincerely appreciate it!

  2. Interesting findings, Lisa! I would be interested to learn more about the companies where their CEO used social media to communicate with his/her employees. For example, what impact has it made on employee turnover, if any? As always, great to see how CEOs are actually using or not using social media! And thanks for the book mention ;)
    Mack Collier´s last blog post ..Sunday’s #Blogchat Will Be Co-Hosted By C.C. Chapman!

  3. I tend to look at glasses that are half full. The most positively surprising number in the survey was that 31% said Social Media was a major part of the company’s marketing program. This is a BIG number. I would expect the data to show exponential improvement on CEO usage in next year’s study. CEOs not in tune with the social media movement have their heads in the sand. Wake up and smell the opportunity.

  4. Hi Lisa,
    Great read! My bosses at Jacobs Media and I discuss this frequently in regards to the CEO’s of radio – the industry we work in. Would you be able to assist me with some quotes if I wrote about this study? My email is [email protected]. Looking forward to hearing from you,
    Lori Lewis

  5. Sadly, this is further proof that the majority of CEOs are behind in getting on board with social media. What CEOs do not realize is that social media requires a minimal amount of time and that everyone is paying attention to it. CEOs need to realize that they can stand out in their industries and be the “first movers” in social media while also engaging with key customers and stakeholders in their businesses.
    Giuseppe Barone´s last blog post ..Socializing the C-Suite: Stop the Excuses, Start the Engagement

  6. Hi Lisa, Great insight. I was surprised that 40% of CEO’s don’t use it to at least listen to their customers let alone engage. I think they’re missing a great opportunity to connect with their customers. I’m curious about what percentage of CEO’s using social media are B2B versus B2C?
    Sandra Tedford´s last blog post ..Facebook Timeline Cover: 5 Ways to Make It Dynamic

  7. Truly insightful looking ahead to coming back again.
    Willie´s last blog post ..Willie


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