Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Updating the C Level View of Social Media Marketing

This study made me smile a little bit. I have found the content to be very true with many of the C level leadership of my client companies. There may always be a natural resistance to change or progress with some even with those that are considered visionary in their chosen field. Early vision understanding and adoption of emerging “message connection technology” is something I believe will set apart the true movers and shakers of the world in the short and long run. This article was published in the NYT and IHT:

Heads of Top U.S. Companies Snub Blogs, Facebook: Study

June 25, 2009 NEW YORK (Reuters) – The heads of the top U.S. companies might be engaged in the boardroom, but they’re switched off when it comes to social media, according to a new study that said CEOs should be more connected to their customers. Research conducted by the blog looked at Fortune’s 2009 list of the top 100 CEOs to determine how many were using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, or had a blog – and found they were mostly absent from the rapidly growing social media community. The study found only two CEOs had Twitter accounts and 81 percent of CEOs did not have a personal Facebook page. Only 13 CEOs had profiles on the professional networking site LinkedIn. Three CEOs stood out with more than 80 connections but they were all from technology companies – Michael Dell from computer maker Dell Inc., Gregory Spierkel from technology products distributor Ingram Micro Inc., and John Chambers from Cisco Systems Ltd.

Three quarter of the CEOs did have some kind of Wikipedia entry, but nearly a third of those had limited or outdated information such as incorrect titles, or lacked sources. Not one Fortune 100 CEO had a blog. “It’s shocking that the top CEOs can appear to be so disconnected from the way their own customers are communication. They’re giving the impression that they’re disconnected, disengaged and disinterested.” Said Sharon Barclay, editor at who runs executive PR firm Blue Trumpet Group. “No doubt regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and Reg-FD make CEOs cautious about communicating freely, but they’re missing a fabulous opportunity to connect with their target audience and raise their company’s visibility,” Barclay said, referring to financial reporting regulations aimed at protecting investors. Social networking sites are booming, with the latest figures by Nielsen Online showing the number of minutes spent on them in the United States doubling over the past year.

As I explain the need and value to be up on social networking, blogs, etc to my C level clients, I use the similarities to the beginning of major companies and products adding an Internet website directive to their TV, radio, and print advertising in the 90s. Many then did not see how having a website or even online ordering could equal what they already had.....believe it or not. In the 90s these same clients under the directive of C level management began hiring junior executives to keep them up with the times during this most important initial change in message to market avenues.

Now, what equally strikes me are those C level executives that look at social networks (Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc) simply as glorified chat rooms with no real business or marketing value. I can see how some might view (and some even use) social networking, blogs, Twitter, etc as this, yet I would have you ask yourself - How did a relatively unknown, fairly inexperienced politician raise millions and get elected to the highest office in the USA in such a short time? - How did Obama get elected? I think the web networks in general, and the understanding of the power and correct use of this new frontier that is online social & professional networking media, might have had something to do with that outcome.

Those who embrace new message connection technology, understanding a large section of their target market does, will adopt early and have the benefits of first to market message space and following. This can be a tremendous advantage that may take competitors a long marketing cycle to catch up in market message penetration. I believe this has already been proven out by Obama. I use this example with my C level clients who ask why they should spend their time on this or have a need to be proficient with the social media technology.

Brenda Huffman


  1. I don't think those CEO's understand how the source of the message can now be more important than the message itself. Recommendations from your friends and trusted connections through social networking sites have more impact to today's consumer than the hot ad they just saw on TV or saw in a magazine.

    If you want to be trusted by consumers, you must humanize yourself. Integrity and honesty trump a slick presentation.

  2. ROverman, very interesting point - I agree!

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