Study: World’s Top CEOs Remain Silent in Social Media

Weber Shandwick released results from its survey “Socializing Your CEO: From (Un)Social to Social,” which found that 64 percent of CEOs at the top 50 companies in the world aren’t communicating with external audiences using social media. The firm used the Fortune Global 500 list to determine the top 50 companies. Included on that list are Wal-Mart (#1), BP (#4), Bank of America (#15), and General Motors (#38).

Which is not to say that these execs are totally silent. Ninety-three percent of executives are quoted in news and business publications, and 40 percent participated in speaking engagements to a non-investor audience, according to the research.

Also, 28 percent are using non-shareholder letters or the company website and 18 percent are featured in company videos or podcasts. Fewer than 10 percent of the CEOs analyzed were using Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or an external blog.

But should every CEO even be social?

“CEOs should know social channels are becoming more important to help convey the company’s agenda from the top,” Chris Perry, president of digital communications at Weber Shandwick said in an e-mail. “If executives and communications teams bypass digital channels, they’re missing opportunities to convey company perspectives, share financial information and interact with employees, just to name a few examples. CEOs must understand all media is now social media. ”

Perry went on to say that social media can be particularly useful in crisis situations.

“There is tremendous opportunity to use social channels to convey perspectives to a variety of stakeholders,” he wrote.

The firm offers five tips for socializing a CEO, such as “Identify best online practices of your peers and best-in-class social CEO communicators” and “Accept the fact that Getting Social needs to be part of your corporate reputation management program. Purposefully manage your social reputation as well as your corporate reputation.”