As the prominence of social media continues to grow, new statistics show that Americans expect their businesses to have a presence on these networks. More specifically, they want to see CEOs use social media to connect with their customers. The Global Street Fight Study from Harris Poll and G&S Business Communications has found that 64 percent of Americans think it's important for senior business leaders to have an active social media account.
"There's been a lot of industry buzz encouraging CEOs and other senior business leaders to engage on social media, but not much has been said about what the general public expects from senior leaders once they start posting, tweeting and sharing," said Steve Halsey, G&S principal and managing director of business consulting.
Americans see CEOs' presence on social media as their effort to keep customers up-to-date on the latest happenings with their companies, whether it pertains to new products or investments. Only 16 percent view CEOs' social media usage as story-telling - Americans expect to receive factual information from them on networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.
"On social media, the voice of senior leadership and the company appear to be one and the same in the minds of most Americans," said Carol Gstalder, Nielsen senior vice president of consumer insights and co-author of the annual Global Street Fight survey. "Four in 10 Americans follow senior leaders on social media and what senior leaders communicate shapes how the public perceives the reputation of the company. This is incredibly significant from a corporate communications stand point in terms of building reputational equity, influencing stakeholder behavior, and drawing on that equity in times of crisis."
As one might expect, younger generations are more likely to keep up with senior business leaders and brands via social media. About 63 percent of Millennials and 58 percent of Gen Xers hear about what's going on with companies on social media, as opposed to other channels. Furthermore, 53 percent of Millennials and 47 percent of young Gen Xers place more trust in company information they read on social media.
"Social media gives the public a unique opportunity to see a company through the lens of its leader and for senior leaders to listen through the lens of their stakeholders," Hasley continued.
A total of 2,018 American adults were surveyed for the study in March 2016.