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A picture of a facebook home page.by: Sarah Tourville, Founder and CEO

I am frequently asked by CEOs why they should bother with social media. It’s a great question and one I like to take time to answer, as I want our CEO clients to recognize how their social involvement will help them to develop a more successful company. However, according to a study conducted by CEO.com and DOMO in June 2013, a whopping 68% of Fortune 500 CEOs did not have any social presence whatsoever — even on LinkedIn, the CEO social platform of choice. Why is this? Well I get it. Being a CEO myself, I spend all my time running the company, creating the media frenzy™, making money, negotiating with customers, that I can easily say that I don’t have much time for social media. But as a marketer/CEO, I know that in this digital age, a voice on social media is a game changer, its the piece that will set you apart from the competition and help build that important sales pipe.

So why should CEOs carve out several hours a week to have a voice on social media?

Transparency. I always start with this point because it’s a situation we can all relate to. People buy from people, not from companies. Think about it. How many times do you choose to do business with people that you like even if their service or product is not superior? The answer is often. This theory applies in the online world as it does in the physical world. The more you know about a company, its leadership, their core values, the more you trust and like them, the more likely you are to do business with them. A CEO who has a voice online is being transparent to its stakeholders, and this value alone sets them apart.

Encourage company culture and employee engagement. Prior to social media, CEOs had to orchestrate town hall meetings with their staff to share their ideas and vision and encourage employee engagement. This might have happened once a quarter but most probably twice a year, meaning there were numerous days in the year when an employee might have lost that sense of purpose. Social media has changed all this. A CEO who is active on social media can reinforce the company culture and set priorities daily with its employees, while also providing a platform for feedback.

Attract good talent. If you’re vying with your competitors to attract the top talent to work for you, how do you win them over? With your company culture, of course. Skilled workers will chose somewhere they enjoy working over somewhere they don’t. By participating in social media, you can foster the culture of your brand to attract the top talent in your field. They will want to work somewhere with a humanized CEO, as opposed to a CEO who keeps himself invisible from employees.

Lead by example. What makes a great leader? It depends on who you ask. But, we all can agree that leading by example is a must. It builds respect and trust within your company, which in turn makes happy and loyal employees. Whatever it is that makes you that great leader within your company, take it to social media. Show your employees how you want them to represent your brand by the way you represent your brand. Use the variety of platforms to exercise those characteristics that make you the best person to lead your organization.

Establish relationships with the media and analyst community. What’s the one thing many analyst and journalists struggle with when writing a story about a company? Getting access to the CEO. After all, they usually have to go through a gatekeeper. But when a CEO is on social media, that door is much more open. Sure, the CEO probably won’t respond to every media or analyst question, but it makes them much more accessible and the journalist and analysts are more likely to get richer media coverage and clearer analyst coverage.

A great example of a CEO using social media to engage with media and analyst is client Tim Perfitt, CEO of Twocanoes Software.  Tim shares his thoughts and opinions with the media and analyst community on industry related topics and trends establishing himself as a thought-leader.  His latest interaction with Retail Touch Points publisher Ed Cleary via LinkedIn resulted in a face-to-face interview for an upcoming feature.