By: Sarah Tourville, CEO

With the growing presence of social media in our personal and professional lives, brand influencers and celebrities shouldn’t be the only ones using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

For many CEOs, though, social media is considered an unnecessary distraction. Amazingly, practically 61 percent of CEOs lack a social media presence. Yet 82 percent of employees say they trust a company more when the CEO and leadership team communicate on social media. If you believe a company’s culture comes from the top, this lack of CEO social presence must be a concern. The significance of social media to business cannot be ignored. No longer can the C-suite  afford to lead from the comfort of the office.

To ascertain the immense power of social in the business world, here are a few aspects to consider:

Build Brand Loyalty & Trust 

What’s most alluring about social is that by increasing a company’s online visibility, it can help establish trust and loyalty. For instance, 86 percent of Americans say transparency from a business is more important than ever.

When consumers or clients have to choose between Brand A (a company that consistently presents its brand position, mission, messaging and knowledge) and Brand B (a company and CEO that maintain a radio silence approach to topics, issues and trends), their top choice most likely will be the brand they believe to know the most about, Brand A.

A social presence can provide a behind-the-scenes view of the company and CEO. It also can humanize them. In addition, with trust such a vital element, 71 percent of consumers say they trust a company more when its leadership uses social to communicate its core mission, values and purpose.

Solidifying Brand Presence 

There are more than 3.5 billion active users on the internet utilizing social media platforms daily. YouTube is the most-visited site, with Facebook a close second. With users spending more time on social media, these platforms have become go-to sources for product and brand information. In short, if your brand is visible on your website only, you are doing yourself a massive disservice.

Use social media to showcase company news, awards, events and acquisitions. Further, social listening is one of the most useful ways to get candid customer feedback. Use feedback to shape product development and marketing campaigns. Promoting genuine engagement, offering valuable content and being transparent will set your company apart. Granted, easier said than done. Still, the importance of being socially savvy doesn’t stop with a simple best-practice approach.

Establishing Thought Leadership

Social media also is vital for thought leadership. When used correctly, social media encourages conversation and creates a public forum to engage with your company’s audiences and key influencers.

C-suite and senior executives can demonstrate their industry expertise and share insights on LinkedIn, Twitter and Quora. With 76 percent of executives saying CEOs who use social shows the company’s innovation and 69 percent saying it enhances the company’s credibility in the market, the value of a social presence is evident.

Leaders need not spend an extensive amount of time on social media to build their base and cultivate brand advocacy. Those who are best utilizing social media are creating traction within their communities and simultaneously connecting with their base.

Attracting Talent 

For some, whom you work with is even more important than where you work. Social media has changed talent acquisition, as it has become a potent tool to showcase company culture. Potential talent is watching; 79 percent of job applicants use social media in their job search.

Employees can be a company’s best advocates. Social media is an excellent way to display their enthusiasm. Their stamp of approval can influence whether your next best hire decides to join your company or the competition. Moreover, an active employee advocate further enhances the reach and credibility of your brand when they post about your company culture and awards.  In fact, 86 percent of advocates in a formal program said their involvement in social media had a positive impact on their career.

Whether you consider using social to create enhanced brand awareness, brand loyalty, establish thought leadership or increase sales, the impact of social media can be substantial.

Originally Featured in PR News.