Mike Isaac

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Top CEOs Aren’t Using Social Media, Study Says — Should They Be?

It’s a quandary that many companies are struggling to figure out: With the rise of Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms, what stance do you take on corporate social media policies? Do you adopt these relatively new platforms wholeheartedly, or shy away?

The top brass at most Fortune 500 companies are opting for the latter. At least, that’s what a new study to be released on Thursday from data analytics company Domo claims.

Some 70 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are nowhere to be found across the top social networks — like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ — according to the study.

Why? The report, unfortunately, doesn’t go there, so your guess is as good as ours. Perhaps they’re not convinced that they need a social presence themselves, or perhaps they just don’t have the time to put into it. Or maybe they don’t want to go through the embarrassment and potential fallout caused by a social media faux pas (lord knows Anthony Weiner learned this the hard way).

Domo founder Josh James, however, thinks that opting out entirely is a bad idea.

“The primary reason you have to be social is because that is where your customer lives,” James wrote in a blog post published Wednesday evening. “Even if you are not leveraging it to close business and interact with your customers, you have to spend enough time online to at least understand the shift in the world.”

James’s company does have some skin in the game. Backed by $63 million in venture funding from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz and Benchmark Capital, Domo offers executive-level customers a dashboard-like set of social analytics and management tools to keep an eye on their company. James is so gung ho on the social concept inside the workplace, he recently launched a companywide experiment, dubbed #Domosocial, where every Domo employee will be required to use outside social platforms for two months, essentially practicing what his company preaches.

To be sure, the CEOs in the study have some presence online currently. That’s mostly on static, less engagement-heavy platforms like LinkedIn — where more than 25 percent have profiles — or even Wikipedia, where upward of 36 percent of CEOs have their own Wikipedia pages.

The other platforms that thrive on higher engagement aren’t so populated. Around 4 percent of the CEOs surveyed have Twitter accounts, while nearly 7 percent have Facebook accounts. And forget about Google+ and Pinterest — fewer than 1 percent of CEOs are on Google’s social network, and absolutely none of them are pinning LOLcat pics to their own Pinterest boards.

Is this going to change in the coming years? Perhaps, given the recent Twitter account adoptions from high-profile CEOs like Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp. (and my boss, by proxy of News Corp’s ownership of Dow Jones, AllThingsD’s parent company), and Larry Ellison, the famously mouthy CEO of Oracle. If enough CEOs see the ripples caused by these magnates, and the conversation it generates, it could coax a few new inductees to go social.

That is, unless we end up with another Weiner moment on our hands.


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