This morning I published the fourth edition of the stamp #socialCEO report. Ten months or so after the first piece of analysis (little more than a blog post, if truth be told), it’s been enlightening to explore the ways in which our leading companies, and their Chief Executives, are engaging (or not) with the world of social networks.
Underlying the report are few things.
Firstly, that in the business world social networks have become social media and therefore primarily the preserve of marketers. Despite endless chat about conversations, the marketing world really struggles to think of anything other than traditional “broadcasting” mass media.
Secondly, as a result, many people in business have lost sight of social networks as being a two-way communication channel, and at a personal level therefore struggle to understand how they might add value.
Thirdly that “networking” still has negative connotations for many, and as a result many people don’t know how they do it, or understand what it might mean to improve. Therefore, they bimble through it all, never really feeling in control. Social network technologies just then exacerbate the problem (like the way that email for many has become an uncontrollable deluge).
Finally, leaders in organisations role model behaviours that get adopted elsewhere. If business do things, others with ape them. If they don’t, they won’t (“I didn’t get to where I am today…”)
Four quarters in, and the FTSE100 CEO community has become distinctly less socially-networked. Partially this is as a result of Burberry’s Angela Ahrendts’ departure last month to Apple. With her she takes 64% of all of the followers that the entire FTSE100 CEO community had between them. Ironically, her social communication has pretty much stopped since the announcement of her role in Cupertino back in the Autumn of last year. Apple is a very secretive place, it seems.
But every quarter some CEOs leave, some join, and overall the new boys (and girl – Moya Greene at the Post Office) are a pretty unconnected bunch online.
Is this typical of 50-something, mostly white, men? I don’t know. There are plenty of that demographic in my own social feeds (particularly on LinkedIn) – but that’s of course a crap sample. I have to say, on a day-to-day basis, it’s rare now to meet with someone who isn’t on LinkedIn. There again, the most senior person I’ve met in the past few weeks (a middle aged, white CIO with European-wide responsibilities) was absent.
Maybe they’re all just working too hard and just too busy to work with this social stuff? Well, maybe. But if they aren’t engaging, I do worry about how they can make decisions in the social networking space because I’m sure they don’t appreciate what it is without engaging. And for the CEOs of ITV, Vodafone, BT, Sky, the Post Office, all of the major high-street banks, that strikes me as bad news.
Anyway, where there’s inactivity there’s opportunity. You can draw your own conclusions – the report is now available for download without registration from here.