This shift in attitude, from skepticism and mistrust to a willingness to explore and even embrace social media, is bound to have enormous impact on how companies interact with both customers and employees in the not too distant future.
A recent study included face-to-face interviews with more than 1,700 corporate leaders from around the globe, and the results show that CEOs are starting to recognize that real-time connectivity now impacts how consumers engage with businesses and what their expectations are in terms of products and service.
What’s more, in our fast-paced, global economy where innovation, excellence and precise timing are critical to business success, more and more companies have begun to integrate elements such as openness, collaboration and transparency into their corporate culture vision statements.
Among the key findings of this new research :
- 75 percent of the CEOs listed collaboration as an essential business skill.
- 67 percent touted communication as fundamental to corporate success.
- 61 percent felt flexibility and creativity were invaluable employee traits.
Because excellence in these areas require high levels of interaction, immediacy and follow through, many CEOs now see that using social media platforms greatly outpaces e-mail when it comes to forging relationships, soliciting feedback, building trust and developing loyalty.
“One of the most compelling findings is how in tune CEOs are about the implications and impact of social media,” said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Business Service. “Rather than repeating the familiar lament about de-personalizing human relationships, this view leans heavily in favor of deepening them, and using dynamic social networks to harness collective intelligence to unlock new models of collaboration.”
Indeed. Although fewer than 20 percent of CEOs currently employ social media in their communications with employees and key stakeholders (even less in some sectors), those surveyed predicted that percentage will nearly triple over the next few years. These corporate leaders expect a similar increase in the use of one or more social media tools in the customer interaction arena, as well. Moreover, more than half of the survey respondents indicated they would incorporate technology into their plans to collaborate with outside partners, as well as with internal teams.
Relative to social media marketing, this growing receptivity by senior leaders towards existing and emerging platforms definitely paints a bright picture. As CEOs familiarize themselves with what they can accomplish with technology and how far-reaching their influence can be, the rest of their organizations won’t be far behind. In fact, my guess is that these CEOs will instantly gain the support and respect of their more social media-savvy employees and customers, resulting in the open, collaborative and responsive culture that is the foundation of business success.