CHAPTER 4 The high cost of social executive absenteeism

Are executives laggards? Let’s restrict the discussion here to social media, where the data tells a conflicted tale. On the one hand, executives definitely seem behind the eight ball when it comes to using social media.

A 2012 US study of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies by software company Domo found that only 16 per cent were using social media. On the face of it, a doubling in their 2013 survey to 30 per cent seems significant, but this reflects the sign-up rate rather than active use. In other words, executives are signing up to platforms because they think they should but are not doing anything much once they get there — a bit like going to a business lunch and standing in the corner.

Domo founder Josh James believes these CEOs are hurting their business results and doing their shareholders a massive disservice. Although social media takes significant time and commitment, he argues, ‘If you’re not speaking for yourself, other people will speak for you. And you may not like what they have to say’.

A 2012 study by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business into the executive social media gap found a similar disconnect. The study ‘What Do Corporate Directors and Senior Managers Know about Social Media?’, which surveyed more than 180 senior executives, found no link between executive understanding of the importance of social media and action.

The study lead, Professor David F. Larcker, said the results showed that ...

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