Wednesday, June 24, 2009

F100 CEOs don't Tweet (but do they Rock 'n Roll)

Who would you vote to lead the corporations of the present into the future: suits who network with their peers at a country club, nursing a glass of Scotch, or folks in jeans (or even or suit, maybe?) connecting across the globe through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, wikis, etc.)? Okay, my bias is showing here, but so what? And granted, it takes a whole lot more than being social media savvy to run a company -- today. Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, has had a blog for years, dang it, and yet couldn't do better than sell out to Oracle. Then again, maybe he was so savvy, he sold out, and that was the best thing anyone could have done in the prevailing circumstances.


But consider this: today's corporation needs to keep hiring, especially at the entry level; a level made up mostly of young people, who tend to be social media savvy. These are the people who will eventually end up at the uppermost rungs of the corporation and run it. And smart CEOs will in fact go out of the way to hire young people who get New Media. For it's increasingly clear that the future of business -- and society (and even nations: check out all the Tweets coming out of Iran) -- will rest increasingly on the ability to tap into and take advantage of social media. Anyway, that's what I believe, and I might try to justify this in another post, or just point the reader to people like Clay Shirky and Chris Anderson and Siva Vaidyanathan who've likely already done so (see Kevin Kelly).

So it's interesting to learn from UberCEO that the CEO's of Fortune 100 companies don't get social media. Or maybe the get it, but aren't social media savvy. Or perhaps they're savvy but are waiting for a strategic moment to make their entry. Or are so smart that they know that using it really doesn't serve much of a purpose in their businesses.

Hmm ... I doubt that they are that smart, or else one of the traditional guys -- Barnes and Noble or Borders -- would have started something like Amazon (which is now eating their lunch). From the report:
  • Only two CEOs have Twitter accounts.
  • 13 CEOs have LinkedIn profiles, and of those only three have more than 10 connections.
  • 81% of CEOs don't have a personal Facebook page.
  • Three quarters of the CEOs have some kind of Wikipedia entry, but nearly a third of those have limited or outdated information.
  • Not one Fortune 100 CEO has a blog.
I can understand them not having a Twitter account -- even I'm still flailing about doing my best to get it (ain't givin' up 'til I do). Not that I'm a barometer for this sort of thing, but still. But no blog? Dude, blogs are so 1999, and you still ain't there yet? I'd have expected them to have at least hired a 20-year old to do social media on their behalf. I guess they couldn't find one who got it and was okay with wearing a suit too.
Wikipedia had the highest level of engagement among the Fortune 100 CEOs, yet 28% of those entries had incorrect titles, missing information or lacked sources.
No excuses, babe. Even an old-time marketer will tell you that if you don't actively manage your public image, you'd better accept whatever comes up out there.

Given that F100 CEOs seem to be Old School Tie types, it's rather telling that there are more of them on Facebook (which is swarming with kids) than on LinkedIn, a professional networking service -- so are the CEOs stalking kids on Facebook? Man, that ain't even funny.

Now Facebook is about networking, but that doesn't necessarily mean a place where you post pictures of last night's drunken revelries. Stanford now is experimenting with holding office hours on Facebook, goshdarn it! First guy out was Prof. Phil Zimbardo, he of the infamous prison experiment. Not exactly a spring chicken, but certainly an out-of-the-box thinker. So it's not about one's age; it's an attitude thing. The New England Journal of Medicine has a presence on Facebook too. If these two very traditional institutions get it, there's no reason why F100 CEOs shouldn't be out there.

There are CXOs who Twitter, but they're pretty far removed from the F100 bubble. Here's a (pretty long) list. More than likely, they're relatively young, and are into tech, or are tech-savvy (e.g, @werner - Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon and @vivek -- Vivek Ranadive, Founder & CEO of TIBCO). And then there are the thought leaders of the new Techno-Business-Cultural Zeitgeist, people like: Clay Shirky, Chris Anderson, Tim O'Reilly, Dave Winer, Siva Vaidyanathan, Malcolm Gladwell, Al Gore, Lawrence Lessig -- people of considerable influence especially among those under 30. Or even 40. Despite most of them being over 50. They get it.

Here are more detailed data from the study:

Whaddaya think?

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