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Businesses that have exhausted all of their marketing initiatives and are still looking for ways to find new customers may want to look at what other companies are doing to get a leg up on their competition. Increasing visibility into thecompany and making their CEO a public figurecould improve their reputation with customers and prospective clients.

CEOs are large corporations are learning that customers want to learn more about them before interacting with their business. This is why the online sociability of company CEOs increased 30 percent from 2010 to 2012, according to recent research conducted by global public relations firm Weber Shandwick. Sixty-six percent of CEOs from the world’s top 50 companies are now engaging online with their customer base. Businesses that are able to get their CEOs to communicate with customers online have a better opportunity to bring in new clients.

“Traditionally, CEOs have built reputations through means other than social media,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at Weber Shandwick. “However, this year’s CEO sociability audit provides evidence that chief executives are decidedly testing the social waters.”

CEOs show customers that they care
The number of online outletsthat customers can use to speak their minds about a company’s products, services, or personal experiences with a business demonstrates the need for CEOs to be active online. The research found that 18 percent of CEOs are now active on social media, and roughly half have increased their visibility on the company website. Anonline bio or quick video introducing the CEO are some ways he or she can become more social.

“By increasing their communications online, CEOs are showing they are listening to customers, are curious how their products are being received, care about attracting the best talent, understand the need to better humanize themselves and are more in-tune with where their stakeholders are,” said Gaines-Ross.

Social media could be worth the risk
Many CEOs are scared they could potentially hurt their firm’s business prospects or that they will be wasting time making social media a daily task. However, there have been several success stories of CEOs who are using social media their advantage.

“The slow growth in CEO usage of social networks demonstrates that either CEOs are worried about taking a risk or are unsure about the returnoninvestment by going online,” said Chris Perry, president of digital practice at Weber Shandwick.

An article for MediaPost Communications outlined how C-suite executives at some of the larger businesses in the U.S. are using social media for a number of advantages, including:

Social media use allows CEOs to properly communicate with staff, sales prospects and current customers, from one vehicle. It is especially useful during times of crisis when messages need to be short and concise, and provide information that people care about, said the news source.

“We should recognize, however, that they may be more comfortable now just being social listeners, social observers and big data gatherers rather than social engagers,” said Perry. “That said, our findings suggest an increasing percentage of CEOs now understand social media is also an essential avenue for corporate communications.”

CEOs must be wary of fake accounts
Some people may be out to ruin the reputation of a company as a result of a negative experience they had as a customer or former employee. Nonetheless, fake social media profiles are something all CEOs must look out for, as the Weber Shandwick research revealed that roughly one-third of top CEOs had their names attached to imposter accounts. Many of these accounts contain false information that could ruin the reputation of a firm. Even if a CEO is not active on social media, he or she must be aware of these accounts and make sure they are erased.

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