Still on the fence about using social media to promote your small business? You may want to consider the findings of a new survey conducted by BRANDfog. Although much of its focus was on social media participation by C-suite executives, the 2012 CEO, Social Media and Leadership Survey’s findings are applicable to small businesses as well.
The consulting firm maintains that in today’s digital world, social media has become an increasingly important communications channel for building a connection between brands and their most vocal advocates. “While many companies understand the important role that social media plays in brand building, most have not yet realized its potential to raise the profile of corporate executives to establish industry thought leadership and strengthen the credibility of the brand,” says BRANDfog CEO Ann Charles.
The report notes that the ubiquity of social media has changed customer expectations about brand engagement, created expectations that they will have direct access to brands and brand leaders, and made a direct connection between social media participation, purchase intent and increased loyalty to a brand. It cites a recent report in which 50 percent of consumers stated they were more likely to purchase from a company and recommend a brand to others after following the company’s tweets.
The survey set out to better understand the connection between engagement at the highest levels of management on social media channels and attitudes of customer and employees toward that brand. Its aim was to determine the effect this has on brand image, customer loyalty, purchase intent and overall leadership.
Survey results demonstrate that executive engagement in social media raises the
brand profile and instills confidence in a company’s leadership team, builds greater trust, brand loyalty and purchase intent.
- 81 percent of respondents believe that CEOs who engage in social media are better equipped than their peers to lead companies in a web 2.0 world.
- A large majority of the respondents believe that CEOs can use social media channels to improve engagement with multiple stakeholders across their organizations. Building better connections with customers topped the list at 89 percent, but engagement with employees (85 percent) and investors (66 percent) also came in very strong.
- When asked what benefits C-Suite engagement in social media can lead to, 78 percent cited Better Communication and 71 percent stated Improved Brand Image as the biggest positive benefits.
- 86 percent of respondents rated CEO social media engagement as either somewhat important, very important or mission critical.
- 82 percent of respondents were more likely or much more likely to trust a company whose CEO and leadership team engage with social media.
- 77 percent of respondents were more likely or much more likely to buy from a company whose values and mission are defined through CEO and executive leadership participation on social media.
Several hundred employees participated in the survey. They represented all levels of diverse companies ranging in size from startups to Fortune 500 companies in a wide selection of industries, professions and regions.
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