Study: Social Media Use Helps CEOs Build Trust

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We already know that Social Media use confers a wide variety of benefits for the average company. It can work as an effective platform for marketing a new product. It can act as a focus group to gauge consumer opinions. It can be used to reinforce brand image and community engagement on a day-to-day basis. And, for most basic uses, social media is free, easy, accessible, and convenient. From a business perspective, there’s really not much to dislike.

Now research has revealed another reason for businesses to use social media: credibility.
According to a study released recently by BRANDfog, a social media consulting firm, CEOs that use social media are perceived by consumers as more credible.

A full 82% of the respondents in the survey said that they trust a company more when its top executive actively uses and communicates via social media. Furthermore, 77% said that they were more likely to purchase a product from a business that has a socially-engaged CEO. These findings fall in line with earlier credibility studies, although they are the first to consider the CEO’s role in particular.

The strong preference given to CEO engagement is likely a testament to the power of informal, personalized communication in the digital age. In the past, an executive might have given a human face to his or her business by writing individualized letters with custom pens or by making a point to speak with small shareholders at the annual meeting. These days this appeal to personalized informality is best found on Facebook and Twitter, where the CEOs communicate just as we do and may actually respond to our individual comments or complaints.

At the same time, social media is perceived as an „honest forum“ where people can speak candidly and where companies cannot stand behind layers of advertisers, consultants, and brand managers. By putting its brand message on Facebook and Twitter – and by keeping that message the same across traditional and non-traditional platforms – companies can appear more transparent and dependable. A brand message coming from the CEO only boosts that perceived transparency.

A minority of top CEOs currently use Facebook and/or Twitter to connect with consumers. Is this about to change? If companies are paying attention to this study, the answer very well may be yes.

This post is a guest post from Inkhead.

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