social CEOIn recent weeks you’ve likely noticed the amassing opinions on the latest buzz term “social CEO.” Opinions ranging from ‘CEOs absolutely need to become social’ to ‘CEOs should completely avoid social media,’ most of them, like with many debates, attempt to make the issue formulaic by taking a one-size-fits-all approach for every CEO in every company across every industry in the market.

This simplistic approach ignores the fundamental concept that CEOs, just like the general human population they're derived from, have very different, contrasting personality types; those who are technical and those who are not. Those who are extraverts and those who are not. Those who feel comfortable broadcasting their thoughts and opinions to the masses and those who do not. In other words, getting “social” is not for everyone and particularly not for every chief executive.

While, according to, 68% of Fortune 500 CEOs reportedly have no social media presence, most corporate captains are also not the public face or spokesperson of their company in the mold of Walt Disney, Steve Jobs or Frank Perdue, and for good reason in most cases. Placing these executives outside their comfort zone, particularly with limited social understanding, can become a massive threat to the organization’s reputation, financial state and shareholder value. One mis-tweet can blowup into an all-out crisis for the enterprise. Conversely, those chief executives who do have a genuine social savvy and a personality driven by engagement can create great value and opportunity for their organizations.

Social’s Executive Value

Debating whether CEOs should be tweeting is an interesting topic, but misses the mark on how social media can actually deliver significant, multidimensional value to chief executives devoid of massive pitfalls and risks. Every CEO, regardless of their “social state,” can become engaged in the deep, ongoing, real-time social conversation around their business simply by becoming an active listener to open social universe. Doing so can provide unprecedented understanding on variety of levels to grow and protect their business.

The value of advanced social intelligence through active listening is tremendous, particularly to C-level executives. This delivers advanced insight from across the open social universe (well beyond the limits of Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest), providing intelligence on a wide array of strategic fronts, including:

Opportunity Identification: Unveiling strategic market insights, trends and tipping points on brands, products, shoppers, customers and influencers provides incredible visibility to drive growth, innovation and identify market opportunities.

Competitive Tacking: The ability to keep close tabs on the decisions, actions, reputation and attitudes surrounding traditional and emerging competitors, helps set strategy and guide major corporate decisions.

Risk Mitigation: From industry issues to regulatory pressures, framing and mapping the shifts in the growing number of risks facing the enterprise allows for effective strategic response to minimize impact to protect the organization.

Threat Detection: From protests and lawsuits to extortion and sabotage, corporations are facing multi-front social wars. Gaining an edge on identifying these threats in real-time helps facilitate effective executive response.

The Bottom Line

So while it interesting to debate the impact of an executive “getting social,” the case for which and the related impact to the enterprise will differ dramatically from industry to industry, corporation to corporation and executive to executive. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ in this situation. However, on a universal basis, corporate officers across the C-suite can gain tremendous insight, understanding and perspective to set strategy, guide decisions and drive innovation with social intelligence.

The key to unlocking this value is to first getting a holistic view of the entire open social universe to uncover relevant, actionable insights, opportunities, risks and threats facing the enterprise. This is accomplished through advanced big data processing and complex modeling to discover veiled intelligence from the far-reaching corners of the open social universe, well beyond the mainstream social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Achieving this also requires an executive commitment to adopt this social intelligence to listen and understand what the market is saying on an on-going basis. Doing so delivers unprecedented value to CEOs, their boards, shareholders and management teams to grow and protect the enterprise like never before.

(Social CEO / shutterstock)