CEO’s Aren’t Reading Newspapers. What About Social Media?

Here’s a dichotomy; A Forbes and Gartner report shows, surprisingly, that the majority of CEO’s get their news from the Web, not newspapers. In fact, the study shows 70% of CEO’s view the Web as the single most important source for news. Yet Social Media struggles for integration with communications budgets and PR firms are still wrapping their heads around Social Media and it’s linkages to Traditional Media.

The study covered 639 C-Level executives (including CEO’s, CFO, COO, CMO) and over 50% were from companies with 1,000+ employees. Over 20% of the CEO’s lead companies with revenues in excess of $1 Billion in annual revenues. The survey was the U.S. only. 67% viewed the Web as their primary news source with newspapers coming in second at 17% and TV only at 3%. In looking at their share of time spent with media, a whopping 41% of that time was on the Web followed by TV at 21%.

In terms of Social Media interaction 30% said they read blogs, while 19% participate in online chats and 14% maintain a blog or post regularly to blogs. Microblogging an IM was not covered. These are, we think, surprisingly high numbers for Social Media usage.

So why is it still a struggle to get budget approvals for Social Media campaigns and leveraging the Web beyond classic marketing efforts? In part we think, because Social Media is still struggling to show value in a measurable and definable way. Marketing campaigns can be measured with all kinds of analytics programs. Yet Social Media is more about “conversations” with various key stakeholder audiences. Insightful Social Media expert Chris Brogan provides key views on measurement as does Jeremiah Owyang in terms of Social Networks measurement. These are excellent starting points, but like Web analytics a few years ago, measuring Social Media is still in it’s infancy. PR agencies are moving aggressively to understand and engage Social Media, but still have some hesitancy. We think this is for two reasons 1) measurement and 2) loss of direct control of the message/story. The loss of message/story control may be another factor for C-Level buy-in on Social Media as well.

What is encouraging however, is that there is increasing use and acceptance of the Web in the C-Level suite. CEO’s are beginning to view the Web as more than just a marketing channel, proving value to leverage Social Media however, is still for the early adopters stage we think.