At 6:35 p.m. Pacific on Oct. 22, the CEO of ING Direct Canada joins the #SocialID chat on Twitter to discuss "Should Your CEO Be Participating in the Social Net?"
At 6:36, Peter Aceto takes a break from the community event he's attending in Toronto so the banker can start explaining his tweeting philosophy: "Twitter/SM is nothing new. It is, in its simplest form, a dialogue, a form of engagement."
While Aceto, or @CEO_INGDIRECT, tweets that he likes to hear from his customers and provide them with tweeted help, the chat he's just joined is meant to highlight that he is among the minority of CEOs.
The Oct. 22 chat hosted by New York-based public relations firm Weber Shandwick augmented research conducted at the beginning of 2010 and realeased on Oct. 12, showing that 64 percent of CEOs from Fortune 50 companies are not social.
"Socializing Your CEO: From (Un)Social to Social" further finds that among those who do have a public presence online, 64 percent have a Wikipedia page (not necessarily written by them); 28 percent post a letter or message on the company site; 18 percent tack a video or podcast onto the company site or a YouTube channel; and none have a company-affiliated blog. (According to the study, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda's blog doesn't count, because he goes by an alias—"Morizo.")
As for what most social geeks consider social networking sites, CEOs of these heavyweight companies seem to be doing the boxer's dance to avoid getting in the ring: Eight percent have a Twitter presence; and as for Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, the sites each see only a 4 percent participation rate.
"Companies need a human face, and social media helps," tweets one chat host, @ReputationRX—also known as Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick's chief reputation strategist. Most chatting during #SocialID agree that transparency and authenticity are at the top of the list, with Gaines-Ross underlining that ghost writers for CEOs are a "danger zone."