Communicating the Storyline Online

June 19, 2010

Communicating the Storyline Online

As I mentioned in my last post, our new research on executive placement at the right conferences covered some interesting information on social media. It would be difficult not to explore how executives were using or not using social media to tell their company story in addition to taking the podium.  Not surprisingly, the results show that online channels are not being used as effectively as they could.

  • The tool most widely used to communicate externally by the C-suite is posting written messages on the company web site (66%). And that is a big step from a few years ago, so this is good news. Despite its widespread usage, executive communications professionals surveyed do not regard C-level web statements to be among the three most effective ways to communicate externally. Instead, the #1 most effective channel, according to respondents, is recorded video on the Web site, followed by live webcasts and blogs.
  • Among the social networking tools, Twitter is considered more effective (25%) than Facebook (19%) and LinkedIn (16%) for external C-suite communications. Yet Twitter is woefully under-utilized by executives as a way to connect or communicate. It is reported by only 6% as a means that the C-suite uses to communicate now with external audiences. There is alot of debate about whether execs and CEOs should spend time on Twitter and Facebook. The best answer to the question is “Depends.” It depends on the industry, the regulations governing the industry, whether the company is customer-facing or not, and whether the executive has the time. Few execs have the time to commit and after talking to CEOs, they do not usually have the time. I keep wondering if there is an in-between but have not found one.
Online channels…

Used by C-suite for  communicating externally

Rated as effective (rated 4 or 5 on 5-point scale)

Written message posted on your company’s web site


36% (#4)

Recorded video posted on your company’s web site


55% (#1)

Live webcast over your company’s web site


42% (#2)



42% (#2)



32% (#5)



19% (#7)



16% (#8)



25% (#6)

None/Don’t know


Video, on the other hand,  is a preferred communications channel today because of its ability to viscerally humanize executives. Right now, video of CEOs or other execs talking, interacting, and engaging can go a long way to attracting candidates, putting a human face on the company and just saying, “I’m showing up.”

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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