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15 Reasons Why More Aerospace & Defense CEOs are "Liking" Social Media

A growing number of aerospace and defense CEOs are embracing social media because it makes business sense. They are not alone in their thinking.

Raytheon's Bill Swanson Twitter Cufflinks

Shown here is a Twitter logo on the cufflink of Bill Swanson, Chairman and CEO of Raytheon.

According to Wikipedia, "Raytheon Company is a major American defense contractor and industrial corporation with core manufacturing concentrations in weapons and military and commercial electronics." The company has 68,000 employees and revenues of $24.857 billion.  It is #5 on the Defense News Top 100.

Why do you suppose the CEO of an enormous defense contractor is so fond of social media that he has Twitter logos on his cufflinks? Perhaps because social media, when used properly, is good for business. And because Bill Swanson is one of a growing number of defense industry CEOs who "get" social media because of the business benefits it provides.

According to research by Weber Shandwick, CEO social media engagement has doubled in one year. Conducted in partnership with KRC Research, over 600 senior executives from 10 markets worldwide were surveyed. The research found that 76% of global executives say they want their CEO to engage in social media.

The study, “The Social CEO: Executives Tell All,” surveyed 630 professionals — managers on up to the C-suite, excluding CEOs — about the social participation of CEOs.

Benefits of Social CEOs Click to Enlarge


According to the study, the benefits of CEO engagement with social media include:

  1. Good way to share company news and information (80%)
  2. Positively impacts the company's reputation (78%)
  3. Demonstrates company innovation (76%)
  4.  Puts a human face on the company (75%)
  5. Employee communication (75%)
  6. Helps with media relations (75%)
  7. Enables employees to communicate with the CEO (73%)
  8. Helps CEO understand what's happening in the company (72%)
  9. Positively impacts business results (70%)
  10. Makes for a better place to work (69%)
  11. Builds market credibility (69%)
  12. Is a good use of the CEOs time (67%)
  13. Helps find/attract new customers (64%)
  14. Gives the company a competitive edge (64%)
  15. Helps with crisis communications (61%)

Here are two short videos that highlight the findings of the study (the second video automatically starts after the first):

The study also explores the barriers to social media use by CEOs. About half the reasons for not participating are directly related to the CEOs themselves. In the graphic below, the blue bars represent CEO-related reasons for non participation (e.g. CEO sees no measurable return on investment, CEO thinks social media is for young people, etc.)

CEO Barriers to Social Media

 The top reason given for CEOs not participating in social media is one I'm familiar with in the defense industry (i.e. "Not typical for our industry"). This is not surprising, given the herd mentality of many defense contractors.

But therein lies the opportunity for any aerospace and defense contractor that wants to take advantage of all the new opportunities afforded by social media to break out from the pack and increase awareness, preference and business opportunities. But they need to hurry before the herd turns in that direction.

One Fortune 500 company CEO believes that the real risk is in not using social media. By not being a social CEO, he argues, a CEO runs the risk of not getting his or her message out.

Your message is getting lost or not heard if you aren’t doing it. So the null set would be… what happens if you don’t?” Besides, all change begets risks.

Another Fortune 500 CEO points out that a similar concern was undoubtedly raised when the telephone replaced the telegraph. If social networking is here to stay, the CEO’s job is to figure out how to use it in a way that minimizes its downside and maximizes its upside.

There are risks and concerns with all kinds of things that you do as CEO. You just focus on the positives and you manage whatever the risks might be. After all, isn’t it the job of CEOs to manage risk?

What do you think? Please join the conversation below. And if you found this helpful, please share it with your network.

Check out the infographic:

Social_CEO-Infographic Click to Enlarge


Here is the entire 23-page report.

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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