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Why Defense Industry Comers Are Mastering Social Media

Suddenly, high on the list of factors that boards now consider when vetting CEO candidates is their mastery of social media. Are you ready? 

Defense Industry Social Media

In the first-ever analysis of the defense industry’s use of social media by UK-based DefenceIQ, 62% of respondents "believe that it is very important, if not critical, that defence contractors improve their online and social media presence..."

DefenceIQ Social Media Study Figure 3

In the study’s exploration of the benefits of defense contractors using social media, the list included brand awareness, recruiting, establishing expertise and building relationships with journalists and the media.

benefits of social media for defense contractors

Perhaps not surprising, companies  leveraging the benefits of social media have a CEO who sees the business value in it. And the number of "social" CEOs, even in the defense industry, is increasing.

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%)

A World Gone SocialIn a recent Harvard Business Review article "The 7 Attributes of CEOs Who Get Social Media," Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt, authors of the new book "A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive" reveal that social media mastery is now quite high on the list of factors when a board selects a CEO.

This is relatively new:

Five years ago, when boards were searching for a leader, social media competency wasn’t even on the radar. Now, according to the board members and CEOs we interviewed for our book, a strong social presence is often high on the list of factors they consider when vetting CEO candidates.

A CEO's mastery of social media will remain an important factor:

And five years from now? With the positive aspects of being a social CEO routinely splashed across the business pages, social fluency will likely be on almost every board’s list of must-have leadership skills. Already, given a choice between similarly strong candidates — one with an impressive social presence, the other without – the choice is easy: boards increasingly prefer the modern leader.

Beware the posers:

Want to spot an antisocial CEO? Read what they’re sharing on social media. Are they spreading the good word about their company while also interacting with others, from famous influencers to humble social newcomers? Or is their feed clearly a spigot of self-promotion? Are they answering questions from concerned stakeholders? Or are they only saying what investors want to hear? Social CEOs put down the digital megaphone and they build relationships.

Two types of CEOs in the future: social... and retired.

No leader can afford to lead as they did in the Industrial Age. This is a new era with new rules. All around us, the entire world is flattening, democratizing, and socializing. It’s quite possible that as the social age matures, there will be only two types of business leaders: social … and retired.

To download the first chapter of "A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive" click here.


photo credit: Jason A. Howie via photopin cc

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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