Let’s say you run PR or IR for a large company. 

You struggle every day to communicate with stakeholders. If your CEO is typical, they are irritated by press coverage and frustrated at their inability to “get out their story.” 

Imagine if you told the CEO there was a new technology that would let them communicate directly in real time to every employee, investor and regulator. Moreover, it doesn’t cost anything.

You would think they would be interested, right? 

That service has existed for years, of course. It’s social media. Currently, that means Twitter, LinkedIn and Instragram, though it could evolve to Discord, Telegram or some other service.

In one of the more abiding mysteries of corporate life, CEOs who would never post on social media spend oodles of time and money on PR and marketing and town halls and interviews with individual reporters. 

They have the opportunity to address the entire world directly and they don’t take it. 

It’s strange. 

Only 20% of CEOs in the S&P 500 even have Twitter accounts. And it’s clear from reading them that most are run by PR teams. 

In 2022, you don’t have to write it yourself, but it has to sound like you did. 

Whatever you think of Elon Musk, he clearly writes his own material.

Musk has used that authenticity and his audience of 110 million followers to promote everything from his businesses, Tesla and SpaceX, to his views on the war in Ukraine. He has huge mindshare and it’s reflected to some degree in his P/E ratio.

Obviously, there are good reasons to be wary of posting on social media. Plenty of things can go wrong. But increasingly, whatever is said in a town hall or on a hot mic or in a private text to Elon Musk could end up online as well.  

Also, you don’t have to be controversial like Musk, just authentic. Write about who you are and what you’ve done.

The best explanation I can come up with for the lack of CEOs on social media is that they are risk averse and think it is not something CEOs should do. 

They don’t see other CEOs doing it and they fear that investors will perceive it as a waste of time i.e. they should be “running the company.”

Meanwhile, running the company involves spending a large amount of time and money on PR and town halls and marketing and interviews all in an effort to promote the company’s message.

Twitter has done research that shows younger executives and women are much more likely to post so change may be inevitable.

One issue may be that CEOs think social media is only Twitter.

If you want to see what the future might look like check out the Instagram account of Thasunda Brown Duckett, a former JPMorgan executive who is now the CEO of TIAA.

It’s a steady drumbeat of who she is, what she does and what she believes. https://www.instagram.com/thasunda/

At some point we may see CEOs claim that there is no more effective and efficient way to reach large audiences.