March 30th, 2012 by Judith Aquino

What do Martha Stewart and Jeff Booth of BuildDirect.com have in common? Besides being CEOs, they both have Twitter accounts that are frequently updated. By having an active social media presence, their company brands are also more likely to be viewed positively by employees and consumers, according to recent research.

In a survey conducted by branding company BRANDfrog, several hundred employees of organizations ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies were asked to answer questions about their perception of executive leaders’ use of social media channels.

Approximately 80 percent of respondents reported they trust a company more when the senior leadership and CEO participate in social media channels. More than 70 percent said they were more likely or much more likely to buy from a company whose values and mission are defined through CEO and executive leadership participation on social media.

What makes an effective social media message? That depends. Using Twitter as an example, Martha Stewart’s twitter feed contains a mix of links to recipes and her upcoming media appearances, as well as close-up photos of a dentist repairing her broken tooth (yikes). She has about 2.4 million followers on Twitter alone. She also represents a huge consumer lifestyle brand.

In comparison, the Twitter feed of Jeff Booth, CEO of BuildDirect.com, a company that sells construction materials, contains fewer revealing tweets and so far no photos of his dental work. Most of his tweets are responses to followers, information about his whereabouts and news about BuildDirect.com. He has about 100,000 followers but is in an industry with a narrower focus than Martha’s so the number of followers isn’t a perfect measurement.

Both CEOs have a social media account that “humanizes” them and their brand however. For CEOs who are holding off on jumping into social media, the disadvantages are only going to increase. As social media continues to mature and become a mainstream communications tool, more people will expect to hear from the leaders of their favorite brands. Hopefully, they’ll have something relevant to share.

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