Since the early days of social media (think Friendster, MySpace), the stereotype of an avid user has always been someone young and someone who should be — but often isn’t — more concerned about the consequences of late-night oversharing. As Facebook made the practice more mainstream in the mid-2000s, then Twitter a few years later, and now Pinterest, among others, those generalizations have softened somewhat. After all, Facebook alone now has almost 850 million users, spanning every age group, socioeconomic demographic and, for the most part, geographic region. But where relatively private Facebook is one thing, Twitter and Pinterest — where the vast majority of feeds and pinboards are open to the public — is quite another. More and more, employers, college admissions officers, potential future spouses, and anyone and everyone with access to Google can locate anyone’s musings in real-time. High-profile people with much to gain from such exposure (e.g., celebrities) have no problem signing up to be permanently searchable; high-profile people with much to lose from even one errant social media step (e.g., CEOs, world leaders, etc.), however, have typically shied away from these platforms.
But should they shy away? New data released today by social media branding firm BRANDfog suggests no. According to their research, an overwhelming majority of consumers view C-suite Twitter participation as a positive: 71% believe that CEO feeds lead to “improved brand image,” while another 78% said they provided “better communication” between brand and consumer. Even more telling, 82% say they trust a company more when a brand’s executive team is actively engaged in social media.
A sign of these changing times is President Obama’s new Pinterest page, launched today. By far his most personal social media effort to-date, the page familiarizes us with the President in a way we love but almost never see–which is precisely the point. Because if there’s any boss who needs to communicate a message and build trust right now, it’s definitely our Commander in Chief.