According to the Zeno Digital Readiness Survey many executives fail to consider social media reputation when making business decisions. In fact, more than one-third of the 300 US executives (36 percent) say that the CEO of their company does not care, or cares little, about the company’s reputation in social media. (I can only assume that they have not yet felt the effects of a social media crisis.)

And while most organizations say they would take some action to respond to an online crisis, at least 10 percent say their organizations would not take any action at all to engage with audiences online to address a damaging article or social media post. So we still have a bit of the “head in the sand” response going on.

The study found marked differences between B2C and B2B companies, as well as large and small firms, in both CEO attitudes toward social media and in the company’s ability to respond to an online challenge.

  • B2B companies lag their B2C counterparts – their CEOs are less likely to consider social media in decision-making, they are slower to engage in a crisis, and they are twice as likely to refuse to engage online audiences at all.
  • The bigger the company, the more likely that the CEO will consider social media in their decision-making. In fact, 43 percent of smaller firms said their executives rarely or never consider social media reputation.
  • Smaller does not necessarily mean more nimble in social media. A fast response to an online crisis is more likely in larger companies.

In conclusion the report suggests that mapping the online social graph of a brand and identifying and engaging with the influencers in each sector should be part of a brand’s research and decision making.

“We see too many organizations missing opportunities, either to advance their reputations or defend them. By engaging non-customer stakeholders that are active online – such as industry analysts, investors and academics, among others – business can turn these groups into not only advocates and amplifiers during good times, but also trusted voices who can bring credibility to a company’s response in a time of crisis.”