Register to download 2016 Global Street Fight™ Study
The Global Street Fight™ was developed by G&S Business Communications as a thought-leadership platform to describe the current state of the global economy and the challenges facing today’s business, marketing and communications leaders as they compete for market share. In light of this, chief executives face the dilemma of choosing the path to restore public confidence in their leadership abilities and strengthen their own reputations.
G&S and Harris Poll, now a unit of Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights to aid business decisions, teamed up to explore public perceptions of corporate leadership in today’s environment, focusing on the areas of boldness, innovation and trust. The Global Street Fight™ Study 2016 was co-developed by Steve Halsey, G&S SVP and managing director, business consulting, in partnership with Harris Poll.
The results are insightful views of how the public sees the C-suite today.
The American public is recovering confidence in senior business leaders, but social media is a missed opportunity to built trust among millennials and Gen Xers.
Also, those who are highly informed and regularly participate in influential behaviors in both traditional and non-traditional media, described as “opinion elites,” is twice as likely to say that senior leadership is stronger today than it was five years ago.
In another sign of recovering confidence, opinion elites also believe that senior leaders are doing a better job responding to crisis situations.
Social Media and the CEO
Sixty-four percent of Americans think it’s important for senior business leaders to have an active presence on social media, but they’re not looking for personal anecdotes or business advice.
Despite the instant personalization that’s part-and-parcel of social media, G&S/Harris Poll found that the general public is at least twice as likely to expect business versus personal news on senior leaders’ social pages.
- 46% of Americans equate a senior business leader’s active presence on social media with keeping others informed on their company’s business activities.
- Only 16% equate it with sharing personal stories and anecdotes.
Of particular interest to business communicators, only 28% of Americans equate a senior leader’s active presence on social media with personally managing his or her own account instead of using a ghostwriter or marketing team.
The opportunity to bolster corporate confidence is particularly large among millennials (ages 18-34) and younger Gen Xers (ages 35 – 44). In addition to expecting business information from senior leaders on social media, these cohorts increasingly hear about what’s going on with companies through social media. They’re more likely to trust information about companies when they get it from social media, and they place greater trust in senior leaders who are transparent on social channels.
Here’s how the numbers break out:
- 63% of millennials and 58% of younger Gen Xers increasingly hear about what’s going on with companies through social media versus other channels.
- 53% of millennials and 47% of younger Gen Xers place greater trust in company information when it comes through social media versus channels.
- 67% of millennials and 61% of younger Gen Xers find senior leaders more trustworthy when they are transparent on social media.
The G&S/Harris Poll survey further reveals that business news trumps personal news not only in terms of public expectation, but also in terms of public preference. Thirty-six percent of Americans want business leaders on social media to talk about their company’s vision, 35% want them to talk about their company’s products and services, 32% want them to talk about their company’s customer service issues and experiences and 25% want to hear about employee culture and engagement. By contrast, only 18% want professional development tips, only 15% want personal stories or anecdotes and only 13% want advice on running a business.
American Perceptions of Business Leaders
Opinion elites rated the following characteristics as very important when dealing with crises: Accountability at 89 percent, honesty at 86 percent and delivers on promises at 79 percent.
- 78% of Americans think senior leadership at large companies is stronger (12%) or about the same (66%) today compared to five years ago
- 19% of opinion elites think it is stronger (versus 17% in 2015 and 10% in 2014)
- 20% of opinion elites think senior leadership is very innovative (versus 11% in 2015 and 10% in 2014)
- 20% of opinion elites think senior leadership is very bold (versus 10% in 2015)
- 65% of opinion elites say senior leaders at large companies have responded to crisis situations very well or somewhat well in just the past year (up from 49% who said the same in 2015)
Building trust and reputational equity is a key outcome of senior leadership engagement in social media – giving stakeholders the opportunity to see a company through the lens of its leader and for senior leaders to see through the lens of those they hope to influence.