According to the recent Digital Investor report from Brunswick this year, over half of investors expect to hear directly from CEOs (via social channels), which represents a huge jump of 21 points compared to 2018. The tide appears to have well and truly turned.
For CEOs and senior execs, it's suddenly much more important to have a social/ digital profile. Those that don't risk being left behind by their competitors and probably are unlikely to be hired in the near future.
When it comes to buying products/ services, according to Edelman's recently released Trust Barometer research, consumers don't trust what CEOs say anywhere near as much as technical experts, peers or even average employees. Presumably, they are perceived as the purveyors of the Kool-Aid when it comes to selling their firm's services but more truthful when courting investors.
The Brunswick report also looked at which channels were most trusted for research and as a basis for actually making investments. Search engines & blogs remain top and then in terms of social platforms LinkedIn came top, surpassing Twitter.
Wikipedia is also widely used as it often offers insights that would never see the light of day on Investor Relations sites or the corporate website. It also calls out podcasting's ever-increasing popularity, particularly in the UK as a great way to reach key audiences. (Any CEOs / IR teams reading this are welcome to check out Passle's recently launched Podcasting functionality).
It remains to be seen how compliance and Investor Relations teams handle this new requirement. From the personal experience, the majority of content by CEOs is ghostwritten or at least heavily edited. Those that can find a true, authentic voice will stand out from the crowd. Will this accelerate the hiring of younger, digital natives to the top positions in firms?
While typical use cases like sector research, company news, and market information remain more common, the desire of investors to rely on digital to hear directly from senior executives is particularly significant. It suggests that executives who lack a strong, personal digital profile and content strategy are creating a new communications risk.