So far, the best-known piece of information about CFOs’ use of social media may be the story about one of them tweeting a hint about forthcoming earnings and winding up getting fired for it.
Even disregarding the fact that the finance chief violated the letter of SEC regulations, it was an unusual incident, given that CFOs tend to hold their cards close. Of course, there are reasons for using social media other than divulging confidential information, as a new study points out.
The study, which identified 501 senior finance executives who were active on social media between September 15 and December 15 of 2014, was a collaboration of Leadtail, a provider of insights on social media usage, and Intacct, the cloud-based ERP and accounting software firm.
“There is a persistent belief that CFOs don’t participate in social media, even as they are leading organizations that are increasingly being challenged by social media and the disruption it enables,” the study report says. “As a matter of fact, best-in-class financial executives are now actively getting social, both so they can better understand social media’s implications and to benefit from all it can offer.”
During the study period, the 501 finance executives made 48,050 tweets to a collective 460,999 followers (median number of followers: 218), in which they shared 25,216 links. They used 7,738 unique hashtags, were retweeted 14,106 times, and received 37,023 Twitter mentions and replies.
A surprising finding was that more of the studied executives shared multimedia content on Twitter from YouTube (24%) and Instagram (21%) than the more obviously business-focused LinkedIn (21%). And while business, finance, and technology sites did drive the largest portion of shared content (42% of the top 100 content sources), news and lifestyle sites were not too far behind (24%).
In fact, according to the report, “Despite the perception that CFOs are ‘all business,’ their social media relationships and business, on the whole, tend to reveal more personal affinities and interests than [those of] other C-suite executives.”