Study: CIOs May Like To Talk The Social Media Talk, But Only 10% Walk The Walk

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The use of social media in the enterprise has been a path well-trod by companies using mass market tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to communicate with peers, customers, investors and anyone else who might be interested in what they’re up to. But when it comes to the most senior information executives, they’re actually a little antisocial.

According to data compiled by social software provider harmon.ie, only about 10 percent of CIOs in the top companies — Fortune 250 and and Global 250 — actively use public social networks. Within that group, only four CIOs write blogs, and more than one-third either do not have LinkedIn profiles, or have profiles with fewer than 100 connections.

Among the top-25 most social CIOs are a number of tech names such as SAP (whose CIO Oliver Bussmann topped the list), Google, Microsoft and IBM. The CIOs of media giant Omnicom, Royal Bank of Scotland and Office Depot also made the list.

Harmon.ie says that its analysis is based on a combination of the strength of the CIOs’ LinkedIn network, CIO’s retweet frequency, socialmention scores, blog reach, citations by other influential bloggers, Google+ Circle inclusion and other “related factors.”

What to make of these conclusions? Although you can argue that major businesses will have specialists employed to watch over how a company uses social media, on another level this is kind of surprising. It indicates that people tasked with helming the leading companies in their information technology, and deciding on how to invest in social media specifically, may not know all that much about it, specifically in a first-hand way but possibly more generally, too.

“These 250 CIOs are charged with transforming the world’s largest enterprises, yet our analysis shows that most have relatively little experience using the kinds of tools that are needed to drive that change,” says Mark Fidelman, harmon.ie’s chief social strategist and lead author of the analysis.

But on the other hand, conclusions like this also seem to imply that even if social media has become huge among consumers, most enterprises are not actually putting it front and center in their own IT road maps.

Even with the most social of CIOs, you get a sense that this is all still about laying groundwork for the future rather than staking something out for today. Bussmann at SAP says that his company has found that SAP’s investments in blogs, Twitter and the rest have resulted in only a 3 percent-5 percent positive impact on the SAP brand.

And that’s saying nothing for the times when social media gets used and the result is a big fail.

So how does the world’s “most social CIO” use social media?

SAP’s CIO Oliver Bussmann tells me he got started with his social media use in 2006, with an internal blog covering corporate IT issues such as enterprise mobility — the first foray that many made at that time into user-generated content and getting more social. That blog eventually was made public and Bussmann says it is now one of the most-visited blogs in SAP’s blog network.

Today, he says he uses Twitter (4,218 followers) most of all in his social communication, with Facebook and LinkedIn having secondary roles. He gets the most traffic, he says, from people on Twitter, while LinkedIn is more for people reaching out to him to work at SAP. And on Facebook, “People comment but not so much on business topics.”

One site that seems just as overtly consumer as Facebook but has caught Bussmann’s attention is Pinterest, for its different approach to sharing and organizing information.

“Pinterest is something that is out there working from a visual point of view,” he says. “I can see a great opportunity there, especially when you think of how you can quickly scan 200 or 300 headlines and get a sense of the bigger market environment. I think Pinterest might be the place for sharing in the future.”

[photo: timbu, Flickr]