NEW YORK: The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more important for executives to carefully manage their online presence, according to the latest Qnary study.
In the fourth edition of its Changing Face of Executive Reputation report, Qnary partnered with Emerson College and the Blanquerna School of Communications in Barcelona to survey more than 1,000 professionals around the world who are managers or above.
The study found that using social media and professional sites such as LinkedIn is a common occurrence, with 90% of respondents saying they peruse or update LinkedIn every week and 92% using social media to share professional news and content regularly. One-third of business professionals said they follow executives on YouTube.
"What we've seen over the last four years is the understanding that maintaining and optimizing your online presence is not a 'nice to have' anymore, but a 'need to have,'" said Bant Breen, Qnary founder and chairman.
During a global pandemic when most of the world is social distancing, business has been relegated to video conference calls and virtual events. Therefore, how an executive or business is represented online matters more than ever, according to Breen.
"We're now living in a world where we're going from one Zoom meeting to the next, and we're quickly darting over to LinkedIn or Google to see who we're meeting with," he said.
Breen added that the COVID-19 period accelerated the trend of society's reliance on digital outlets. The study found that more than 38% of those surveyed viewed a social media professional’s presence to be more important during the pandemic.
That dependence on online media has heavily influenced consumer behavior, as well. Nearly 77% of respondents said that an executive’s social media presence can help their organization’s sales growth.
Younger respondents are more aware of the importance of having a digital presence. Professionals who are 18 to 44 years old are four times more likely to post multiple times a day than those ages 45 to 71. Of that same age group, 65% are more likely to buy from brands or companies represented by professionals they follow.
The growing demand for executives to take a stance on social media shows up in how companies have responded to movements like Black Lives Matter and climate change activism, said Breen.
"The traditional communications strategy was that no one should say anything, but now when you see an absence of executives, that's a statement in and of itself," he said. "Consumers and even other executives are expecting to see more active behavior and engagement by professionals."
The study was conducted online in July in 12 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.