It comes as no surprise that, according to a recent survey, nearly all marketing decision-makers are aware of the importance of social media in their branding efforts. What’s more interesting is that 65 percent say their company’s c-suite is also concerned about how their brand is perceived on the social web.

A better question to have asked these marketers is how they feel the personal brands of their CEOs, CFOs and CMOs are being perceived on social media by fellow employees, customers, investors and the public. If they don’t know, or worse still, if their c-suite executives don’t have a presence online, here’s why it’s imperative that they should.

C-suite branding in motion

Research In Motion (RIM) appointed a new President and CEO, Thorsten Heins, earlier this year after a challenging period for the company, characterized by falling share prices, service outages and the perception of being out of touch with consumer trends.

Thorsten Heins delivering the keynote at Blackberry World 2012. Image by Official Blackberry Images, via Flickr.

RIM’s new leader declared that the company has two immediate priorities: better marketing and better execution. But the former is somewhat ironic when you consider that this CEO’s personal brand is pretty well non-existent online.

When Heins was trumpeted as RIM’s new leader, the public couldn’t find out much about him on his sparsely populated LinkedIn profile, or anywhere else on the web for that matter. This lack of visibility didn’t inspire much confidence among the company’s stakeholders nor did it send the message that he would be a more accessible and transparent leader than his predecessors.

In other words, there seemed to be a disconnect between RIM’s supposedly new brand and its new chief executive’s personal brand.

Great leaders use social media

Another recent survey, by BRANDfog, reveals that c-suite executives who engage in social media are perceived to be better leaders. Their online visibility raises their company’s profile and builds trust, brand loyalty and purchase intent among their customers.

In other words, c-suite executives who participate in social media are better equipped to lead a company, communicate its values and shape a company’s reputation.

Despite the positive benefits of being social, the majority of CEOs and c-suite executives are notably absent from social media channels. Even though 61 percent of Fortune 500 brands were engaging with customers via Twitter, less than 2.5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs tweet themselves.

But how can a senior executive provide strategic direction or budget approval for social media campaigns if they don’t understand the medium? Indeed, 81 percent of respondents to the BRANDfog survey agreed that CEOs who engage in social media are better equipped than their peers to lead companies in a web 2.0 world.

The tweeting c-suite catches the worm

Senior leaders know how important it is to attract top talent to their company, and according to the BRANDfog survey, 78 percent of respondents prefer to work for a company whose leadership is active on social media.

Tania Craig's LinkedIn profile picture.

During Social Media Week in Toronto this year, Tania Craig, Director of Global Recruitment at Barrick Gold Corporation, the world’s largest gold mining company, emphasized how important it is for senior executives to be on LinkedIn. Job candidates want to know more about a company’s leadership before making employment decisions, and Craig said her company makes sure its senior leaders are appropriately represented online.

In fact, LinkedIn is a great place for a c-suite leader to begin her social media journey. LinkedIn allows you to showcase your employment history and accomplishments, as well as your education and volunteer or board-related work. These are the things that represent your own brand, and by extension, that of your company. See you online!