Study: Older C-Level Execs Avoid Twitter, Blogs

Are corporate executives embracing Twitter and blogs? Not if they’ve received an invitation to join the AARP.

A survey of top executives at U.S. companies reveals that only 1 percent of those over the age of 50 provide daily contributions to a work-related blog. Forbes Insights performed the study sponsored by Google. Another 4 percent in this age group say they contribute several times a week.

In contrast, 35 percent of executives ages 40 to 49 say they maintain a work-related blog daily. That figure increases to 56 percent of the executives under the age of 40.

The study featured an interview with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, 35, who pointed out that the online retailer has over 400 employees on Twitter. “The world is becoming more and more transparent whether companies choose to accept it or not,” Hsieh told Forbes Insights. Meanwhile, a chief legal officer over the age of 50 said he didn’t see the business value of the interactive tools.

Here are the study’s other findings.

Who’s on Twitter?

The study found a generation gap for those using Twitter and other micro-blogging platforms. Respondents were asked whether they either tweet or generate microfeeds. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 3 percent of the executives over 50 participate in Twitter or another microblog.
  • 34 percent of the executives ages 40 to 49 participate.
  • 56 percent of the executives under 40 participate.

What Information Do Executives Seek?

The top three research topics that C-level executives seek are competitor analysis (53 percent), customer trends (41 percent), and corporate developments (39 percent). However, information priorities vary by job function:

  • Of those executives in sales and marketing, 76 percent say they seek customer trends.
  • Of those executives in finance, 63 percent said they seek competitor analysis.
  • Of those executives in IT, 59 percent seek technology trends.

What Is the Value of Networks?

The rise of online communities notwithstanding, executives still value personal contact. More than three in four executives surveyed say they view guidance from their work colleagues as very valuable; 43 percent say they value online communities.

The study, “The Rise of the Digital C-Suite,” is based on a survey of 354 executives at U.S. companies with annual sales in excess of $1 billion. It also included one-on-interviews. Nearly half held C-level titles, such as CEO, CMO, and CIO; the others held senior-level titles, such as EVP, VP, and director. A total of 12 percent identified themselves as working in sales and marketing.

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