When will Asian CEOs become more social?

Asian CEOs are a reluctant bunch when it comes to social media and are markedly less ‘social’ than their counterparts elsewhere, at least when communicating with external audiences, according to a new study by PR agency Weber Shandwick.


This is no surprise.

Asian CEOs are on the whole more circumspect and less open than their western peers. The Jack Welsh-style cult does not loom large in these parts. In the close-knit world of family firms and state-owned enterprises, relationships with a few key stakeholders are conducted face-to-face.

Of course, there are exceptions such as Masayoshi Son, founder and long-time CEO of Softbank and inveterate Twitter-er, HCL’s Vineet Nayar or Air Asia’s Tony Fernandes.

Rather, the real surprise is that 55% of CEOs (at least those covered by the research) studied are using social media in some way.

Having studied this area, this strikes me as a strikingly high percentage.

What will it take for Asia’s CEO to clamber out of the corporate cupboard and open up? The question came up at an Amcham meeting last week in Hong Kong and the consensus was that it will require:

  • International expansion, with the need to talk more openly to a broader range of stakeholders 
  • A major company issue or crisis, though loss of face could equally make open leadership even less likely
  • Increased CEO confidence, having used social media for internal communications.

What do you think?


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