The chief executive officer and managing director of Access Bank has the most active presence on popular social media network, Twitter, as over 70 percent of bank CEOs abstain from the platform according to a BusinessDay survey.
The survey was carried out to study how leaders of big corporations are using various social media platforms to engage their customers and helping their business brands to reach a larger community. In terms of activity, Nigeria Twitter community ranks second with 350 million geolocated tweets in 2015.
While many leaders across the world are increasingly embracing twitter, with some employing a whole team to manage their social media platforms, including Twitter, a widespread apathy still exists among Nigeria bank CEOs in the BusinessDay survey.
Ayeni Ekundaye, a social media expert told BusinessDay that the CEOs were being conservative because they mostly are not very informed on how powerful and relevant social media has become and also lack a clear understanding of the importance of online reputation management.
“The next challenge will be for the bank CEOs to understand the power of communication and how to manage it. In addition, they do not see the difference between the personality of the title MD of the bank and the brand called the ‘bank’. Furthermore, they do not see it as part of the brand enhancement tool for the bank,” Ekundaye said.
Out of the 19 CEOs surveyed, Access Bank CEO Herbert Wigwe and Diamond Bank CEO Uzoma Dozie had the most active presence on Twitter. Herbert Wigwe’s account @HerbertOWigwe, created on November 2014, has over 11,000 followers with 348 tweets made as at 5 January, 2017. Uzoma Dozie who tweets from @Uzoma_Diamond created on October 2013 has 2,664 followers and has made 168 tweets so far.
While they may be ahead of their peers in terms of engagement, frequency clearly is not their strong suit. Herbert Wigwe’s 348 tweets come at most two times a week, once per day. Uzoma Dozie on the other hand tweets at least once a month.
Meanwhile, CEOs without Twitter accounts include Segun Agbaje (GTB), Ade Ayeyemi (Ecobank), Peter Amangbo (Zenith), Akinsola Akinfemiwa (Heritage), Hassan Usman (Jaiz), Adetokunbo Abiru (Skye); Emeka Emuwa (Union); Phillip Ikeazor (Keystone); Bola Adesola (Standard Chartered); Segun Oloketuyi (Wema); Oluwatomi Somefun (Unity); and Muhammed Jibrin Barde (SunTrust).
With the advent of the digital age, the focus of market influence for many leaders is gradually and steadily shifting to social media, where over two billion people now practically live their lives. David Dubois, INSEAD Assistant Professor of Marketing made the point in 2016 that the most influential CEOs today are social leaders, open to listening, engaging in dialogue with stakeholders and responsive to their followers.
One segment of the market that social CEOs may influence is the millennial also known as the ‘Gen Y’ (born from 1977 to 1994) who are mostly dominant on Twitter. Modupe Ogunyemi, head Digital and Mobile and former Team Lead, Social Media at Access Bank, told BusinessDay that it is very important for millennials that a bank CEO is engaging them on Twitter.
Millennials, she said will “relate more with a bank whose CEO they see more on their preferred social network.” She also noted that it helps if the CEO has an “acceptable persona”. That helps in the perception of the bank as a technology focused organisation.
However, issues of privacy and security may also be behind the bank CEOs apathy towards Twitter. A source at Fidelity Bank Plc who spoke to BusinessDay said the Twitter account of the CEO Nnamdi Okonkwo has been hacked on several occasions and criminal elements also created fake handles to deceive the bank’s customers. Hence the CEO’s handle @NMDOkonkwo that has 150 followers has seen very little activity since it was created in 2014.
Kennedy Uzoka, CEO of United Bank for Africa (UBA) tweets from a protected account @UBAGMD to his 625 followers.
Conservatism may be second nature to bank executives due to the sensitive nature of their business and the fear of revealing vulnerable information that could cost shareholders. Nevertheless, given the changing business landscape and continues customer movement to new platforms, most experts agree with Ekundaye that it pays off in the long run for a bank CEO to be more ‘social’ on Twitter.