Business owners who show an understanding of and engage through social media set a great example to their teams and customers. In fact, 77 percent of consumers said they would buy more from their favorite brands if the company’s CEO was tweeting.

IBM polled more than 1,700 CEOs across 18 different industries in 64 countries. The company found that only 16 percent are active on social media platforms.

Although IBM predicts that number will increase to 57 percent within the next three to five years, it’s especially alarming considering companies that outperform competitors are 30 percent more likely to have adopted social media into their marketing strategies.

Despite slow adoption, 71 percent of CEOs consider technology to be the most important part of determining an organization’s future — ranking ahead of economy changes — and 73 percent are budgeting for community outreach efforts.

These findings are similar to an earlier study — performed by BRANDfog — which found that 71 percent of customers polled said CEO participation in social media leads to improved brand image. An April study found that only one in 10 chief information officers (CIOs) was active among social networks.

Your time is valuable and social media can be intimidating, but it’s important to be aware of how it can benefit your bottom line. You don’t have to go all in; start small with one network — such as LinkedIn or Twitter — and determine if it’s a good fit for you.

[Via: AllTwitter, Image credit: Maryland GovPics]