While many business owners rely on social media teams to be active online, it might be time for them to get their hands dirty. According to a recent study by social media branding firm BRANDfog, consumers and employees think highly of company leaders who engage on social platforms.

Survey results show that engagement from senior level executives can benefit how consumers view a brand and its leadership. Seventy-one percent of respondents said CEO participation in social media leads to improved brand image. Additionally, 78 percent said it leads to better communication, and 64 percent said it provides transparency.

BRANDfog also found that 77 percent of those surveyed are more likely to buy from a company if its CEO uses social media to “clearly define company values and leadership principles.”

CEO participation also benefits employees. The study found that 82 percent of employees surveyed trust a company more when its CEO and leadership team communication through social media. However, social media adoption continues to be a challenge among executives, some citing the wait for new tools and technologies, while others just lack the skills.

Peter Aceto, CEO of ING Direct Canada, is known for his tweeting. He told eMarketer that he uses social media to gauge how employees and consumers see the company. “We saw it as a competitive advantage for us,” Aceto said. “There was no science. There was no ROI. We just needed to get going, start to build a community and learn about how we can use it.”

Whether you’re a CEO, co-founder, or just simply “a boss,” talk to your marketing team, dust off that keyboard, and give social media a try. If you’re not ready to jump right in to Twitter, start building a professional network on LinkedIn and grow from there.

[Via: eMarketer, Image credit: Foreign and Commonwealth Office]