The 2012 Fortune 500 Social CEO Index Report (pdf) by CEO.com and sponsored by Domo, released yesterday, found that CEOs are lagging far behind the general population in their use of social media. Fortune 500 CEOs Use of Social Media Twitter Facebook LInkedIn Nothing really surprising on the face of the findings as the general population is going to include a lot of younger people who are very active on social media. But the specific findings as well as the opportunity that awaits savvy law firms by using social media are interesting to review and consider.

Here’s the breakdown by the numbers on Fortune 500 CEOs using the respective social media platforms. The use of Google+ and Pinterest was so low it’s not worth mentioning,

Twitter

  • 19 CEOs (3.8%) have registered for Twitter (107 million Americans (34.3% of US population) have registered for Twitter)
  • 5 of the 19 CEOs who signed up for Twitter have never tweeted
  • 9 F500 CEOs (1.8%) are active on their Twitter accounts (tweeted within the last 100 days)
  • The average amount of followers for CEOs with Twitter accounts is 33,250
  • Twitter usage increased from 3.4% to 3.8% for CEOs from 2011 to 2012

Facebook

  • 38 CEOs (7.6%) are on Facebook (157,348,340 Americans (50.5% of US population) are on Facebook)
  • 25 CEOs (65.8% of CEOs on Facebook) have less than 100 friends
  • 11 CEOs (28.9% of CEOs on Facebook) have between 100-500 friends
  • 2 CEOs (5.3% of CEOs on Facebook) have more than 500 friends

LinkedIn

  • 129 CEOs (25.9%) have LinkedIn Profiles (62,790,000 Americans (20.2% of US population) have LinkedIn Profiles)
  • 32 CEOs (24.8% of CEOs on LinkedIn) are not updated with current company or title
  • 76 CEOs (58.9% of CEOs on LinkedIn) have more than 10 connections
  • 10 CEOs (7.8% of CEOs on LinkedIn) have more than 500 connections
  • 53 CEOs (41.1% of CEOs on LinkedIn) have 10 connections or less
  • 36 CEOs (27.9% of CEOs on LinkedIn) have 1 or 0 connections

Blogging

  • 6 CEOs (1.2% of CEOs) contribute to blogs

Though these numbers are low, a study earlier this year by IBM which found 16% of CEOs using social media to communicate with customers and their influencers also found the number would balloon to 57% within 3 to 5 years. The take away for law firms?

  • Don’t beat yourselves up for lagging in your use of social media. The leaders of corporate America are lagging as well. You, as a law firm, will be learning the value of social media and as well as it nuances right along side corporate leaders.
  • Leaders in corporate America, though using social media in small numbers today, are going to increasingly to connect with others via social media to build and nurture relationships.
  • Lawyers in major law firms who want to nurture build relationships and grow their reputation with CEOs directly, as opposed to solely the general counsel’s office, have a growing opportunity to do so through social media.
  • Those managing and leading law firms (those serving as CEOS of law firms) have an opportunity to use social to build relationships with corporate leaders and establish themselves as thought leaders in the law, in niche industries, and in business, in general.

As Domo founder, Josh James, wrote in a blog post at Forbes in advance of the report’s release, “The primary reason you have to be social is because that is where your customer lives. Even if you are not leveraging it to close business and interact with your customers, you have to spend enough time online to at least understand the shift in the world.”