Remember when Apple launched the Initial Public Offering of its stock to the investing public? How about Google?

When Apple went public in December of 1980, it generated more capital than any IPO since Ford Motor Company in 1956. What had begun as a small startup in a California garage, instantly created more millionaires (about 300) than any company in history. Google went public at $85 per share in August 2004—stock is now $829.52 per share. Do you think any of those initial investors thought: Gee, I wish I had waited to do that.

No. The same is true for CEO’s on social media.

CEO’s must be engaged with social media. And now is the time to do it. Here are a few vital stats:

According to a BRANDfog survey of hundreds of employees from a wide range of companies, 94 percent believe a social CEO will enhance the brand; while 82 percent believe companies with social CEO’s are more trustworthy.

And we have known, since the dawn of creation, that trust and brand loyalty are two of the most desired and valuable customer responses. Yet, right now, only 16 percent of CEO’s use social media to communicate with their customers. However, this number is expected to grow drastically over the next three to five years—increasing to 57 percent.

Now a CEO may read this and think: Only 16 percent right now? And I’ve got three to five years before another 41 percent of my peers will be socially engaged too? I’ve got time. I’ll put this off for now.

This where we look to our good friends at Apple again, and differentiate what it means to manage and what it means to lead. Could you imagine if Steve Jobs said, “I don’t see many signs of a music store online. I’ll just wait until that becomes more apparent before we roll out iTunes.”

No way! Lead my CEO friends, lead!

So, let’s review the four most important decisions you must make regarding social media:

  1. YOU—yourself—must be active on social media.
  2. You cannot delegate the full responsibility of social media to your CMO, VP, Director of Marketing, etc.
  3. You will need to meet consistently (at least once a month) to brainstorm and collaborate with your CMO regarding social media initiatives and strategies.
  4. You must have a vision of social media that equally matches the power of this game changing medium.

This is enough to get the juices flowing, but there is more that could be said within each of these, especially number four. Just like a small startup based out of a garage, social media has also changed. Social media has gone from a world of high school, college, and long distance family connections to a highly effective form of “word of mouth”—the likes of which businesses have been trying to capitalize on since the word “referral” was invented.

It’s time not only to position your brand, but to take the lead in doing so. The trust and brand loyalty will be sure to follow.