(Bloomberg) -- CEOs who think having a Twitter account is optional may want to think again.

Employees prefer working for business leaders who are active on social media by a ratio of 4 to 1, according to a survey by Brunswick Group, an advisory firm. Executives who are vocal online are seen as more transparent and accessible, a perception crucial for retention and recruitment, the firm found.

Far from a frivolous sideshow, platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn have increasingly become a way for C-suite executives to communicate directly with staff, investors and the public. 

Tesla Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has famously leveraged his Twitter following over the years, including into a bid to take over the platform itself, while Adam Aron of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. took to the site to ride the meme-stock frenzy that sent the company’s stock price soaring. Aviva Plc’s CEO Amanda Blanc last week addressed sexist comments she received during a shareholders meeting in a post on LinkedIn.

Brunswick surveyed 3,600 employees of companies with staff of more than 1,000 and 2,800 readers of financial publications. 

Some 82% of employees will research a CEO’s online presence when considering joining the company and nearly 80% of employees and over 90% of financial news readers expected leaders to communicate on social media when a crisis hits. 

Nearly 90% of employees and financial readers use social media every month compared to just 70% that use traditional media sources, according to Brunswick, adding to both the importance and risk of these platforms.

Executives can highlight what they want and control the narrative about their company in real-time, Arvind Malhotra, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina Kenan–Flagler Business School, said in an interview. There’s always a chance there will be people who disagree, or who use the platform to express grievances, he said. Even when the response is negative, executives who respond directly and honestly might still win more support than they lose.

“But this requires a communication style very different from a letter to shareholders in an annual report -- if you’re not authentic you can turn people off rather than get them excited about the firm,” Malhotra said. 

(Updates with commentary in last two paragraphs.)

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