Social CEOs — Some Surprises

September 14, 2014

Social CEOs — Some Surprises

Social CEOs is a hot topic whether your CEO participates or not. It is also a very relevant topic when it comes to reputation building today. As more CEOs are eager to engage customers, employees and other stakeholders, social media participation will become more of a necessity than a nice-to-have. Our research on this topic has shown that social CEOs are seen as more innovative, inspiring, better leaders and technology-savvy. Thanks to for mentioning our research in their report.

I was pleased to see the new Social CEO report from Domo + It’s a thorough report on Fortune 500 CEOs’ participation in social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Google +).  It is their third such report, having started in 2011, one year after our first one in 2010. Here are some of their key findings from this fascinating profile of social CEOs which holds some revealing surprises.

  • A large 68% of Fortune 500 CEOs do not participate in social media presence at all. As they say, CEOs have more work to do to get onboard (Our research in 2012 found that 66% of global Fortune 500 CEOs participate in social media but the difference is that we include YouTube and the corporate website, meaning that they either have a presence on their corporate website home pages or About Us pages. Our definition is more expansive because we believe that CEO presence on their websites is a first step to social engagment and that YouTube or video is the social CEO hot spot today).
  • Of those who do participate, 2/3 of them engage on only one platform (This is fascinating to me and makes me think that social CEOs are going to be narrowing their social media channels because of the time they have to devote to it. We usually advise CEOs to start with one platform that best serves their purposes.) Only Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is on all five platforms they looked at.
  • 42 F500 CEOs currently have Twitter accounts. 69% of them are active, having posted within the last 100 days. Warren Buffett has the most followers (800,000+) and CEO Hikmet Ersek of Western Union is the fastest growing.
  • Only 6 CEOs have active Facebook fan pages — Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, HP’s Meg Whitman, Microsoft’s Sayta Nadella, Ford’s Alan Mullaly (now former CEO), Cisco’s John Chambers and AutoNation’s Mike Jackson. Most others have semi-private or private ones.
  • CEOs with more complete LinkedIn profiles tend to have more connections. There’s some interesting information on social CEOs and LinkedIn. Of CEOs with only 1 network, 73% chose LinkedIn. It seems to be the entry channel of choice. “Nearly half of all social CEOs are only on LinkedIn—presumably because of the unmistakable business benefits,” says
  • More top CEOs are now on Instagram than Google+.  The report says that when CEOs use Instagram, it is mostly for posting pictures of family vacations and pets! (That probably says more about Google+ than Instagram. However, it is worth watching how Instagram progresses as a CEO vehicle in the near future).
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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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