CEOs Lagging Behind in Social Media Participation

By July 31, 2012
CEO lost with social media

Although major companies in the US are increasingly using social media, the people at the top still don’t seem ready to get involved on a personal basis.

Chief executives of major companies don’t practice what they preach when it comes to their communication strategies. In fact, according to a study commissioned by, (“a daily dashboard for CEOs that want to be in the know”), and by the cloud-based management platform, Domo, fully 70% of the CEOs featured in the Fortune 500 list have no presence at all on social media. What is perhaps most worrying is that those who do have an account on one of the social media sites use it very little or not at all, and it is all the more disturbing given that 50% of connected consumers say they are more inclined to make purchases from a company when they have followed one of their tweets. To give the precise figures, only 7.6% of major US company top bosses are on Facebook, a total of just 38 individuals. Moreover, 65.8% of these CEOs have less than a hundred ‘friends’, while only two have more than 500. Leading the pack is Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation, who has 1,723 Facebook friends.

A few CEOs tweet…

Then among the most commonly-used social media comes Twitter, where we find just 3.8% of the CEOs tweeting. The number of followers these people have is however rather impressive - on average 33,250. Rupert Murdoch is the most active boss on Twitter, with more than 249,000 followers and an average of 2 tweets a day, just ahead of Meg Whitman, CEO of Ebay, who has 243,000 followers of her daily two tweets. Meanwhile only 0.8% of the big company bosses are on Google Plus and none at all on Pinterest. The one site that stands out from the pack is LinkedIn. CEO presence is still quite sparse, but nevertheless much higher than on rival sites, with some 25.9% of company CEOs on the Fortune 500 list possessing a LinkedIn profile. And even there, 27.9% apparently have zero connections or just one, while 41.1% have between 1 and 10 connections, 58.9% more than 10 connections and only 7.8% have 500 or more.

…and LinkedIn has slightly more CEO-appeal

According to the study, there are seven basic reasons for this apparent lack of interest. First of all, CEOs don’t really have the time to devote to social media and communicating via social networks does require a high degree of commitment. Other drawbacks mentioned are that the bosses say they are being overloaded with information, and also often reckon they lack knowhow with these channels or even feel that they are past the age when they should be bothering with them. Last but not least, CEOs are worried about putting out wrong information and believe that social media tools tend to amplify any mistakes. However, there is still hope since a separate study conducted by IBM suggests that within three to five years the percentage of all American CEOs on the social networks is likely to surge from the current 16% to 57%. In any case, bosses might well be pushed to get involved by their own employees given that, according to a recent study by Brandfog, 94% believe that if their CEO is present on social media, this will tend to enhance the company’s brand image.

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