The top 100 CEOs on social media

A whopping 61 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs still have no social media presence at all. CEOs who are using social media prefer Twitter and LinkedIn as their channels of choice.

100 CEOsToday the annual Top 100 CEOs on social media list has been published and it’s no surprise to see Virgin’s Richard Branson at number one.

Having recently read his The Virgin Way: How to Listen, Laugh, Learn and Lead book, I’ve been viewing his Tweets @richardbranson in a different light. It’s evident he practices what he preaches, particularly when it comes to listening.

This most recent list features both CEOs from large corporations—who have traditionally been slower to embrace social media—as well as a selection of tech CEOs, millennials, and younger entrepreneurs.

Is your CEO on the list? What conversations are you having about social media? As ever you’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.

Ranking methodology
Steve-TappinThe rankings were compiled by Xinfu (global CEO experts and coaches) and Hootsuite (the most widely used platform for managing social media).

They combined both quantitative and qualitative factors to determine the CEOs who are really making an impact.

Steve Tappin, @stevetappin, CEO at Xinfu (pictured), says: “Social media represents a cultural shift, not just a technological one, and it isn’t going anywhere.

If CEOs fail to adapt, they don’t risk being left behind; they will be left behind.

“If social media is where consumers are, why wouldn’t CEOs want to be there? The truth is that many business leaders still have concerns about social as a potential distraction or source of controversy, but these risks can be easily mitigated with the right tools and training.

“When used correctly, social media can provide CEOs and their customers with a direct line of communication, boost PR and marketing efforts, increase productivity, and help gather competitor insights.”

As the face of their company, CEOs are realising that a strong social presence doesn’t just raise their own personal clout, but also builds trust, and forges a more personal connection with consumers.

A look behind the metrics
Along with the sheer number of followers each CEO has, they looked at who is creating true “value-added content” for their followers. This was measured in terms of each CEO’s originality, macro-environmental and industry insight, and the light they shed on their own company.

They favoured CEOs who were actively and consistently contributing to a leadership agenda, and reduced their score if their social media presence was seen as too self-promoting, too formal, or if they believed that the CEOs themselves had no direct involvement in writing and posting content (interesting!).

Where are CEOs active on social media?

linkedinTwitter and LinkedIn remain the two primary networks for CEOs engaging on social media.

Xinfu state: “Many CEOs have started out by registering a basic profile on LinkedIn, without necessarily having any strategy for posting public updates. The game changer has been the growth of LinkedIn as a professional publishing platform.”

Thirty-three of the Fortune 500 CEOs have been invited to join its exclusive ‘Influencer’ program, allowing them to write blog-style articles and reach a more targeted, professional audience.

Does your CEO blog? If you have a story to share about how your CEO is using social media – or perhaps the reasons why she/he isn’t, do get in touch.

The future of CEOs on social media

As social continues to play an even bigger role in the lives of consumers, the mere presence of a CEO on social media will become trivial compared to the actual strength of that presence. A simple social post can both amplify a message to the masses while opening the door for personal connection.

Steve Tappin adds: “CEOs, if they haven’t already, will learn to use both the intimacy and massive scope of social. LinkedIn and Twitter are already influencing how consumers think, as social media evolves into a primary source of how individuals receive information and form opinions.

“We predict the trend of CEOs adopting and properly engaging with social media will  continue to accelerate throughout 2016.

We expect there will soon be a tipping point, in which the majority of CEOs will start finding success beyond the boardroom, and onto social media platforms as well.”

Further reading via the All Things IC blog

How Sage uses social media for internal comms
Why 2016 is the year CEOs need to trust employees
CEO comms: why silence is not golden
The rise of wonky comms.

What do I think?
Authenticity is the most important thing. If your CEO is using social media to communicate inside or outside of your organisation, it has to be them doing it. Ghostwritten comms has no place here.

I ran some training for a client’s Board a fortnight ago as an introduction to social media. Throughout our time together we discussed many things, and one of which was the role of leaders when it comes to communicating, not just online.

The same rules apply – you need to be consistent, accurate and crucially, demonstrate you are listening. Done well, CEOs can have a fantastic impact using social media. I expect to see the number of Fortune 500 CEOs on that list rising over time as familiarity and comfort grows.

The full list is below and online:


Top 100 _ 1

Top 100 CEOs - 2

Top 100 - 3

Top 100 - 4

Top 100 - 5

Top 100 - 6

Top 100 - 6

Top 100 - 7

Top 100 - 7

Top 100 - 9

Top 100 - 9

Top 100 - 10

Post author: Rachel Miller

Images: Courtesy of Xinfu.

First published on the All Things IC blog 17 March 2016.

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