social ceosAccording to a recent report by CEO.com, 68% of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence whatsoever.

A mere 32% have at least one account on a social network.

Out of the Fortune 500, only 28 are on Twitter, 38 are on Facebook and 5 are on Google+. Linkedin has a much better representation, with 140 Fortune 500 CEOs (28% up from 26% last year) on the network. According to the report, CEOs are more likely to be on Linkedin than the general public where only 20% are active.

I’m not sure why more CEOs aren’t on Twitter. Richard Branson (@RichardBranson) has more than 4 million twitter followers giving him more followers than many media brands. That’s even more than Twitter founder Jack (@jack) Dorsey’s  2.4 million followers. Donald Trump (realDonaldTrump) has 2.3 million and Marc Cuban (@mcuban) has more than 1.8 million followers. All these numbers pale in comparison to Bill Gates more than 12 million followers.

Of the 28 Fortune 500 CEOs on Twitter, only 19 are “active,” according to the study, meaning they tweeted in the 100 days prior to the study.

The number of CEOs on Facebook is a bit higher than Twitter, at 8% but that’s down from last year’s 7%. Of course, the most popular CEO on Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg, with more than 18 million followers.

According to CEO.com founder Josh James, “the rise of Twitter in particular really points to the need for speed among CEOs, Business leaders desire information that is quick, succinct and easily digestible. Twitter more than any other social network delivers on that.”

My main takeaway: when done right, CEOs have the opportunity to use social platforms to amplify their corporate message and achieve more influence than even some media outlets.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and Google+ or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the Vice President of Global Marketing for SAP where he leads content strategy and serves as the managing editor of the company’s award-winning Business Innovation thought leadership blog site. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to B2B Marketing Insider by Email

13 Comments

  1. Randy said…

    No surprise. Although the measurement of “active” as having tweeted in the previous 100 days is odd. Given best practices is activity daily, I wouldn’t reach back more than a couple days (vacations excluded).

  2. Lars Raae said…

    Maybe those CEO’s have difficultues in grasping the RÓI in online image?

  3. BlackCaesarX (twitter brand for Carlos Romero) said…

    This is a really important fact. In these times speed to market and disseminate information is key, but also the relationships one makes with customers, now considered as followers is a valuable asset to a CEO looking to lead their brand beyond followers (customers) to new areas.

  4. Dan Perez said…

    Maybe it’s because they have large businesses to run and don’t have the same amount of time to invest in social media that social media marketers and consultants have?
    Yeah, maybe.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Hey Dan, I don’t think anything in the survey talked about time of execs vs/ social media marketers. CEOs have time for interviews and they have money for paid media but they could generate more exposure for less money and time if they built their own brands. Bill Gates has more followers than most media companies. thet has value and I doubt Bill Gates is “wasting” his time on social?

  5. Considering we’ve even worked with a CEO that did not even use a computer, the fact that 68% of CEO’s don’t use social media doesn’t surprise me……. hard to believe in this day and age but if you hire people smarter and brighter than you it’s still possible to run a 100+ million dollar company successfully.

    I’m sure many CEO’s feel like it is more of a distraction to them than a benefit.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Good point Christine, but missed opportunity either way. The market is *interested* in hearing what the CEO has to say, even if a PR person manages the account. The upside is huge. The risks are there as well but if managed correctly, it can help the company achieve a level of transparency that the new social consumer / employee and eventually shareholder is expecting.

  6. Pål Rikter said…

    A lot of CEOs are scared stiff about social media, not only for themselves, but for their organisation. The information sharing transition evolving through social media is probably one of the biggest issues CEOs face today. Their sceptisism is easily understood and they need balanced guidance on how to deal with it. It is also worth remembering that listed companies have very strict rules about information sharing and the emergence of social media platforms represents a challenge to protection of stock sensitive company information. CEOs are often more concerned about the stock market than brand building & PR, which partly explains their apprehensions to use social media to the same extent as marketing professionals. I think this context is worth remembering when we look at those low adoption levels among CEOs.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Thanks Pal, I think you are right. Those restrictions are in place for the life offlne as well so nothing really new for them. There is no longer a question of if they should do it. The entire business audience is on social. All future potential customers, employees, shareholders, media, analysts, etc are all there.

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