The ‘Social’ Leader: Why should CEOs engage with Social Media


TKG Team

CEOs engage

In the times of social media boom, businesses are continually striving for an impressive social media presence that can be used to catch the users’ attention and engage with them. Multi-national giants and big corporations spend thousands of dollars every year on hiring social media experts to create and promote a brand appeal.

Since social media is now such a huge part of business marketing strategies, CEOs engaging with social media is only the next logical step. As per the figures on CEOs social media use collected for Fortune’s 2014 Global 500 rankings list, the social engagements of CEOs on the internet have more than doubled between 2010 and 2014.

Nearly 80 per cent of CEOs who use the internet actively interact with their potential customer base either through their company website, YouTube channel or a social-network profile. Of these, 28 per cent of CEOs actively use social networks.

Of the various social media platforms, LinkedIn remained the most preferred choice among CEOs, with a 22 per cent of the total 28 per cent using it actively. With 10 per cent of CEOS as active users, Twitter and Facebook came a distant second, while Google+ lacked far behind with just 2 per cent of CEOs using it. Other platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram are yet to arrive on the CEOs’ radar.

What CEOs Use Social Media for?

There is a strong sense that a large cross-section of CEOs is not leveraging the social media as actively as they should. Just too many CEOs out there have social media profiles that remain unused and dormant. However, a handful of social media savvy ones out there really know how to grab eyeballs and capture their audiences’ attention.

Predictably, heads of some of the world’s biggest tech companies are the ones making a serious impact on social media. Satya Nadella turned to Twitter immediately after he being announced as Microsoft’s CEO. It was his first tweet in four years and he promised he wouldn’t wait another four years before sending out his next. He has been a regular at the social media site since.

He tweets about everything from current affairs to business and sports. His social media strategy has done a lot to provide Microsoft with a human face that the customers can relate to.

On Facebook, of course, Mark Zuckerberg is king. He enjoys a following of more than 30.5 million users on the world’s largest social media network. Zuckerberg’s signature style is to share posts with longish messages, usually accompanied by pictures.

Like Nadella, Zuckerberg too writes about a whole host of topics and uses his account to put a human face on a multi-million corporation. The posts surrounding his wife’s pregnancy, arrival of the couple’s first child and Zuckerberg’s paternity leave where he was seen changing diapers and putting the baby to sleep were quite a hit among his followers.

One of the most social media savvy CEOs out there is perhaps Virgin’s Richard Branson, who is not only active on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn but also uses platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and Google+ with equal vigor. Branson’s posts go well beyond the purview of corporate news and are more personal in nature.

The CEO can be seen sharing his views on social issues he feels strongly about, share stories that strike a chord with him and even needle his competitors every once in a while. Branson’s social media strategy is best summed up in this LinkedIn post, “Like all other areas of business, CEOs have the opportunity to set the bar. By ignoring social networks, they are potentially missing a trick.”

The social media strategy of these tech savvy CEOs clearly point toward one trend – social media presence is best utilized for humanizing brands by offering customers to put a face to big brand names that they can relate to. This approach is far more beneficial than using social media to make a sales pitch or indulging in outright brand promotions.

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Top 10 CEOs on Social Media

By striking the right kind of noted, many CEOs and corporate honchos today enjoy a celebrity-like following on social media sites. We look at top 10 CEOs on social media and what makes them stand out of the crowd:

  1. Tim Cook, CEO, Apple

Like many other enterprising CEOs, Tim Cook too uses his social media presence to showcase his humane side by vocalizing his thoughts on sexual equality, supporting campaigns to end sexual and racial discrimination and more. He uses his Twitter handle to promote Apple products, share news on Apple products or make new announcements only occasionally.

  1. Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

A college drop-out who went on to make a fortune by setting up his own business venture and turning into the largest tech giant in the world makes for easy-to-admire underdog story. Bill enjoys the same kind of love and admiration on social media as he did off it. He uses his social media accounts to offer big insights on science, entrepreneurship and philanthropy.

  1. Jeff Weiner, CEO, LinkedIn

It is only natural for the CEO of one of the most popular social media networks to be internet savvy. He usually talks about social media trends, leadership values, tech developments and recruitments.

  1. Jack Dorsey, CEO, Twitter and Square

Twitter’s new CEO enjoys a vast following of 3,375,988 users. His young and dynamic personality has turned him into a youth icon of sorts on social media. He uses his Twitter handle as a window into his personal life and also to display his passion for photography. Ever since he has assumed the role of the Square CEO, a major chunk of his social media updates are related next-gen payment technologies.

  1. Anand Mahindra, Chariman/MD, Mahindra & Mahindra

Anand Mahindra, one of the most influential names in the Indian business circles, has a lively presence on microblogging site Twitter. The focus of his tweets is usually on entrepreneurship and his vision for India’s growing role in the global markets.

  1. Arianna Huffington, Co-founder, President and Editor-in-Chief, AOL Huffington Post Media Group

She is immensely popular on social media with a 3,998,704 LinkedIn Influencer Followers and 2,243,529 followers on Twitter. She uses her social media accounts to voice her thoughts on future of journalism, various facets of a working woman’s life and the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices. Her tweets and posts find resonance with a wide majority of modern age working women.

  1. Ryan Holmes, CEO at Hootsuite and Founder, Invoke

A CEO who has made it big through pioneering innovations in the realm of technology and internet, Ryan Holmes has some useful insights to offer on juggling different networks and channels effectively. He well-timed posts are directed toward marketing, social media management, startups and improving productivity.

  1. Travis Kalanick, Co-Founder and CEO, Uber

Travis is an avid traveler and his Twitter handle is perfect example of mixing business with pleasure in the right amounts. His social media updates are essentially about giving his followers a sneak peek into his different travel sojourns and at the same time disrupting traditional taxi travels.

  1. Jeff Immelt, CEO, General Electric

The General Electric boss embodies what it means to keep abreast with the changing times. He has scaled the social media like a boss and uses his social media accounts to upload interesting blogs and tweets. His attention is focused on environment, technology, and what he calls the industrial internet.

  1. Dennis Crowley, CEO, Foursquare

The pioneer of location-based check-ins prefers to keep his social media updates personal in nature. Following him on Twitter is all it takes to get a sneak peek into his life and adventures. Only rarely does he use social media accounts to promote his ventures, Foursquare and Swarm.

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