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CEOs are more visible on company websites, but less visible on Twitter than two years ago

15th March 2013

At last, CEOs are making an effort to communicate online. According to a report by PR firm Weber Shandwick, Socializing your CEO: From (Un)Social to Social, the amount CEOs are engaging online has almost doubled in the last two years. Two years ago, Weber Shandwick research found that 36 per cent of elite CEOs were engaging online in some way, while its recent study has found nearly 66 per cent are doing so.

Social CEO Vital Statistics

Source: Weber Shandwick

Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at Weber Shandwick, says that this two-year growth spurt comes from CEOs’ heightened visibility on their company’s websites (up from 32 to 50 per cent) and their increased video presence (up from 18 to 40 per cent). She adds: “This upwards momentum provides evidence that CEOs are slowly, but decidedly, stepping into social waters. They are starting to understand that company websites are the gateways to corporate reputations for now.”

Gaines-Ross believes that having a stronger presence on a company website is a first step to “socialising” a CEO. She adds: “Putting executive communications front and centre online gives stakeholders more accessible leaders, and these assets can be easily referenced by search engines and linked to from company social channels as needed.”

Percentage of CEOs who have a/are visible on...

Source: Weber Shandwick

However, when it comes to using social networks, CEOs have hardly moved in their use of them (up from 16 to 18 per cent). The study shows there has even been a drop in Twitter presence over the past few years among the elite CEO set. Ten per cent of CEOs have a Facebook account, the most commonly used social network by CEOs. Few are on Google+ and none have a Pinterest profile.

Gaines-Ross says this is disappointing, as the research shows you don’t have to be very active to make an impact. She gives an example: “One CEO has a Facebook profile, but directs visitors to the corporate Facebook page for more frequent interaction. He may not regularly use his personal Facebook account, but he acknowledges the importance of engaging with customers online.”


From June to August 2012, Weber Shandwick researched the activities of CEOs from the top 50 companies listed in this year’s Fortune Global 500 rankings. Social networks, blogs, company YouTube channels and company websites were audited to see how CEOs were engaging with external audiences, and these findings were compared to similar research carried out in 2010.

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