The Majority Of Executives are Still Social Media Underachievers

Recent research on C-Suite Executives social media participation indicates that 66% of executives say they participate in either personal or professional social media, but the reality is considerably different.    To compare what Executives were saying to what they were actually doing, I looked at the Twitter and LinkedIn* profiles of 300 Fortune 500 C-suite Executives (the same number as the attitudinal study) to see what actual behaviors were.  What I found shed a better light on actual participation, which ranged from absentee Executives to social media rockstars.    The behaviors broke down into seven social personas.

1. The Absentee:  I couldn’t find Twitter or LinkedIn profiles for many executives.  A third of Executives indicate they don’t participate in social media professionally and 13% don’t participate at all.   However, over half of non-users said they wanted to participate in social media in the future.

2. The Placeholder.  These executives set up their Twitter and/or LinkedIn accounts years ago, but have never really engaged.

Many never added a photo or ever published or engaged in content. On LinkedIn, many have less than 500 connections, which suggests that they are not accepting connection requests. VISA CEO Alfred Kelly has an inactive Twitter Account and just 105 connections on LinkedIn.

3. The Lurker.  They have a profile on LinkedIn or Twitter, sometimes both, and a have significant following.  But they tend not to be active in connecting with others. They never like or share content from others, or publish content on their own.  Terry Clark, CMO of UnitedHealth Group, published just one quick article on LinkedIn, looking for a new assistant, and garnered over 1800 followers.  Clearly, people want to hear more from Terry.

4. The Hesitating Honcho. Their accounts are often fully set up, and they engaged in or published content initially, but their engagement faded.  Many haven’t engaged in years.  Howard Ungerleider, CFO of Dow Chemical, set up his  Twitter account in 2014, and has replied to two tweets in 2015.  It’s been crickets ever since.

5. The Recidivist.  Recidivist accounts are setup, and over time they have gone through spurts of engagement, only to fall silent.

Silvia Lagnado, CMO of McDonald’s, joined Twitter in September 2015, before she became CMO.  After a few initial retweets, she fell silent until this spring, then fell silent again.

6. The Engaged Executive.  These are executives that have chosen a particular platform, and have published and engaged others on that platform.  

While Jamie Dimon, CEO of Chase, has a placeholder Twitter account, he had chosen to focus on LinkedIn.  He has amassed over 700,000 LinkedIn followers by publishing 16 articles and sharing others.   Conversely, Chase CMO Kristen Lemkau has focused on Twitter, with over 7000 followers.

7. The Media Magnate.  

These rare executives use multiple platforms well.  Just before John Flannery became CEO of GE this summer, he set up a Twitter account and became much more active on Linkedin.  He has quickly amassed over 30,000 followers on LinkedIn and over 8,000 on Twitter .

Conclusion:  While two thirds of executives say they are using social media professionally, the reality is that most are not realizing it’s full potential to benefit their companies, their communities, or themselves.

In a future post I will explore the reasons why so many executives under-utilize social media, as well as what can be done to improve utilization.


*Due to privacy filters, I was not able to get an accurate sense of Executive participation on Facebook.  





3 comments on “The Majority Of Executives are Still Social Media Underachievers

  1. Naketa Thigpen on

    This is a sharer. I really appreciate how you categorized the different forms of social media engagement by executives and how important it is to brand thyself!

  2. TimothyKirm on

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