Top Ways CEOs Use Social Media to Manage Their Reputation

By Akeem Anderson

For many C-Suite executives, joining a social network can be intimidating. Uncertainty around what platforms to choose, how often to post or what to share can often deter C-Suite executives from building their digital profiles.

However, as described in our H/Advisors Abernathy Social in The C Suite Report, savvy Fortune 100 CEOs overcome those challenges by building a robust, polished and defining digital presence. Not every CEO does this in the same manner. While some CEOs focus on a steady cadence of content across multiple social media channels, others opt for more prescriptive but impactful means of connection on individual channels.

Here’s a look at four habits shared by CEOs who effectively use social media to build, enhance, and protect their reputations.

  • They wrote about more than just company news.
    While company news accounted for more than a third of CEO social media posts, another quarter of their posts were purely personal. These Fortune 100 CEOs shared anecdotes, celebrated holidays, or gave followers a peek into their family and personal lives. Content like this is effective, helping to draw likes, shares, and comments from key stakeholders in executives’ professional networks. For example, a tweet from Google CEO Sundar Pichai celebrating Diwali was the tweet receiving the highest engagement of 2022 among Fortune 100 CEOs, demonstrating how well non-company related content can be received on social media.

    CEOs may be reasonably reluctant to leave the safety of corporate messaging, but there are benefits to showcasing personality in their digital content strategy.

  • They are not just lurking on social media, they are engaged.
    Our research found that active leaders posted at least once-per-week on social media, with average CEOs posting twice a month on LinkedIn and 5 times a month on Twitter.

    While not every executive needs to hit those high marks, our research found that CEOs who posted consistently were more able to grow their audience. For example, on Twitter, CEOs with the highest tweet counts were also among the top 5 most followed CEOs, suggesting that a steady cadence is a critical way to increase visibility and connections on social media.

    Something that differentiates the most social media savvy Fortune 100 CEOs is that, in addition to posting and sharing original content on their social network of choice, they often comment, like or share on peer or employee posts, helping to increase affinity and reciprocity within their network. 

  • They have verified and optimized digital profiles.
    Simply keeping their social media profiles up to date can do a lot for CEOs looking to protect their reputation. CEOs who fail to keep these platforms updated leave themselves at risk of misinformation or being impersonated.

    ‘Social in the C-Suite Report’ revealed as well that many CEOs haven’t yet focused on this area, as fewer than half of CEOs on social media had updated profiles, biographies and updated links on their profiles (48% on LinkedIn and 12% on Twitter). Fewer than 2% have claimed or managed their Google Knowledge profile, the biographical information Google Search provides when someone searches for any public figure.

    Optimizing one’s social profile is well worth the effort, as CEOs with updated profiles earn 37% more likes, shares, clicks and comments on posts than their peers. 

  • They focus on more than just building a following.
    Many CEOs have a large following across social channels, with Fortune 100 CEOs achieving an average of 2.6 million followers across social channels. However, our research showed that having a wealth of followers (100,000 or more) made it harder for CEOs to earn the same rate of engagement as those with under 100,000 followers.

    P&G CEO Jon Moeller provides a good example of a CEO who succeeds on social without drawing the biggest crowds. He isn’t among the most followed (ranked within in 50th percentile) CEOs among his peer set but earned the highest engagement rate (18%) among Fortune 100 CEOs. His most popular post was related to earnings, where he shared a webcast replay of the earnings call alongside compelling social friendly graphics of quarterly performance.

  • Is Your C-Suite Ready to Leverage Digital Media? C-suite executives with a presence on social media have moved from a novelty to a norm, making it imperative that most executives at least consider how they show up on search and social channels. 

    While there’s no one right way for executives to engage with social media, a strategy anchored in best practices can unlock reputational advantages for CEOs and their fellow C-suite peers and colleagues.

  • For more insight into trends among CEOs on social media, download the H/Advisors Abernathy Social in The C Suite Report.