Should CEOs be on social media?

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Andy Raymond.



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Is there still a fear of showing the personal ‘human side’ of a company’s CEO?

The use of social media has evolved into a crucial tool for CEOs within the high-tech sector, facilitating enhanced engagement with key stakeholders and presenting a unique opportunity to enhance corporate reputation. However, research indicates a hesitancy among Director and ‘C’ level executives to fully embrace the breadth of social media platforms, with a notable preference for LinkedIn.

In many cases, the responsibility for digital communication and building an online presence is delegated to the marketing team. This shows the CEO is still communicating with their audience, but it can also be obvious to their social audience that the interactions are fabricated. It is becoming increasingly valuable for CEOs to utilise social media themselves.

The CEO is central to shaping company performance and studies from esteemed resources like Harvard Business Review and others have found that nearly half of a company’s reputation and market value is often attributable to the CEO’s personal brand. 

With over four decades of experience partnering with technology and engineering leaders, it is still evident that there is often an ingrained fear of what the implications are with leaders engaging with their audience on social media. There is increased awareness of how a company’s reputation could be damaged by articulating the wrong message. However, the public is more likely to treat the words of the CEO as more trustworthy than those of a faceless marketing employee running the business’s social mouth. Furthermore, a more genuine and transparent representation of the brand is developed, which in time lends credibility.

While CEOs have often maintained their social presence, there are great opportunities for social participation to garner significant customer loyalty, it is an opportunity to nurture the future of their company by attracting and recognising top talent. It is clear to say that CEOs who are not afraid to embrace the power of social media will have a significant competitive edge.

Benefits of CEOs on Social Media:

  • Brand Visibility and Awareness: CEOs utilising social media platforms establish a direct channel to engage with a broader audience. By sharing company updates, industry insights, and most importantly personal perspectives, CEOs can enhance brand visibility and increases awareness.
  • Humanising the Brand: Active CEO participation in social media can humanise their brand. Sharing personal stories, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and insights into their leadership style can create a more relatable and approachable image for both the CEO and the company.
  1. Richard Branson for example has over 40 million followers on social media and he blogs regularly on issues ranging from entrepreneurship to the environment and adventure. 
  2. Tim Cook has over 13.5 million followers, which is 7.5 million more than the Apple company account. The Apple CEO, tweets about upcoming products and shows him meeting with Apple employees. Cook is known for tweeting about different heritage months and holidays, like Black History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and Ramadan.
  3. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft shares business updates and technology news on social media. He also uses it to communicate core values, such as social justice, equality, and diversity. Nadella also shows good crisis management on social. When Altman, CEO of Open AI -- an important partner of Microsoft -- was abruptly fired by the board, Nadella immediately took to social media to express the company's position
  • Thought Leadership: Social media offers CEOs a platform to showcase their expertise and thought leadership within their industry. Sharing valuable content, industry trends, and insights can position the CEO as an authority figure, which can positively impact the perception of the company.
  • Building Relationships: Social media enables CEOs to connect directly with customers, clients, employees, and other stakeholders. Engaging in conversations, responding to comments, and participating in discussions can foster a sense of community and build strong relationships.
  • Crisis Management: In the event of a crisis, social media can be a powerful tool for CEOs to communicate directly with the public, address concerns, and share updates. It provides a platform for transparent communication and can help mitigate the impact of a crisis on the company's reputation.
  • Recruitment and Talent Acquisition: Social media can be an effective recruitment tool. CEOs showcasing the company's culture, values, and achievements. It also allows CEOs to communicate directly with job seekers and build connections within the professional community.
  • Competitive Edge: In today's digital age, having a strong social media presence is often considered a standard in business. CEOs who actively use social media may gain a competitive edge by staying ahead of industry trends, monitoring competitor activities, and adapting strategies accordingly.
  • Networking Opportunities: Social media opens up networking opportunities with other industry leaders, influencers, and potential business partners. It can facilitate collaborations, partnerships, and the exchange of ideas that can contribute to the growth of the business.
  • Employee Advocacy: When CEOs are active on social media, it can inspire and encourage employees to become brand advocates. Employees may share their CEO's posts, helping to amplify the company's message and reach a broader audience.

Only recently, a seasoned business leader that I have known for many years called me to say, “Do you know company ‘xxxx’? They have a new CEO. I have admired him for some time, and I would like to work for an organisation he is leading. Can you get me in front of him?” The CEO's brand and reputation were more important than the brand and reputation of the business he was taking leadership of.

As digital research becomes both easier to accomplish and more sophisticated with AI in its capabilities, your customers are just a click away from your competition.

Ultimately, a CEO brand is simply a straighter line to increasing top-line revenue because a well-known CEO gets access to more deal flow and brings greater revenue. This is accomplished through the process of getting the right message directly in front of the target audience by using a strategic blend of social media presence, seminar and guest speaking engagements, award ceremonies, and savvy PR.

Challenges and Considerations in CEOs' Social Media Engagement:

Becoming a social CEO is not only a nice-to-have but increasingly a must. While the benefits are evident, challenges accompany the journey of becoming a social CEO. Balancing personal and professional life. Social media can be all-consuming, and it can be hard to step away from the platform. Maintaining an active and engaging presence on social media requires time and effort

Additionally, social media can also bring negative feedback from customers or critics. As a social CEO, you will have to handle this feedback and respond constructively. Publicly addressing every negative comment may not always be the best strategy and ignoring them can also have consequences. There can also be privacy concerns: CEOs who share personal information or opinions can lead to scrutiny, and there is a risk of personal details being misinterpreted or misused.

To mitigate these potential negatives, CEOs should approach social media use strategically, be mindful of their audience and messaging, and consider seeking guidance from communication professionals or legal advisors when needed. And remember it's important to approach it with authenticity and consistency, to maximise the positive impact on the business.

In conclusion, embracing the power of social media is no longer a nice-to-have but a strategic imperative for CEOs.

At Redline Executive we enable high-technology companies to build world-class teams, supplying exceptional diverse talent to generate value for shareholders.

We understand the differing talent needs of the technology and engineering sector, where search success requires being in tune with the marketplace both within the UK and the wider global market.

To view our latest assignment, click here for more information on Redline Executive, please contact +44 (0)1582 878907 or email ARaymond@redlinegroup.com.

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