Leading from the Front: Successful Strategies for the Social CEO

Strategic Communications

February 1, 2021

Leading from the Front: Successful Strategies for the Social CEO

Most large companies have embraced social media channels to communicate with their customers, employees, investors and other audiences. From Twitter to Facebook, and Instagram to LinkedIn, the last decade has seen businesses engage on these platforms in increasingly sophisticated ways.

Other than globally renowned CEOs like Elon Musk, early adopters like former Unilever CEO Paul Polman, or CEOs of leading large tech firms, the role of leadership engagement on social media channels has been relatively overlooked until now. Over the past decade, corporate social media strategies and dedicated social media teams have principally focused on company channels – ignoring perhaps the biggest potential voice in their toolkit – their own leaders.

This is changing. As social media use rose further during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and CEOs were forced to lead from home, the trend of CEOs more actively engaging on social media has accelerated. Our research shows that in the FTSE 100, 26% of CEOs are posting regularly on at least one of LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram. In France and Germany, this trend is even more pronounced, with 53% and 68% of CAC 40 and DAX 30 CEOs respectively pursuing active engagement.

In the first eight months of 2020, 69 CEOs from the FTSE 100, CAC 40 and DAX 30 collectively posted on social media a total of 3,224 times, or an average of 47 times per active CEO.

At a time when corporate stakeholders are using social media more than ever before, it makes sense for an increasing number of CEOs and other business leaders to leverage social media platforms to talk directly to corporate stakeholders. But what type of content is it that audiences want to see? By analysing thousands of CEO social media posts, we are able to draw clear conclusions as to how best to be a Successful Social CEO.

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