Main content

Why don't CEOs eat their own social media dog food?

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan August 7, 2013
Fortune 500 CEOs aren't getting social online according to a new study that finds 68% of them have no social media presence of their own.

Josh James

In today's social media dominated world, the top CEOs are of course tapped into the power of the social network to gain insight about and reach out to their customers, yes?

Er, well, no, not as such it seems.

According to a splendidly mischievous new piece of research, 68% of the top US CEOs have absolutely no presence on any of the major social networks!

Things are getting better year on year it has to be said. Last year the same study found that only 18 of the Fortune 500 CEOs were on Twitter, a number which has now managed to climb to 28.

But - and there's always a but of course - only 19 of that 28 are defined as being 'active' - i.e. having actually tweeted at all in the last 100 days.

What that means is that only 3.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs can be classed as regular Twitter users. And those who are in that small percentage only send an average of 0.98 tweets per day compared to the two tweets per day that 'Joe Public' averages out at.

The study - Social CEO Report - was carried out by Domo - the latest venture from Omniture founder Josh James in association with news site

The study results are drawn from an analysis of the presence and activity of Fortune 500 CEOs on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and Facebook across a fortnight in May.

Of those networks, unsurprisingly enough CEOs are most into LinkedIn with 140 out of the Fortune 500 having accounts, ten more than last year. The Domo study observes:

While LinkedIn remains the most popular network for CEOs, most don't seem to be actively growing their network. There isn't a lot of middle ground. CEOs either open a LinkedIn account and abandon it, or else they put both feet in and utilize the social network's many advantages.

The number of CEOs on Facebook is down year on year at 7.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs, although Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is keeping his end up of course with 16,742,363 followers.

But the Domo report concludes:

CEOs aren’t leaving Facebook in droves, but we can safely say their use of the largest social network in the world is fairly stagnant.

And it probably goes without saying that Google+ has hardly any users among CEOs: just five out of the top 500. The report states bluntly:

No sugar-coating this one: CEO presence on Google Plus is pathetic in just about every sense of the word.

Faking it

One other amusing point to note: how many fakers there are out there among the CEO community.

When the study was conducted, Fortune 500 CEOs on Twitter had a combined total of 2,126,564 followers.

But the Domo analysis concludes that on average 13% of those are fakes. For example, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer can apparently dismiss 18% of her followers as fakers.

Domo's James describes the findings as a mixed bag:

What’s most telling to me is that LinkedIn and Twitter have clearly emerged as the top social channels for business leaders, while usage on Facebook—the longtime heavyweight of social—is actually on the decline among Fortune 500 CEOs.

James says there's an obvious explanation for this:

I believe it’s simple: Business leaders want information that’s quick, succinct and easily digestible. I hear this from our customers at Domo all the time. Executives, particularly CEOs, are getting tired of being slammed with tidal waves of information. They want it simple, clean and concise.

But overall, he concludes:

Fortune 500 CEOs still have a long way to go when it comes to social media, but it appears CEOs are slowly paying attention and no longer satisfied with sitting on the sidelines.

That's a more upbeat conclusion than the actual study report which bluntly states:

Whatever the reasons 68% of Fortune 500 CEOs have for not utilizing social media, they are doing the company a massive disservice. Top executives who continue to sit on the sidelines are missing out on greater rewards of customer loyalty and engagement.


Splendidly mischievous on the whole and rather anarchic in some respects as it highlights the gap between the politically correct messaging around the importance of  social and the absence of 'dog food eating' on the part of their CEOs.

Mind you, I'm not entirely convinced by the idea that somehow this means they're not servicing their customers to the max. Most CEOs I'd imagine would counter that running the company is rather more important than tweeting their every move.

But interesting stuff nonetheless.

Graphics: Domo/

A grey colored placeholder image