by Matt Kapko

Most Fortune 500 CEOs still sit on social media sidelines

Jan 19, 2016
IT LeadershipSocial Networking Apps

Only 39 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs use social media today, according to a new report, and 70 percent of those who do participate use just one network.

Despite all the time and energy many companies spend on social media today, the majority of Fortune 500 CEOs ignore the medium entirely. In fact, only 39 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are active on one or more of the six major social networks, according to a new study from Domo, a business management software provider. 

Domo checked Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube to see if the CEOs of all of the Fortune 500 companies had social accounts. One Fortune 500 company, Bed Bath & Beyond, has co-CEOs, so Domo‘s study includes data on 501 chief executives.

domo social ceos Domo

The number of elite execs who actively participate on the six leading social networks increased by just 9 percent since Domo first started studying the social media use of Fortune 500 CEOs four years ago. The latest study found that 61 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are not active on any of the major platforms today, while 70 percent were absent in 2012. 

CEOs who are active on social media are also more likely to focus on one platform, according to Domo. None of the Fortune 500 CEOs surveyed by Domo are active on all six networks, and 70 percent of those who do use social media engage on just one network, the study found. 

More Fortune 500 CEOs on Twitter, but fewer actual tweets

Significant disparities exist in how often Fortune 500 CEOs use social sites. Of the 50 CEOs on Twitter, 16 tweeted less than 25 times total since they started using the service, according to Domo. And while the number of CEOs who created personal Twitter accounts jumped 16 percent during the last year, overall activity declined, which means the CEOs ‘”tweeted” less frequently. 

Only 62 percent of the CEOs on Twitter tweeted within the last 100 days, and that’s down 5 percent from last year, according to Domo. Roughly half of the CEOs tweet once a month or less, and on average the most active CEOs tweet about once every five days, Domo says. Last year, active CEOs tweeted every other day on average.

[Related Research: Most CEOs still don’t get social media]

However, activity isn’t always a bellwether for social media success. Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett tweeted only seven times since he joined Twitter in April 2013, for example, but his first tweet is still the most “retweeted” message from any Fortune 500 CEO to date, Domo says.

Apple CEO Tim Cook saw the most rapid growth of followers on Twitter last year, and an average of 2,219 new people followed him each day, according to Domo. Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman lost the most Twitter followers in 2015 (878 people).

LinkedIn the network of choice for Fortune 500 CEOs 

LinkedIn remains the social media “entry network” of choice among Fortune 500 CEOs, and the number of these chief executives on the professional network increased by 7 percent to 161 in 2015, according to Domo. The research also found that LinkedIn is the most popular social network for the 70 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs who use just one social platform.

domo ceos linkedin Domo

Facebook is less popular, and many of the CEOs who do use it keep their activity private. Of the 57 CEOs with Facebook accounts, 49 of them use private or semi-private accounts, according to Domo.

Domo largely attributes the small increase in social media use among Fortune 500 CEOs to newly hired executives who were already active on social before they joined their companies, as well as active CEOs of companies that recently made the Fortune 500. 

Domo searched for Fortune 500 CEOs’ social media accounts in late 2015. After it verified the authenticity of the social profiles using a number of different, and somewhat unscientific methods, using details that were publicly available on via each service, the company pulled data points for its annual report, which will be used to advise its CEO clients on how to effectively use social media to advance their businesses.