Top CEOs desert 'risky' Twitter

Fewer of the top global CEOs are using Twitter than two years ago to enhance their personal and their business’ reputation as they see it a riskier option than other social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube, according to a report.


Just 2 per cent of CEOs from the top 50 companies listed in Fortune Magazine’s 2012 Global 500 rankings have a visible presence on Twitter, compared with 8 per cent in 2010, according to an audit by Weber Shandwick.

The PR firm suggests some CEOs have ditched Twitter after witnessing their comments and those from other leaders being criticised and being shared on a mass scale online and in the media. This is a phenomenon experienced by global leaders such as News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch when he tweeted about anti-hacking campaigners and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch when he criticised President Obama’s unemployment statistics during his campaign.

Additionally, Weber Shandwick says CEOs feel less comfortable with communicating in 140 characters than other platforms which allow more room for explanation.

Elsewhere, CEO use of other social media platforms increased from 16 per cent two years ago to 18 per cent in 2012. Facebook use increased from 4 per cent to 10 per cent, LinkedIn up two percentage points to 6 per cent and 2 per cent of the top CEOs have a Google+ page.

Business leaders who do not have an active presence on social media risk their personal brands being hijacked, with the audit finding that approximately one third of top CEOs had their names attached to fake accounts.

James Warren, chief creative officer of Weber Shandwick’s digital practice, says it is “imperative” CEOs are visible across social media.

He adds: “It is essential for brands to fully engage in today’s global social world, where real-time consumer and influencer online conversations can lead to the corporate reputation of the world’s biggest brands diminishing in the blink of an eye. Every day we see first-hand that the ability of brands to not only maximise the opportunities made available by social media, but to respond immediately and effectively to reputational threats will be a key differentiator in today’s environment.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • In my opinion, it comes down to expectations set. I would say those CEOs who've had their 'fingers burned' probably didn't fully appreciate what they were getting themselves into before opening themselves up to the channel. The key point here is, just because you're not on Twitter, doesn't mean people aren't going to talk about you on Twitter. If you've got no online presence you have no voice to engage and/or defend your position. There are some good CEOs on Twitter (such as Marc Benioff of Salesforce) who have set the expectations correctly by mirroring their online persona to their offline one.

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  • CEOs of large organizations have "handlers." A lot of them. I admire those CEOs smart enough and ballsy enough to realize there are some things handlers can't, and shouldn't, do for them.

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