1. Only 4.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Women tend to be more comfortable with the use of social media. Of that 4.2% female CEOs, the ones using social media stand out. Meg Whitman of HP and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! are prime examples. A recent ranking of the top CEOs on social media finds only four women out of 30 execs, but they are impressive – Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, Angela Ahrendts of Burberry, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and Harriet Green of Thomas Cook.
2. Resistance to change could be a reason. The age of CEOs and their comfort with social media may affect their participation, and their own self-imposed importance might hinder their launch into social media. But here are two examples of brave CEO types that are over 50. Warren Buffett joined Twitter in May of this year and currently has 545,554 followers. Of course Warren has only tweeted twice but the second one was about his new essay on the importance of women to America’s prosperity.
Way to go Warren! The other new social media leader is THE POPE. @Pontifex has 2,827,155 followers. I loved his post today:
We are all jars of clay, fragile and poor, yet we carry within us an immense treasure.
3. CEOs may underestimate the power of their voice online. Fortune 500 CEOs gain followers almost 20 times faster than average users. Some CEOs have almost rockstar influence when they choose to participate. Those not participating are missing out on the opportunity to model engagement, transparency and passion for their employees and their customers. Even those who have a presence on social media may not really be using it. Only 3.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs are actively using Twitter. But it seems that LinkedIn holds some fascination for CEOs; I call it the Facebook for business. There are currently 140 (27.9%) Fortune 500 CEOs on LinkedIn, compared to 129 (25.9%) last year. One of the features of LinkedIn that might be a draw for CEOs is the “Influencer” program that allows CEOs to be seen as an expert. I am sure we will continue to see CEO participation in social media grow as digital natives move into the ranks, but those currently not using it might want to rethink their position.