Back in 2009 the numbers were very small. Only two used Twitter or Facebook. Two years later and things have improved dramatically, well at least in percentage terms. Based on our latest research, just four Fortune 100 CEOs have Twitter feeds and while the total number of Facebook users approaches 700 million, just nine Fortune 100 CEOs make some use of Facebook accounts. The four using Twitter are:
Warren Buffett – Berhsire Hathaway – @WEBuffett
Michael Dell – Dell Computer – @michaeldell
Brian Dunn – Best Buy – @BBYCEO
Craig Herkert – Supervalu – @herkc
When it companies to the companies themselves it is a very different story. All but 19 of the Fortune 100 companies have Twitter feeds and almost all the CMOs do. What is interesting is that Apple has no Twitter feed, nor does its CEO while CMO was recently lauded for his use of Twitter. Jobs also has no presence on Facebook. The absence of top CEOs on Twitter may seem surprising to some. These CEOs would likely all attract large followings and could use their accounts to add to the company’s personality through their tweets or Facebook updates. The challenge seems to be one of time and priorities for many. What several rightly want to avoid is have a ghosted twitter account. If they are going to tweet they want to be the ones doing it. Ghost tweets (tweets written by someone in their team on their behalf) lack authenticity and may in some cases give the impression they have too much time on their hands – not something investors would like to think.
So while I think the number of CEOs who tweet is bound to rise, especially as younger CEOs take over from today’s generation, I suspect it will be a long time before even half the top CEOs are tweeting. Twitter, Groupon, Zynga and several other companies will likely have gone public by the time we get to anything approaching a high percentage. Until then, you can continue to follow the fake Steve Jobs tweets like the one shown above. Who knows, their tweets may prove more interesting, even if they’re not very accurate.
It would be easy to view the low CEO numbers as a sign that all is not well in social marketing. Quite the contrary. Indeed it’s great to see the number of businesses that have embraced Facebook and Twitter at other levels. These social networks are now used to engage with a host of different stakeholders from customer, though investors to analysts. Indeed the level to which brands are now engaging online communities is staggering and goes a long way to explain why traditional forms of media are fighting for survival. So while Fortune 100 CEOs may be taking things very slowly, the businesses they oversee are most definitely not.