Having a CEO with an active presence on social media can be beneficial for the organization for several reasons.
For one thing, it seems employees like it. According to research from Brunswick Group, 63% agree they would prefer to work for a company where the CEO uses digital and social media. Only 12% disagree.
And for another, the business community seems to like it too. That same study reveals that 74% of people who read financial publications would trust a “connected leader” more than one who doesn’t use social media as part of their work.
So it’s no surprise that an increasing number of business leaders are active on social. Between August 2019 and August 2020, the number of CEOs present on at least one platform rose from 54% to 62%, per research from Influential Executive.
Of course, just because they’re using social media, that doesn’t mean they’re good at it. A lot of CEO accounts are, frankly, missing the mark.
But there are also plenty of good examples of CEOs using social media. Whether you’re looking for some great new content to add to your feed or maybe some inspiration for your own CEO’s channels, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the greats you should consider following.
1. Kimberly Bryant
Sooo…when I go on my little soapbox about this thing called a “tech pipeline”? This pic is what I mean. Almost 100 little Black/brown girls (in Oakland) doing robotics the Sat before Christmas. pic.twitter.com/408m1BqHmM
— Kimberly Bryant (@6Gems) December 16, 2017
Kimberley Bryant is the CEO of Black Girls CODE, a not-for-profit organization focused on providing technology education for young women of color.
Her Twitter presence is packed full of personal thoughts and political views, along with stories about the challenges and successes she experienced as a non-profit CEO.
By maintaining an open dialog on the practicalities and pitfalls of life as a woman of color in a tech leadership role, Bryant aims to inspire others from minority roles to follow in her footsteps.
Not just that, but she’s also genuinely engaging and funny, which means you can easily forgive her for slipping in the occasional promotional tweet.
2. Danielle Morrill
What is a skill you’ve paid to learn online (via something like Masterclass) that you found super rewarding?
— Danielle Morrill ✨ (@DanielleMorrill) October 12, 2021
Admittedly, Danielle Morrill isn’t technically a current CEO –– right now, she’s CTO and co-founder of FirstParty, which does marketing automation for developers.
However, she deserves a spot on this list because she has recent experience as CEO of firmographic data platform Mattermark, where she was also a co-founder.
Particularly on Twitter and to a lesser extent on LinkedIn, Morrill speaks at length about the challenges of securing venture capital funding to bring a new tech product to market.
She’s sincere, engaging, and well worth following for anyone from a startup background, not just those in the tech world.
3. Brian Scudamore
Brian Scudamore is the Founder and CEO of O2E Brands, the company behind home service brands like 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
He was recognized as “Best Leader on Facebook” at the 2020 CSuite Digital Leadership Awards, but his social presence extends beyond the Mark Zuckerberg-owned platform. As you can see from the links above, he’s everywhere.
Wherever he posts, Scudamore’s social presence is universally upbeat, offering personal insights, strategies, and motivational messages that have played a part in his business success.
4. Aaron Levie
Startup reminder: disruption isn’t about doing something that’s just “different” from the incumbent. It happens by enabling a service in a vastly less expensive, faster, broader, or fundamentally better way (for users) than an incumbent can.
— Aaron Levie (@levie) October 10, 2021
Aaron Levie is CEO of Box, a cloud content management and file-sharing platform.
Box is a pretty big deal, but it’s nowhere near the leagues of massive brands like Dropbox or Spotify. Yet Levie has amassed 2.4 million Twitter followers –– 30 times more than his company! For reference, Daniel Ek (CEO and founder of Spotify) has “only” 223,000 at the time we write this blog.
So how has Levie gotten so huge?
Many people likely follow him on Twitter because he generally seems pretty chill and tweets a lot of good, worthy takes about politics and social justice.
But he also offers up the occasional pearl of wisdom on the challenges of building and marketing a startup, which makes him a good source of knowledge too.
5. Doug Conant
Leaders must honor these 3 “time zones”:
The Past — A leader must learn from and honor the past.
The Present — A leader must meet the expectations of the present in a quality way.
The Future — A leader must create a clear and tangible path for a more prosperous future.
— Doug Conant (@DougConant) October 11, 2018
Doug Conant is a veteran businessman who was president and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company until 2011.
Since then, he’s transitioned into the realm of leadership training and is now founder and CEO of ConantLeadership.
Conant is a prolific blogger and tweeter about all things leadership-related. He’s been there and done it, which has helped him build up a substantial following on both LinkedIn and Twitter.
6. Mary Barra
Mary Barra has been chair and CEO of General Motors since the start of 2014, making her the first female chief exec of a so-called “Big Three” car manufacturer.
The business world she inhabits is decidedly corporate –– after all, General Motors is one of the world’s biggest and most recognizable businesses.
So it’s no surprise that she maintains a solid professional feel across her social platforms. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it feels like a breath of fresh air in a world of Elon wannabes.
However, “professional” isn’t a synonym for “bland” or “dispassionate.” Barra regularly speaks to issues important to her and GM, such as sustainability and increasing the proliferation of women and minorities in leadership roles.
7. Whitney Wolfe Herd
Today, I’ll testify virtually on @Bumble’s behalf in front of the California Senate in support of SB53, which will create a deterrent against unsolicited lewd images. I’m grateful to @SenatorLeyva for authoring this bill, which will signal that this harassment won’t be tolerated.
— Whitney Wolfe Herd (@WhitWolfeHerd) April 27, 2021
Whitney Wolfe Herd is the founder and CEO of the dating app Bumble and the former VP of marketing at Tinder.
More often than not, Wolfe Herd uses her social platforms (particularly Twitter) for campaigning and promoting social justice-related issues. For instance, she’s a big advocate of laws to create a deterrent against unsolicited lewd images.
8. Strive Masiyiwa
Strive Masiyiwa is a Zimbabwean businessman and philanthropist who founded the telecommunications firm Econet Global.
Again, telecoms is a highly corporate world. So it’s something of a surprise that Masiyiwa’s only public platform (that we could find) is Facebook on social media.
Masiyiwa effectively uses Facebook as a blogging platform, with his posts routinely clocking in at 300+ words. They’re typically motivational, drawing on experiences and learnings from his career.
Whatever he’s doing, it works because he’s racked up 5.8 million followers.
9. Jaclyn Johnson
View this post on Instagram
Jaclyn Johnson is an entrepreneur and CEO who founded and sold her first business by 28.
Today, she heads up her second multimillion-dollar company, Create & Cultivate –– described by Forbes as “a modern media company for women.”
Rather than focusing on her LinkedIn or Twitter profiles, we’re going to take a look at Johnson’s Instagram presence. Simply put, it looks a lot like most people’s Instagrams –– full of photos of food, memes, quotes, and pictures of herself, her friends, and family.
Where it stands out is in the way Johnson uses the platform to communicate with her audience constantly:
It’s a great example of how social media is precisely that –– social.
Using Instagram to drive genuine two-way conversations can be a lot more impactful than just posting and logging off.
10. Christian Klein
Around the world, lockdowns have led to increased stress, anxiety, and depression. Now more than ever, leading with empathy is key. #WorldMentalHealthDay pic.twitter.com/JKw9JMpA1m
— Christian Klein (@ChrstnKlein) October 10, 2021
Christian Klein is CEO of global software giant SAP.
He was named fourth place on social media agency Flagship Social’s 2020 ranking of the Top 50 Executives on Social Media, which evaluates a range of factors, including content quality and relevance, posting frequency, and engagement rate.
One of the more corporate profiles on this list, Klein predominantly uses LinkedIn and Twitter to further SAP’s broader marketing efforts, including key themes like sustainability and mental health.
11. Larry Kim
Larry Kim is the CEO of MobileMonkey and founder of WordStream, and a high-profile thought leader in the marketing space.
He’s another CEO with an extensive presence across multiple platforms –– and he uses each of those platforms to post a constant stream of advice, statistics, graphs, and videos.
While he does marketing, Kim’s content has more general relevance across the business and tech worlds. Follow him for long enough, and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll learn something interesting!
12. Minnie Rahman
I am so excited about our new campaign Work It Out @JCWI_UK
✅Make it legal for everyone to work regardless of status
✅Make sure everyone can report exploitative conditions
✅Make sure everyone has access to the public safety net#WorkItOuthttps://t.co/ESyJbFJwG3
— Minnie Rahman (@minnierahman) December 4, 2020
Minnie Rahman is interim CEO of UK charity the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, fighting for justice for migrants since 1967.
Despite being interim CEO, she was named Best Rising Star on Social Media for 2020 by Social CEOs.
Rahman tweets extensively about issues related to her organization, but she also gets involved in a wide range of other social justice conversations and campaigns.
And she does it all while maintaining an authentic online presence.
As you can see from the varied backgrounds, tones, organizations, and platforms of the thought leaders we’ve featured here, there’s no one secret sauce to making social work as a CEO.
Perhaps the most significant overall takeaway is the importance of authenticity. It’s the best way to enable customers and followers to feel connected to the human person behind your brand.
Who are your favorite CEOs to follow on social media?
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