The Social CEO Part One: Most CEOs Are Not Social

I gave a speech at Forrester's Marketing Forum last week in Los Angeles on "The Social CEO" -- why and how CEOs could use social. My talk answered four questions: 1) How many CEOs are social now? 2) Why are current CEOs not social? 3) Should CEOs be social? and 4) How can the CEO become social? I will answer these questions in four posts, starting with the first:

How many CEOs are social now?

Very few, at least in the pantheon of large companies. Here's the research:

1) None of the CEOs of Fortune Magazine's top 100 global corporations have a social profile. We found six defunct Twitter accounts, and one Japanese-language blog. We could discover no obvious presence for any of the 100 CEOs on Facebook or LinkedIn.

2) The CEOs of the tech companies had negligible social presences. Eric Schmidt of Google is an infrequent Twitterer and is not a blogger; Steve Ballmer at Microsoft has no blog and no Twitter account; Michael Dell is on Twitter but is not an external blogger; Mark Hurd of HP, Sam Palmisano at IBM, Steve Jobs of Apple, and Larry Ellison of Oracle have no Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or blog presences that we could find.

3) How about the CEOs of the social companies? Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is active on his platform but doesn't blog and infrequently visits Twitter. Evan Williams of Twitter Tweets several times per day and blogs, but hasn't posted in 2010. Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn uses Twitter several times per week and posts to the LinkedIn corporate blog. Mike Jones, co-CEO of MySpace is on Twitter several times per week and has a blog (though no posts this year). 

Even President Obama, who appears to post to Twitter several times per day, isn't truly social.

Now admittedly I am sampling a small universe of CEOs (the largest and the most techie). And there are some very good CEO blogs -- two of my favorites are Michael Hyatt's (the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers), and Bill Marriott's (CEO of Marriott). 

But after analyzing and searching, we have concluded that most CEOs are not using social tools.

Tune in to my next post when we answer the question: "Why?"

In the meantime, let me know of any CEOs who you think effectively use social -- I'm sure I've missed some good ones.


Social CEOs - Tony Hsieh at Zappo's

Tony Hsieh, CEO at Zappo's, blogs, although his last blog post was April 7.
He has an active Twitter presence as well.

David Kirchhoff, social CEO of Weight Watchers Int'l

One of the most visibly social CEOs I've encountered is David Kirchhoff, who blogs about his personal weight loss journey on How appropriate that Weight Watchers -- an organization built on the power of community and support -- is run by a guy who speaks openly of the challenges he shares with his customers. Puts a "human face" on his large and successful corporate entity.

Top CEO blogs

Jonathan Schwartz (President & CEO, Sun Microsystems)

Craig Newmark (CEO, Craig’s List)

Mark Cuban (Owner, Dallas Mavericks)

Ross Mayfield (CEO, Socialtext)

Matt Blumberg (CEO, Return Path)

Alan Meckler (CEO, Jupiter Media)

Jason Calacanis (CEO, Weblogs)

John Dragoon (CMO, Novell)

Philip Blumberg, founder and CEO, American Ventures -

Mike Critelli, Executive Chairman, Pitney Bowes, Inc., "Open Mike" -

Jim James, Director, EASTWEST PR (Singapore and China), "A Nice Little Business in China" -

LAI Kok Fung, CEO, BuzzCity? Pte Ltd -

Colin Byrne, CEO, Weber Shandwick UK -

John Scherer, CEO & Founder, Video Professor -

David Armano, Creative VP, Digitas -

Greg Verdino, VP/Emerging Channels, Digitas -

Sab Kanaujia, VP, NBC Digital Media group -

CEO Social

A suggestion for the 'social CEO' thread. Could it simply be that they are suffering from infoglut? A CEO client of mine gets 250 emails per day on average and I bet some get a lot more. Do we really think they could run an online dialogue with customers, analysts, journalists, competitors and and and? These people are not technophobes in spite of their demographic profile (which I share, by the way). They are savvy. But they are not convinced that blogging or social networking will put bread in the basket. In short, the effort-to-benefit ratio of social networking is not running in their favour, so they eschew social. It looks to me like an eminently rational choice.
John Leigh

Social CEOs -- me?

Hi George,

I run a Sequoia-backed enterprise software company, mid-stage, about 200 people and have embraced social media as a guerilla marketing mechanism. I agree it's easier to be social as a private company, but also agree that (as a former officer of a public company) "the rules" apply equally to all media.

Anyway, you might check out my blog at or my tweetstream at and let me know how you think I'm doing.

I like your blog...

Hey Dave. I really like what you are doing. Your personality is coming through, you are taking controversial and interesting stands, and you are giving your customers and employees a good taste of your thinking. The length of your posts may be a little long, but they kept my attention.

I would recommend that others check out Dave's's good stuff.


Why Executives HATE Social Media


I love your article and love the research you did as well. We shared an article last week with the market with tremendous feedback thus far. I would absolutely love your feedback as I think it pertains to why the leading executives are not engaged, at least the traditional Exec's.

The article title is Why Executives HATE Social Media

Here is the link:

thanks again for this insight.

Nate Kievman

You are SO rocking my world with this!

This morning I was doing a google search on "Social CEO" and came across this timely article. I LOVE what you're saying here! Companies can no longer afford to hide behind their corporate communications department or hope their great product is ENOUGH. Now is the time to Socialize -- from the CEO to the mail room. Genius!