64 Percent of the World’s Largest Company CEOs are Not Social Online, According to New Weber Shandwick Study

Social CEOs Have Higher Reputational Status, Use Multi-Channels, Are More U.S.-Based and Are Longer-Tenured

PR Newswire — October 12, 2010

NEW YORK, Oct. 12 /PRNewswire/ — In a new study released today, global public relations firm Weber Shandwick found that the majority of CEOs from the world’s largest companies–64 percent–are not social, that is, they are not engaging online with external stakeholders. “Socializing Your CEO: From(Un)Social to Social” examines the publicly visible communications activities of CEOs in the world’s top 50 companies.

“Strong evidence exists that CEOs are not silent in these turbulent times. They are extensively quoted in the business press, frequently deliver keynote speeches at conferences and participate in business school forums. But when it comes to digital engagement externally, CEOs are not yet fully socialized, often with good reason,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick’s chief reputation strategist and online reputation expert. “As we continue to track the rise of the Social CEO and chief executives become more comfortable with the new media, we expect that this will change and change fast.”

Limited Pool of Social CEOs

Over nine out of 10 CEOs in the world’s top 50 companies (93 percent) communicated externally in traditional fashion: 93 percent were quoted in the major global news and business publications and 40 percent participated in speaking engagements to an external, non-investor, audience.

Online communications did not fare as well among this executive set. Most CEO online visibility is limited to what is said about them on Wikipedia, the web-based collaborative encyclopedia which CEOs and their communications teams are not responsible for. Removing Wikipedia leaves the online CEO space rather barren–only 36 percent are engaged through their company websites or in social media channels in any way (e.g., CEO messages on company websites, video/podcasts on company websites or company YouTube channels, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, company-affiliated blogs).

Who Is a Social CEO?

The research identified the following characteristics of Social CEOs:

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