Kathy Bloomgarden
Kathy Bloomgarden

Engaging with social media may well be one of the keys to success as a CEO, according to a report out today from Ruder Finn.

“The Social CEO” analyzes the social media presence of 100 CEOs from across 13 industries, including such heavyweight tech firms as Facebook, Google and IBM; pharma companies like Merck and Amgen; consumer goods companies and financial firms. It then split that group up into “high-performing” CEOs and “low-performing” CEOs (those whose companies had below-average stock price growth against the S&P 500 Index).

The study found that high performers have a weightier social media presence than their lower-producing peers. 50 percent of the high-performing CEOs surveyed have two or more social media accounts. That number drops to 28 percent for the low performers. The high performers also have significantly more social media followers, averaging 400,566 followers over all their accounts and 244,190 followers per account. Those figures were much lower for the low performers, at 55,355 overall and 37,605 per account.

Ruder Finn report

It also matters how open CEOs are on the social platforms they use, the study says. More high performers (20.72 percent) address personal topics on social media than do the lower performers (14.12 percent). The high performers are also more likely to share industry news. But they are less likely to post on such topics as current events, politics and progressive topics.

The study doesn’t only pit high performers against low performers. When the numbers are broken down by company sector, it becomes evident that some industries are far more social-savvy than others. Not surprisingly, tech companies lead the way, with 91 percent of tech CEOs in the survey reporting that they had a social media presence. For the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) sector that figure falls to 60 percent, with pharma coming in at 56 percent and financial services at 33 percent.

The main point reached by “The Social CEO,” however, is that tapping the power of social media has a strong relationship to a company’s success. “CEOs must find ways to leverage the power of social media as a means to bring their story to life and connect with customers, investors and other audiences,” said Ruder Finn CEO Kathy Bloomgarden. “To be competitive, CEOs need to find their ‘voice’ on social media.”