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Fortune 500 CEOs gradually using social media, but most still can’t be bothered

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As social media increasingly becomes a dominant force in marketing for nearly any type of business, there is, surprisingly, a small group of Fortune 500 CEOs who, according to a study by Domo and CEO.com, are still underutilizing social media. However, when compared to previous years, there is a small uptick, with new brands to the elite list and younger CEOs leading the way to increasing engagement on certain social networking platforms.

While there are users such as CEO Jack Salzwedel of American Family Insurance, who consider social media integral to their leadership, the majority of CEOs are still avoiding social media altogether. “Some CEOs say they’re too busy for social media. I say, it’s part of the job,” Salzwedel told Domo and CEO.com. In fact, according to CEO.com’s study, 61 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence at all. While this is a slight improvement over last year’s 68 percent, it still encompasses a large part of the business world that has simply chosen to opt out of networking online. Of the 39 percent of the CEOs who were active on social media, 70 percent were only active on one network, and as of 2015 data, not one single Fortune 500 CEO was active on all six major social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and YouTube.

Further, of the Fortune 500 CEOs, the 70 percent who were active on just one social network joined LinkedIn first and 41 percent were featured on their companies’ YouTube channels, indicating that there might be more interest if the platform is strictly limited to business purposes.

Younger generation of CEOs tend to be more active on a social media platform, as well as new CEOs of existing companies and companies that are new to the Fortune 500 list; these CEOs are the ones contributing to the slight increases in social media engagement. Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, Expedia’s Dara Khosrowshahi, and Harley-Davidson’s Matthew Levatich are among the CEOs who are leading the way in how corporate leaders are engaging with customers on social media, and showing the human side of big business.

Despite big business’ use of Twitter for customer service, Fortune 500 CEOs find little time to tweet. According to CEO.com, of the 50 Fortune 500 CEOs on Twitter, 16 have tweeted less than 25 times during their entire time on the network. This includes those that with enormous numbers of followers such as IBM’s Virginia Rometty and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, who currently has more than one million followers. Instagram and Google+ are even more underutilized than Twitter.

Some reasons that Fortune 500 CEOs might avoid social media, according to the research, could be that they are simply too busy, plus it’s difficult to recognize the benefits. Further, there are a large number of CEOs and businesspeople in general who just haven’t received any sort of coaching or training on the best ways to use social media.

And while video as a whole has increasingly become the preferred feature on social media platforms among users of all professions, ages, and backgrounds, it is growing faster than any other social medium among CEOs. This could indicate even more growth online among Fortune 500 CEOs in the near future.

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Christina Majaski
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Christina has written for print and online publications since 2003. In her spare time, she wastes an exorbitant amount of…
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