— A new survey from says that less than a third of the chief executive officers at America’s 500 highest-grossing companies use social media. The study aggregated data after searching for the top CEOs on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and Facebook between May 6 and May 20, 2013.


Image credit: Cassandra Chin

The news, however, isn’t surprising to Arend Kersten, CEO for Flamborough’s Chamber of Commerce.

“I can’t say I’m surprised by the survey results,” he said. “Typically, if you’re a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you are at the pinnacle of your career. At those levels, CEOs typically have huge staff (that) look after the social media requirements of the company.”

Part of the resistance is that CEOs value their privacy and time. “There’s a cost attached to that in terms of lost … privacy,” said Kersten. “However, smart CEOs do understand the changing world with regards to social media and marketing but they have armies of underlings that will do that for them.”

The study noted only 32 percent of top CEOs have at least one account on a social network, while around 68 percent have no social presence at all.

According to the study, most CEOs are active on LinkedIn, with 27.9 percent (140 CEOs) with LinkedIn accounts. Facebook interactions amongst CEOs is at 7.6 percent, down from a year ago.

Twitter is much less used by CEOs, with just 5.6 percent (28 CEOs) with an account and only 19 considered “active.” An account is considered active when they have tweeted in the 100 days prior to the study, with around one tweet per day. Eighteen percent of adults in the U.S. use Twitter.  Only 5 CEOs use Google+.

Peter Aceto, CEO of ING Direct Canada, is an avid Tweeter and also participates on behalf of the company on Facebook. Whether or not CEOs are engaged, however, is a totally different matter.

“What’s changed over the last few years is how people have acknowledged how essential social media is to a business,” said Aceto. “When it comes to personal behavior and personal time, a lot of CEOs aren’t prepared to take the jump at this time.”

Each social media outlet has its own unique culture. And this is something companies need to keep in mind. For ING Direct, it all depends on the types of engagement they want to have with customers and the community.

“When there are conversations occurring on its Facebook page, I’ll show up and weigh in there and I’m sharing with customers and potential customers daily,” Aceto added. “What you can communicate and do on Twitter is different than what you can do on Facebook, so the dialogue is very different.”

Nevertheless, the study did note some of the CEOs who do have Twitter accounts have “fake” followers, with some profiles also proving to be fictional.

More importantly, the strengths of social media, especially the reach of Twitter, is something all CEOs should take note of.

Social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, are vital to businesses, and companies cannot afford to disregard its importance.

“(Social media) is an absolutely essential and crucial part of any business and it has to be a part of anyone’s business — someone who doesn’t engage with social media won’t be in that position for long,” concluded Kersten.

Based in Canada, Cassandra Chin has worked as a reporter, covering big cities like Calgary and Toronto, and small towns such as Grand Forks and Christina Lake, B.C. She has written about the International Women’s Nations Cup and Rugby Canada. She is currently a business reporter for YourHamiltonBiz, a contributor here at, and can be reached at