After months of silence, last week one of corporate America’s bigger mucky-mucks, Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein, virtually dusted off his Twitter account and tweeted for the first time in response to President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.
He wrote: “Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world. #ParisAgreement.”
While many denizens of social media expressed surprise that an arch-capitalist such as Blankfein would argue for the reality of climate change, his first-ever tweet also highlighted another somewhat surprising fact. Most of the country’s top CEOs aren’t active on social media — they don’t even have social-media accounts (dormant or otherwise).
That’s according to a new survey of Fortune 500 CEOs conducted by CEO.com and Domo. Just 40% of the study group were active on at least one of the big social media platforms in 2016, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+.
Further, just 69 out the top execs, or 14% of the total, were active on more than one social platform, while 15 or 3% are active on two or more.
These numbers are basically unchanged over the last year, CEO.com and Domo noted, and in some cases, they’re actually in retrea.
For example, the number of Fortune 500 CEOs with a Facebook page declined from 57 in 2015 to 40 in 2016, partly reflecting turnover in some of the top spots. And the majority of these weren’t active on Facebook at all toward the end of last year. Similarly, just 36 CEOs have Twitter accounts.
Even a seemingly obvious choice like LinkedIn has seen lackluster engagement by the bigwigs, as the proportion of top bosses with a profile on the professional social network edged up 3% from 2015 to 35% in 2016.
Many CEOs are likely deterred from using social media by the prospect of legal liability or public relations foul-ups, although committed social-media teams could help lessen these risks. Indeed, events of the last few months have highlighted the perils both of social media missteps — and the dangers of ignoring social media.
In April, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz was roundly roasted on social media for issuing tone-deaf apologies concerning the forcible “re-accommodation” of a passenger, creating a PR disaster that only grew worse, due to United’s sluggish response on social.
Similarly, British Airways CEO Alex Cruz was criticized during a recent global IT outage for a video apology on YouTube which many social-media users judged insufficient and insincere.