Complete Guide To Social Media For CEOs

The days of living in an executive bubble are over.

Social media has become the currency of the times, and even business leaders ignore it at their own peril. From GM’s Mary Barra to Christian Kline of global software giant SAP to Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe Herd, CEOs are doin’ it for themselves on social media.

What does social media for CEOs look like? In this post we’ll cover the importance and benefits of social media for leaders, effective strategies for using it, and how to overcome challenges and risks.

Importance of Social Media for CEOs

According to McKinsey, companies that continue to adopt social technologies can add $1.3 trillion in value to their brand in the next few years. Engaging on social media helps businesses generate brand loyalty and bottom-line growth through connection to consumers.

Business leaders have heard the call. According to, as of August 2022, 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs had a profile on at least one social media platform. That’s a 13% increase since 2020.

The company CEO is the person behind the brand. Consumers know this, and expect engagement, as do other stakeholders in the company, whether it’s the board, other employees, other execs, or vendors.

Benefits of CEO Social Media Presence

Social media provides a controllable way to define your personal brand—your values, your USP, and your reputation. Through defining and building a brand, a CEO can establish trust and credibility with their audience. Business leaders who speak with authenticity on social media attract attention and followers. Social media also humanizes the CEO and, by association, the company.

By using social media in some of the ways outlined in this blog post, a CEO can also establish themselves as an expert in their industry. When a CEO is perceived as a thought leader, this perception improves the company or business by growing its profile, attracting more followers and/or consumers, and generating more earned media opportunities.

A leader who is outspoken on social media becomes a brand ambassador, inspiring other employees to do the same. According to a 2021 study by Brunswick Group, 63% of employees said that they would prefer to work for a company where the CEO uses digital and social media. Only 12% disagreed.

In addition, being active on social media breaks down barriers between the C-suite and employees. People often turn to a CEO’s socials for news about their organization, culture, values, and people, as well as where the company stands on issues of the day. By sharing this and other information, CEOs connect with staff and other stakeholders. This boosts employee morale and provides potential employees insight the brand.

Stakeholders who see a leader active on social media see someone who is not only actively engaged in running the company but also enhancing its reputation.

Other benefits of CEOs maintaining a social media presence include:

  • building meaningful relationships
  • retaining and attracting top talent
  • keeping a finger on the pulse of the brand and the industry that it’s part of
  • demonstrating to stakeholders that you are keeping abreast of industry developments.

Effective Strategies for CEO Social Media Usage

Now that we’ve covered the nuts-and-bolts of why a business leader should be posting on Instagram, Facebook, or even TikTok, let’s get to the fun stuff—platform selection, content creation, challenges and risks, and measuring success.

Whitney Wolfe Herd CEO of Bumble.

A. Platform Selection

Of prime importance when strategizing social media is identifying the right platforms. CEOs should post on the channels where research has shown their target audience spends their time and energy.

Identifying the proper channels will also guide you to the kinds of content to post. From LinkedIn to Instagram to Twitter/X, each social channel has its own sweet spot when it comes to content, timing, and engagement. If you don’t know, study—and if you don’t have time to research, hire an executive thought leadership PR firm to help.

B. Content Creation

As any influencer will tell you, content creation is its own kettle of fish. As a CEO, some rules of thumb for posting on social media include:

  • be authentic and transparent
  • tell stories to illustrate you point
  • engage with people who give you feedback
  • be consistent in tone and timing
  • incorporate video and live streams.

C. Overcoming Challenges and Mitigating Risk

Two reasons CEOs might be hesitant to hop on the social media bandwagon include time management challenges and perceived risks. We believe that the benefits of posting on social media outweighs both.

Mitigating Risk

True, posting something that gets you or your company in hot water is a chance you take. But following a few rules can mitigate that risk. These include:

    1. Maintaining a professional image. This means keeping posts of pets, family members and other personal content selective and strategic. You can still establish and maintain a human presence by praising employees, marking work anniversaries, and commenting on industry trends.
    2. Avoiding controversy. In general, CEOs would be wise to keep commentary on issues of the day to themselves. It’s too easy to get something wrong in today’s volatile social media environment, where some people are all too eager to pounce on something they find offensive or off-base.
    3. Handling criticism. As a CEO, you have developed a thick skin. There’s no reason to engage in schoolyard taunts. Accept criticism on good faith, as something that people are offering to help you grow and do better.

A large social media "like" bubble with a heart and a hand holding a cell phone

Time Management

Yes, your time is valuable. But an effective social media strategy requires only a few minutes a day. By approaching it not as an onerous task but as an opportunity to engage with people and build up your company you will find it easier to balance your primary responsibilities with a few minutes on social.

Also, though we encourage a hands-on approach, we would also push business leaders to delegate at least some tasks. While it’s important for authenticity’s sake for a CEO to be seen steering the ship, you can’t be expected to be an expert in creating behind-the-scenes video, for instance. A CEO can also hire an executive thought leadership PR firm to help with strategy and content.

D. Measuring Success

Any effective social media strategy for CEOs should include some number-crunching. Diving into analytics allows you to measure your progress towards goals, make informed decisions, and compare against competitors. Some KPIs to watch include number of accounts reached, number of followers, amount of engagement, and shares.

Keep in mind that best practices for CEO social media engagement are ever-evolving. Use the above as a guide, but keep your eye on the progress of social media engagement for CEOs.

At the same time, don’t lose sight of the opportunities that social media has opened up for companies and leaders. There’s never been a better time to get your message out there, build your brand, and position yourself as a thought leader.

Sign up for The Helm Newsletter!

Latest Posts