CEO communication is paramount for corporate reputation. However, almost half of FTSE100 CEOs are not actively present on social media. Our FTSE100 CEO Social Index aims to analyze how CEOs are currently using social media, with a focus on identifying what works and what learnings communication managers can leverage from what others are doing.
The FTSE100 CEO Social Index will analyze all posts published by CEOs on their personal LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Biannually we will report on the main findings. More specifically, we will analyze five parameters:
- Topics of conversation: What are the main topics / themes covered?
- Content types: What are the most and least successful types of content used?
- Engagement: What content is driving the highest engagement?
- Using the platform functionality: How are CEOs using the platform’s functionality?
- Tone of voice: What type of language leads to the highest engagement?
To compile this report, our experts analyze all LinkedIn and Twitter posts published by FTSE100 CEOs on their personal channels in the previous quarter. Once the data is collated, all posts are categorized based on the type of media (video, link to article, link to website, infographic, etc.); topic (sustainability, company announcements, personal, etc.); and sentiment based on comments (positive, negative, neutral). This data enables our experts to identify patterns pertaining to what LinkedIn and Twitter audiences are most receptive to from CEOs on the platform.
This inaugural edition analyzed 441 posts published by FTSE100 CEOs on LinkedIn and Twitter from mid-June to October 2021.
FTSE100 CEO presence on social media at a glance
62 out of 100 CEOs had a LinkedIn account. Out of these, 51% had an active account, meaning that they had posted something within the last three months. However, out of these, only 38% of them post more than once a month, and only 29% have over 1,000 followers. This highlights an opportunity to work smarter to help position your CEO on LinkedIn.
Only 21% of the CEOs are on Twitter, and only seven post frequently (more than once a month). On average, CEOs have 3.5k Twitter followers, with 45% of the accounts analyzed having over 1,000 followers.
Learnings to take to your next content planning meeting:
1. Sustainability remains a hot topic, but it’s becoming crowded
The best performing posts on LinkedIn and Twitter centred on the topic of sustainability, making up 30% of the most liked posts and 50% of the most commented on posts. These posts also tend to be the most polarizing, gathering the highest number of both positive and negative comments.
Posts here focus on three main subtopics:
- Corporate pledges and accreditations, e.g.: B Corp.
- A focus on green energy and net zero solutions, outlining the company’s plans and overall strategy.
- Generic climate change posts where a CEO is urging the industry his company operates in to act.
Within this subgroup, posts that highlight company commitments tend to receive the highest levels of positive engagement, while generic posts on climate change receive the lowest number of interactions.
This is in line with wider research conducted by Kekst CNC in a recent survey on net-zero communications, where we found that only 9% of people believe that when a chief executive makes a public commitment to net zero, it means the company is serious about climate change. This compares with over a third of respondents who believe net zero commitments fronted by CEOs are being used to improve a company’s image.
The remaining top posts covered a wide arrange of topics, including company announcements, diversity & inclusion, as well as personal posts. Our CEO Index found that this content features employee stories as a proof point to reinforce corporate values, e.g.: showing how D&I initiatives have helped support individuals, or how specific employees have contributed to the wider company’s success.
When it comes to the least engaged with posts, 75% were either links to media articles or those linking to the corporate website. This is to be expected, as LinkedIn rewards content that keeps users on the platform instead of driving traffic outside of LinkedIn.
The main takeaway: Be different, as sustainability is on everyone’s calendars, and focus on proof points and differentiators, using the CEO’s voice strategically to share opinion pieces rather than to amplify corporate announcements.
2. Posts with images receive more interactions than those featuring videos
The top performing posts (in terms of likes and comments) published by the FTSE100 CEOs include an image, both on LinkedIn and Twitter. Interestingly, in most cases the images that accompany the top performing posts on LinkedIn showcase the CEO alongside employees, or feature infographics explaining complex topics related to the company’s business. On Twitter, the top performing posts were accompanied by images of images of the offices or tweets shared originally by the corporate account that included a branded image, like a logo or infographic.
The second most successful posts featured a video asset. In terms of videos, these tend to be corporate videos reshared from the main company LinkedIn and Twitter pages.
The main takeaway: Inspire or inform. Use assets to help followers either connect to the CEO’s story and experience (inspire) or create infographics and videos that help explain aspects of the company’s business (inform).
3. The LinkedIn audience is more likely to interact with longer posts
In terms of length, 50% of the most engaged with posts (both in likes and comments) had over 100 words. None of the top 20 most engaged with posts had less than 20 words.
LinkedIn blog posts had little presence on the profiles analyzed, with only five blog posts being published during our data collection period. Three of these posts focused on sustainability. All blogs had over 100 likes, with three of them receiving 300+ likes.
The main takeaway: Don’t feel restrained by copy – show and tell. It looks like the days of the ‘click here to learn more’ call-to-action are numbered, as our data suggests that the longer the posts, the better. Take this as an opportunity to tell the full story.
4. On Twitter, CEOs are focused on amplifying internal and external voices, equally
The content posted on Twitter is short (usually under 15 words), with CEOs focused on the main call to action of the posts, e.g.: visit the corporate website.
The majority of tweets (68%) tagged another account – usually either a colleague, media entity, or the corporate account. 11% of the tweets analyzed were retweets, and 39% used hashtags.
Interestingly, the least engaged with content were RTs, highlighting the need for CEOs to produce original content for their target audience.
The main takeaway: CEOs are expected to produce original content and act as catalysts for content posted by their peers and external influencers. The research shows that amplifying internal and external influential voices should be considered a key pillar of CEO Twitter content calendars.
5. An approachable and aspiring tone works best
When it comes to the tone of voice, the majority of top 20 most liked and commented posts had a more personal and casual tone. However, the corporate ‘we’ is still heavily used and was used in over 35% of the posts.
Stronger posts are also very likely to feature inclusive language, with a heavy usage of words like “helping”, “supporting”, “enabling”, “empowering”, and “advocate”. Posts that use these words tend to receive more engagement, both in terms of comments and likes.
The main takeaway: Increase your influence by humanizing your voice. The research shows that although LinkedIn users interact with CEO’s personal stories the most, they also have a bias for action, liking and commenting on posts that include numbers and outline plans.
More than anything, the analysis of the LinkedIn and Twitter posts published by FTSE100 CEO in the past few months shows the need for differentiation.
It is a signal for communications managers to look beyond using company leadership as another owned channel. Instead, the data shows that LinkedIn users are interested in learning more about the human behind the corporation, and how their efforts are contributing to the wider industry the company operates in.
Make sure to follow Kekst CNC on social media and stay tuned as we launch the next FTSE100 CEO Social Index in April 2022.