CEOs Increasingly Seeking Out the Personal Touch through Social Media Communications
New Research from FTI Consulting Uncovers Best-Performing Strategies for Social CEOs
More than 40% of CEOs across UK FTSE 100, France CAC 40 and Germany DAX 30 are now Actively Engaging on Social Media
CEOs that Cover the Broadest Range of Topics Generate the Greatest Engagement, Compared with those that Focus on a Single Issue
Almost a Third of all CEO Social Media Posts Mentioned COVID-19 as CEOs Seek to Lead their Audiences through the Pandemic Virtually
LONDON, 14 January 2021 – New research from the Strategic Communications segment of FTI Consulting, Inc. (NYSE: FCN) has revealed a roadmap to becoming a successful “social CEO”. Through analysing how the leaders of many of the leading businesses in Europe’s three largest economies are using social media, the first-of-its-kind research illustrates how lockdowns and virtual working, an increasing expectation around authenticity and challenges of communicating performance and strategy has given rise to the optimum strategy and content for engaging corporate audiences.
At a time when corporate stakeholders are using social media more than ever before, an increasing number of CEOs and other business leaders are leveraging social media platforms to talk directly to corporate stakeholders. Analysis of 3,224 original social media posts published by CEOs leading businesses in the FTSE 100, CAC 40 and DAX 30 on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter over eight months shows that some CEOs are pulling ahead of the competition through highly effective use of their channels.
In the UK, the gap between the most effective social CEOs and those yet to engage is widening. While just 26% of FTSE 100 CEOs are posting regularly on at least one social media platform, many of those engaging received amongst the highest levels of audience engagement in the research. By comparison, 68% and 53% of CAC 40 and DAX 30 CEOs respectively are pursuing active engagement.
The research categorised CEOs’ social media profiles into five “personas” based on the primary focus of their social media content and with a view to helping leaders – and their communications teams – understand the best route to achieving success:
- The Generalist – uses social media to share a wide range of content, from ESG messaging to facts relating to their personal life, and from company strategy announcements to crisis handling.
- The Company Spokesperson – focuses on the businesses they lead, whether that be strategy, performance, products and services, financial results or the AGM.
- The People Person – posts mainly about personal life, opinions and career, and their own colleagues and employees.
- The Purpose Champion – prioritises ESG, sustainability and purpose-related content.
- The Crisis Communicator – takes to social media to manage crises or issues only.
The findings make a clear case for publishing a broad range of content, as across the 69 CEOs actively engaging on social media channels, Generalist CEOs received the most engagements of any persona.
While some CEOs such as The Company Spokesperson or The Purpose Champion specialise in one main theme such as company strategy or purpose, The Generalist’s use of a wide range of content from ESG to their personal life, and from employee wellbeing to crisis management proved to be the most impactful strategy. Using audience engagement as a barometer for audience interest, it pays to be a generalist as these CEOs garnered 640 engagements per post in comparison to the 487 engagements per post of their more “specialised” peers.
Even when posting on specific topics more commonly posted about by other types of CEO, “The Generalist” received a higher level of engagement. Generalist CEOs gained twice as many engagements when posting about a crisis than “The Crisis Communicator” whose content is predicated on crisis management.
The research also identifies COVID-19 as a key driver in the growing trend of CEOs posting on their personal social media profiles, as 31% of all posts mentioned the pandemic. Many leaders FTI Consulting spoke to during this research cited the pandemic as the reason for their increased focus on social media as there is a desire to be present virtually where employees and stakeholders are working from home.
Andrew Williams, a Managing Director in the Digital and Insights practice in London for FTI Consulting, said: “Leaders who grasp the importance of communicating with their audiences via social media platforms will reap the rewards. Increasing numbers of CEOs and business leaders are seizing the opportunity to actively engage on social media, but not all approaches are proving to be equally effective. As our research shows, a robust strategy covering a broad range of content themes is an essential part of achieving social success”.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The full report, Leading from the Front: Successful Strategies for the Social CEO, is available HERE
To uncover these findings, FTI Consulting analysed 3,224 original posts published by the 69 FTSE 100, CAC 40 and DAX 30 CEOs active on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter between 1 January and 31 August 2020. The CEOs included in the research were leading the companies at the point the research was conducted in September – October 2020, and the companies covered were constituents of the three stock market indices at that time. FTI Consulting categorised these posts by their primary topic, whether they related to COVID-19, and aggregated the numbers of engagements each post received, weighting a comment, a share or retweet and a like equally, before creating a proprietary typology of CEOs on social media.
About FTI Consulting
FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organisations manage change, mitigate risk and resolve disputes: financial, legal, operational, political & regulatory, reputational and transactional. With more than 6,200 employees located in 28 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges and make the most of opportunities. The Company generated $2.35 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2019. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com and connect with us on Twitter (@FTIConsulting), Facebook and LinkedIn.
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