social ceo

The social CEO. How social media can make executives better leaders

Social media has become a valuable tool for business leaders and executives to stay connected with their customers, employees, and stakeholders. In recent times, social CEOs have emerged as leaders who actively engage with their audience on various social media platforms.

These CEOs recognise that effective communication with stakeholders is crucial for their organisation’s success, and social media is often the best way to deliver it. By using social media, social CEOs can build trust, enhance their reputation, and establish their company’s position as a thought leader in the industry.

In this article we will delve into the benefits of being a social CEO, how to get started, best practices for social CEOs, and examples of successful CEOs who have used social media to their advantage.

What a social CEO is 

A social CEO is a leader who actively engages with stakeholders through various social media platforms. Such a CEO uses social media platforms to communicate with their audience, establish a thought leadership position within the industry, and deliver a more humanistic message. A social CEO recognises that effective communication with stakeholders is essential to the organisation’s success and social media is often the best way to deliver it.

They interact with customers, employees, and other stakeholder groups on various platforms to listen to their feedback, acknowledge their concerns, and actively address those concerns. This type of CEO understands that social media has the potential to foster a deeper connection with the individuals important to their business.

By actively engaging on social media, a social CEO can build trust, enhance reputation, and establish the company’s position as a thought leader in the industry. Overall, a social CEO understands that leadership goes beyond just the executive role and instead encourages interactivity and transparency throughout the organisation. 

Importance of social media for executives

Social media has become an essential tool for business leaders and executives to stay connected with their customers, employees and stakeholders. In today’s digital age, social media provides valuable insight into consumer trends, opinions and behaviours, allowing executives to make informed decisions and tailor their communication strategies accordingly.

The value of social media is not just limited to marketing, but it also plays a crucial role in brand building, customer engagement, crisis management, and thought leadership. Social media also enables executives to establish themselves as industry experts by sharing their expertise, opinions and insights. 

Through social media, business leaders can communicate directly with their audience, receive feedback and respond to queries in real-time. It also offers a platform for organisation and sharing of ideas, and to showcase their company culture.

Social media has become a staple in the business world, providing an unprecedented level of connectivity and engagement that is essential for any executive looking to stay ahead of the curve. 

The benefits of being a Social CEO

Being a social CEO can have a number of benefits for businesses and their leaders.

One of the key advantages is that it helps to build credibility and trust, which is critical for developing a positive reputation and driving customer loyalty. By regularly engaging with audiences on social media and sharing valuable insights and expertise, CEOs can establish themselves as thought leaders and subject matter experts in their respective industries.

This, in turn, can increase visibility, as more people become aware of their contributions and seek out their opinions on industry trends and news.

By building a personal brand, social CEOs can create a sense of authenticity and relatability, which can help to foster strong, lasting relationships.

Perhaps most importantly, being a social CEO enables leaders to stay connected and engaged with their businesses, employees, and customers in a meaningful and impactful way, which can pave the way for continued growth and success in the years to come. 

Getting started and becoming a social CEO 

Becoming a social CEO involves taking certain important steps to ensure your online presence is in line with your company’s goals and values.

Determine the purpose and objectives. Firstly, it’s essential to determine your purpose and objectives for using social media. What do you hope to achieve?

Choose the right social media platforms. Next, choose the right social media platforms for your brand. This will depend on your target audience and the nature of your company.

Create a content and PR strategy. Once you have established your channels, create a content marketing strategy and PR strategy that aligns with your message.

Engage with followers. Engaging with followers is key to establishing a loyal following and building trust, so be sure to respond to comments and messages in a timely manner.

Have a crisis and issues plan in place. It’s critical to have a crisis and issues plan in case something goes wrong, as well as knowing how to handle negative feedback.

Measurement. Finally, measure your success by tracking your engagement and analysing which tactics are working best for you. By following these steps, you can become a successful and effective social CEO. 

Best practices for social CEOs 

As the age of digital communication continues to evolve, social media has become an integral part of society.  To be successful, social CEOs must embrace authenticity and transparency to maintain a genuine online presence that resonates with key stakeholders. Consistency in their messaging and efforts is crucial in building trust and credibility.

Furthermore, social CEOs should prioritise being responsive to their followers to establish and cultivate a strong, engaged community.

By leveraging social media listening tools, leaders can gather insights and feedback from customers, employees, and stakeholders, enabling them to make informed decisions and improve their overall performance.

They should view social media as an opportunity to connect with their audience and share their story authentically and with purpose. By following these best practices, social CEOs can effectively engage their communities and positively impact their business and brand. 

Examples of successful social CEOs 

The social CEO is no longer a novel idea and most agree that we live in an age of openness and transparency and the leader of an organisation has to embrace those values. Some of the most successful social CEOs are using social media effectively today.

Nicolai Tangen is the CEO of Norges Bank Investment Management which is responsible for investing the Norway sovereign wealth fund, the largest in the world at $1.2 trillion.

Tangen is an avid user of social media, particularly LinkedIn where he regularly posts updates of his daily life including events he’s attended and famous people in business he’s met. He also has his own podcast called In Good Company where he interviews famous business CEOs and entrepreneurs including Bill Gates, Larry Fink, Jensen Huang and many more.

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, regularly shares company news and what he’s up to in his role at the world’s largest company. His main social media platform is Twitter where he has amassed 14 million followers.

Here he posts on a variety of topics including celebrating holidays including religious holidays, meeting with world leaders, Apple’s commitment to improving the environment and he sometimes shares images taken with an iPhone by Apple’s customers. 

Apple’s products are used all around the world and with that comes the responsibility of ensuring that they are reducing their carbon footprint as much as possible. Cook regularly proudly tweets Apple’s carbon-reducing announcements. 

Lisa Su, the CEO and chair of semiconductor company, AMD, is another good example of a social CEO. Like Tim Cook, she does not use a host of social platforms but rather focuses on one, which is Twitter.

Su makes acquisition announcements on Twitter but rather than share the official press release or news coverage, she chooses to share photos of the people involved bringing a greater human element to it. 

As a female leader, it’s important for Su to raise other females up so they too believe they can reach the same heights she has. Publicly celebrating International Women’s Day with other female leaders in STEM supports this. 

Despite all her success, Su doesn’t take herself too seriously and will post fun images of herself. However, there is some consideration behind this tweet given the Christmas jumper she is wearing is also promoting AMD’s recent partnership announcement with Microsoft. This tweet is one of her most engaged.  

Potential challenges 

It’s clear that becoming using social media as CEO is not only a nice-to-have but increasingly a must. 

However, there are many challenges that come with the position.

One of the biggest challenges is balancing your personal and professional life. Social media can be consuming, and it can be hard to step away from the platform when you need a break.

Additionally, social media can also bring negative feedback from customers or critics. As a social CEO, you will have to learn how to handle this feedback and respond in a constructive manner.

Finally, managing your time and resources is crucial when it comes to being successful as a social CEO. You will need to have a plan in place for how you will allocate your time each day, as well as a strategy for how you will manage your resources in order to make the most impact.

Becoming a social CEO is a complex role that requires a lot of dedication and hard work, but it can be incredibly rewarding if done well. 


Most leaders today recognise the importance of effective communication and social media is an essential tool to provide a platform to communicate with key stakeholders, build trust, enhance reputation and establish the company’s position as a thought leader in the industry.

To become successful, leaders must prioritise authenticity, consistency, and responsiveness. Successful social CEOs, such as Nicolai Tangen, Tim Cook and Lisa Su, have leveraged social media to promote their companies, build their personal brand, and connect with customers and employees, resulting in increased engagement and success for their businesses.

However, potential challenges include maintaining authenticity, handling negative feedback, and navigating the evolving digital communication landscape can cost time and emotional stress. 

There is no path to quick success and just like a good reputation, it takes years to build. The same applies to social media. However, in an age where transparency and openness is one of the defining factors of being a good leader, there is no better platform than social media.

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