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Debate: Should the CEO be on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn-Illustrated-Logo-High-resThere’ve been a number of surveys and studies published over the last few months regarding social media and company CEO’s. They all point to one fairly solid conclusion – CEO’s are simply not on LinkedIn.

– 93% of Chief Executives globally aren’t on LinkedIn (
– Just 12% of European Fortune 500 CEO’s are on LinkedIn (
– Just 7% of US Fortune 500 CEO’s are on LinkedIn (CTNet)

In contrast, a study published on indicate slightly higher LinkedIn presences amongst the C-Level class, but not an active one:

– 129 CEO’s from Fortune 500 companies (25.9%) have LinkedIn profiles

– 32 CEO’s (24.8% of CEOs on LinkedIn) are not updated with current company or title

– 76 CEO’s (58.9% of CEOs on LinkedIn) have more than 10 connections and 10 CEOs (7.8%) have more than 500 connections

– 53 CEO’s (41.1% of CEOs on LinkedIn) have 10 connections or less and 36 CEOs (27.9%) have 1 or 0 connection

The most recent study was published by Weber Shandwick on January 15th, suggesting why CEO’s are keen to avoid social networks: “There is a risk with off-the-cuff commentary. There are lots of examples of that hurting CEO’s and the companies for being seen as undisciplined,” according to Chris Perry of Weber Shandwick.

Being on social networks like LinkedIn can be time-consuming, but where time is precious for busy CEO’s, there may be gains that far outweigh the losses for being on social networks (the term “Social CEO” relates to a CEO who’s on a social network):

  • 78% believe a social CEO will increase business purchases
  • 78% want to work for a social CEO
  • 81% believe social CEOs are better leaders
  • 82% believe social CEOs are more trustworthy
  • 93% believe social CEOs are better equipped for crisis management
  • 94% believe social CEOs will enhance the company’s brand

( survey)

What should a CEO’s LinkedIn Profile include?

If you’ve managed to convince your CEO to start off on social networks and they’ve agreed to set up a LinkedIn profile, how should they fill it out?

In exactly the same way as we would promote all employees across the business optimise their LinkedIn profiles, we recommend that CEO’s fill out every section of the profile and get to 100% completeness that is fitting with the branding efforts of their company:

  • Take a photo
  • Fill out your profile summary, location, industry and skills
  • Complete a (detailed) description of your current role(s)
  • Have at least three past roles listed
  • Complete your educational background
  • Connect with at least 50 people

Being on LinkedIn and detailing the CEO’s career history to date is hugely inspiring to many people who’re looking to progress up the ladder in your industry and want to know how others did it. The vast majority of company CEO’s don’t have a college degree, so academics doesn’t always come into it. A more common theme is the career path that CEO’s took to get to where they are today. That story is a powerful one, and one that I believe should be shared. It is incredibly strong for employer branding for potential employees considering your company as the right next step in their career, and it boosts the profile of your company.

LinkedIn is considerably less “risky” than Facebook or Twitter for those dreaded “off-the-cuff” remarks that are seen by CEO’s as potentially damaging to their credibility. A complete LinkedIn profile is enough of a presence to begin with for nervous CEO’s!

To fully optimise your profile as a CEO, follow these simple guides to optimising your profile with video and multimedia and this 30-minute webinar on how to pimp your LinkedIn profile .

Look at these examples of top CEO’s on LinkedIn with excellent and inspiring profiles:

Jeff Weiner (CEO of LinkedIn),

Ryan Holmes (CEO of Hootsuite),

Matt Barrie (CEO of,

James Caan (of BBC’s Dragon’s Den fame and CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw), and

David Marcus (President of PayPal).

What do you think, should your company’s CEO be on LinkedIn? Are they on LinkedIn and do you feel it has a positive or negative impact on your company? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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