Covid-19 hasn’t changed top CEOs’ communication habits, ECCO research finds

Tuesday 14th July

CEOs’ use of social media platforms Twitter and LinkedIn has declined significantly around the world in the last year, new research from ECCO International Public Relations Network reveals.

The annual analysis of CEOs’ social media habits, which includes the top 20 companies by market capitalisation in 15 countries, has found that just 15% of these CEOs have a presence on Twitter, while only 31% are on LinkedIn. The latter represents a 22.3% decrease from the same time last year. The findings are contrary to established industry best practice which dictates that corporate communication – via social media and otherwise – during a crisis is paramount.

The findings for the UK largely reflect the global average, with only four of the top 20 CEOs active on Twitter and nine on LinkedIn. Of these business leaders, Alan Jope of Unilever boasts the most Twitter followers with over 7,000 followers, while Bernard Looney of BP leads the way on LinkedIn with more than 57,000.

Oliver Foster, Chief Executive of Pagefield (an ECCO agency), said: “More than ever customers are looking for reassurance that their brands are behaving ethically and treating their employees well, so it’s perhaps surprising that more CEOs haven’t taken to social media in the past few months.”

“The decline in business leaders on Twitter and LinkedIn over the past year therefore perhaps speaks to a wider suspicion of these platforms and how, without very delicate management, a few choice words can be easily taken out of context and see stocks and shares plunge. It’s therefore important that companies are communicating regularly with stakeholders but they’re doing so with the support of a proper communications strategy and framework, rather than on a whim.”

Christian Kollmann, President of ECCO International Public Relations Network, said: “Top CEOs stick to their communications habits through the Covid-19 crisis. Only those already active on social media before the crisis have been using these channels to interact with stakeholders during the last two months. Generally speaking, they are still very reluctant to communicate via Twitter and LinkedIn – obviously President Trump has not led much of a revolution in the way those bearing responsibility in big companies use social media.”

Countries researched for the study include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, UK and the USA.

Related News & Insight