THE BLOG

The Top 50 Social Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) on Twitter

06/03/2013 03:42 pm ET | Updated Aug 03, 2013

"Digital Darwinism is affecting businesses and it's only acceleration," said Brian Solis. In a recent post, Mr. Solis noted that only 71 of the original 1955 Fortune 500 list of companies remain today. In addition, 500,000 new startups emerge every year in the United States and of that, 50% are likely to fail in the first year. Of the remaining, another 56% are expected to fail in five years. The message was clear: no business is too big to fail or too small to succeed. In fact, the average company age of the original Fortune 500 list was 75 years old as compared to today's average company age of Fortune 500 companies which is 10 years old.

In today's connected, knowledge sharing economy, how important is it for companies to adopt a social networking and collaboration mindset? In a 2012 survey of the world's top CEOs, it was noted that the CEO sociability increased from 36% to 66% between 2010 and 2012. The survey concluded that 62% of CEOs post to company website and 50% post to company interanet - CEOs are finding ways to be social without being active on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Today, 76% of global executives want their CEOs to be social on both internal and external platforms. The survey noted: "Whether it's on the company website, blog, or on their own personal social media channels, the very act of telling the story empowers them to exert a high degree of influence over the discussion surrounding their company, both internally and externally, as well as engage with employees and the general public."

Another key benefit of social executive activities is the impact on employee morale and retention. 52% of employees said they felt more inspired by their social CEO. The key takeaway is that social media advances business and reputation objectives and more and more CEOs are starting to see such benefits.

Unfortunately, the benefits of using social media are not well recognized by the majority of the biggest companies in the world. I recently researched the most social chief marketing officers (CMOs) of the Fortune 250 companies. In my research, I found roughly 10% of the CMOs on Twitter. I also referenced an MIT Sloan blog post that said 23% of the Fortune 500 companies have no Twitter of Facebook accounts. After producing the most social CIOs on Twitter and now the most social CMOs, I felt it was time to study the most social CEOs on Twitter. I began researching the Fortune 500 CEOs, only to find approximately 2% were active on Twitter. But most of the CEOs on Twitter were not actively engaged or producing meaningful content on a regular basis. Given the results of researching Fortune 500 CEOs, I shifted my focus towards providing a list of 50 chief executive officers who are active, engaged, and delivering meaningful content on a fairly regular basis. I am pleased that a few of the CEOs listed below are managing Fortune 500 companies.

Below are my recommendations for the top 50 social CEOs that you should consider following on Twitter:

  1. Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com - Twitter: @benioff
  2. Richard Branson, Virgin - Twitter: @richardbranson
  3. Bill Gross, IdeaLab - Twitter: @bill_gross
  4. Chris Brogan, Human Business Works - Twitter: @chrisbrogan
  5. Brian Solis, Altimeter - Twitter: @briansolis
  6. Jon Ferrara, Nimble - Twitter: @jon_ferrara
  7. Mark Cuban - Twitter: @mcuban
  8. Gary Vaynerchuk, Vaynermedia - Twitter: @garyvee
  9. Jack Dorsey, Square - Twitter: @jack
  10. Aaron Levie, Box - Twitter: @levie
  11. Steve Case, Case Foundation - Twitter: @stevecase
  12. Ray Wang, Constellation Research - Twitter: @rwang0
  13. Roman Stanek, GoodData - Twitter: @romanstanek
  14. Peter Cashmore, Mashable - Twitter: @petercashmore
  15. Steve Forbes, Forbes - Twitter: @steveforbesceo
  16. Tim O'Reilly, O'Reilly Media - Twitter: @timoreilly
  17. Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX - Twitter: @elonmusk
  18. Brian Halligan, HubSpot - Twitter: @bhalligan
  19. Charlene Li, Altimeter - Twitter: @charleneli
  20. Donald Trump, Trump Organization - Twitter: @donaldtrump
  21. Michael Dell, Dell - Twitter: @michaeldell
  22. Peter Aceto, ING Direct - Twitter: @CEO_INGDIRECT
  23. Andrew Grill, Kred - Twitter: @andrewgrill
  24. Wendy S Lea, Get Satisfaction - Twitter: @wendyslea
  25. Bill Gates, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - Twitter: @billgates
  26. Shervin Pishevar, Sherpa Foundry - Twitter: @shervin
  27. Micky Arison, Carnival - Twitter: @mickyarison
  28. Mark Fidelman, Evolve - Twitter: @markfidelman
  29. Marissa Mayer, Yahoo - Twitter: @marissamayer
  30. Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation - Twitter: @rupertmurdoch
  31. Aneel Bhusri, Workday - Twitter: @aneelb
  32. Mark Bertolini, Aetna, - Twitter: @mtbert
  33. Kevin Rose, Google Ventures - Twitter: @kevinrose
  34. Bryan Kramer, PureMatter - Twitter: @bryankramer
  35. Dennis Crowley, Foursquare - Twitter: @dens
  36. Dick Costolo, Twitter - Twitter: @dickc
  37. David Morin, Path - Twitter: @davidmorin
  38. Jeffrey Joerres, Manpower - Twitter: @manpowergroupjj
  39. Michelle Rhee, StudentFirst - Twitter: @michellerhee
  40. Ryan Holmes, HootSuite - Twitter: @invoker
  41. David Karp, Tumblr - Twitter: @davidkarp
  42. Drew Houston, Dropbox - Twitter: @drewhouston
  43. Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn - Twitter: @jeffweiner
  44. Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp - Twitter: @jeremys
  45. Daniel Ek, Spotify - Twitter: @eldsjal
  46. Gary Knel, NPR - Twitter: @NPRgaryknell
  47. Jack Salzwedel, American Family Mutual Insurance Group - Twitter: @amfamjack
  48. Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed - Twitter: @peretti
  49. Andrew Mason, Former CEO of Groupon - Twitter: @andrewmason
  50. Hikmet Ersek, Western Union Company LLC - Twitter: @westernunionCEO

In case you are wondering about my selection criteria and algorithm, here it is: the CEOs on this list are either people that I follow and learn from, or they are CEOs that were recommended to me by my Twitter followers. These CEOs mostly represent big B2B and B2C companies but there are a few exceptions on the list. I am certain that there are other equally qualified, or perhaps even more, social CEOs that are missing on my list. I look forward to your comments and suggestions. And if you were wondering, yes I was tempted to put Warren Buffett (@WarrenBuffett) on the list but I just couldn't do it with only 2 tweets.