Fortune 500 CEOs Shy Away From Social

70% of Fortune 500 CEOs have zero presence on social networks, according to new report. Perhaps newly minted Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, with her 183,022 Twitter followers, will inspire them.

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8 CEOs Speak: IT Projects That Matter Most

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If the "social enterprise" is the direction in which organizations want to head, and common wisdom has it that the impetus for the social enterprise must come from the top down, then CEOs of the country's most successful companies must be all over social media, right? That's not what I found when checking out tech execs' public social presence for those who are setting an example, and it is not what DOMO and found in a report they released jointly last week.

The 2012 Fortune 500 Social CEO Index, created "to evaluate the extent to which top business leaders are embracing social media," found that, with the exception of LinkedIn, CEOs at Fortune 500 companies participate in social networking less than the general public and less than smaller companies.

[ CEOs aren't the only ones having a hard time being social. Read Many Doctors Don't Take Social Media Beyond Marketing. ]

Cloud-based BI company DOMO and developed their findings by searching for every CEO on the Fortune 500 list across the major social networks from May 7 to May 21. After verifying that an account was legitimate, DOMO and examined the extent to which a CEO made use of his or her accounts. The study examined activity on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest, comparing the activity between Fortune 500 CEOs and the general public.

The social network most Fortune 500 CEOs have registered for is LinkedIn (25.9%)--not surprising, given the platform's decidedly business bent--followed by Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. No Fortune 500 CEOs had registered for Pinterest at the time the study was performed.

In contrast, Facebook was most popular among the U.S. public, followed by Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.

Of course, there's a big difference between simply registering for an account and actively using it. On Twitter, for example, five of the 19 CEOs who signed up for Twitter have never tweeted , and 1.8% were considered active--or had tweeted within the last 100 days the study was being conducted. The average number of followers for CEOs with Twitter accounts was 33,250, the report said.

The report did some shout-outs to a few of the Fortune 500 CEOs for their relatively active participation.

For example, the report noted that at publication time, News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch was poised to surpass HP's Meg Whitman in number of followers. Since then he has: As of this story's press time, Murdoch had 288,046 followers to Whitman's 242,751. Whitman is notable, however, for being the "longest-tenured" tweeter. Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffet is notable for being the second-longest-tenured tweeter, but he has tweeted only twice during that time. American Family Insurance's (AFI's) Jack Salzwedel has tweeted the most among Fortune 500 CEOs, according to the report--1,550 times at the time of publication.

More Fortune 500 CEOs—38--are on Facebook than on Twitter. Twenty-five of them have more than 100 friends, 11 have between 100 and 500 friends, and two have more than 500 friends. The report calls out Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino for his 1,723 Facebook friends.

Although more Fortune 500 CEOs are registered for LinkedIn than for any other major social networking platform, it does not seem that the CEOs or their handlers are updating their profiles all that often. They also have a dearth of connections, which is surprising for such well-connected people: 41.1% of the Fortune 500 CEOs on LinkedIn have 10 connections or fewer, according to the report, with 27.9% having one or no connection.

The least popular social networks among the Fortune 500 group, according to the report, are Google+, with only four CEOs registered, including Google CEO Larry Page, and Pinterest, with no CEOs registered.In general, the report says, Fortune 500 CEOs lag far behind the general population in social media participation: "After searching Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Pinterest we concluded 70% of F500 CEOs have no presence at all on social networks."

Maybe newly minted Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will inspire them. As of today, the 37-year-old former Google executive has 183,022 Twitter followers and has tweeted 663 times (including her tweet on July 16, announcing that she and her husband are expecting their first baby).

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

New apps promise to inject social features across entire workflows, raising new problems for IT. In the new, all-digital Social Networking issue of InformationWeek, find out how companies are making social networking part of the way their employees work. Also in this issue: How to better manage your video data. (Free with registration.)

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