Top 50, better make that 5, CEOs using social media

Posted on February 10, 2012

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Recently the headline Reuters names the top 50 social CEOs caught my eye – and not just because I’m a sucker for top 50 lists.

Who would I consider unexpected members of the list? I was trying to look beyond those for whom social media is their main focus, those who are tech and internet supremos, and others so famous or powerful that the moment they have an account it gains hundreds of thousands of followers.

Who did that leave? Not many.

After my Goldilocks analysis to root out those too internet, too Mr Big, I was left with those few deemed  ‘just right’…

I thought Micky Arison (at 10), who is the CEO of Carnival Corporation – a big cruise liner company but hardly one that means its boss would be social media catnip no matter what – was on my list. Then I learned he is also the “managing general partner” (ie a bigwig) at the Miami Heat basketball team.

I didn’t mention sports types at the outset – and maybe CEOs or other suits that run teams should get a look in – but I still felt he wasn’t the type of contender I was looking for.

So I ended up with five. Out of 50.

Four – mostly women, coincidentally I think – give me a theme I can run with.

Doug Ulman (26), CEO at Livestrong, Tory Johnson (29) at Women for Hire, Michelle Rhee (33) at StudentsFirst and Jasmine Whitbread (48) at Save the Children International are all leaders of organisations with a cause. Sure, some would say the right internet entrepreneur or big media boss has a cause but it’s hard to argue against ‘making money’ as at least an equal motivation for them. Their shareholders wouldn’t want them saying otherwise. (Don’t get me started on Google’s ‘Don’t be evil’.)

Some don’t have a huge social presence. In fact there would be dozens of people at some of the other companies on the list, besides the profiled CEO, with more social brownie points.  (Klout was a factor in this list.)

But I don’t think it was in any way inevitable they would make it onto a list like this.

The last person on the list? Fernando Aguirre (38), the boss of Chiquita, the fruit people. Is it because he was on Undercover Boss in the US (over a year ago)? Did he do a Rupert, sign up and give good tweet? He’s a pretty frequent Twitter user but I’m going to find someone who can tell me what else is a factor, even if it drives me bananas.

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Posted in: Social media