How 15 Top CEOs Started Using Twitter

Everyone has to start somewhere; even CEOs and the C-suite with using social media. Some CEOs have embraced social media to authentically connect with their constituency. And, they have done it more effectively than the pointy-haired boss characterized in Dilbert!


Why Aren’t There More Social CEO Leaders?

However, not every CEO has jumped on this “new corporate communications” opportunity. Many are not relating with customers, coworkers and ‘the street’ and leaving valuable social currency on the table. In fact, only 30% of executive directors within NASDAQ 100 companies are present and active on social networks, compared to the 70% that have no presence on online platforms, reports Wired Investor.

Why aren’t more CEOs using social media to build their reputation, communicate their company’s story and drive business results? Everyone wants to see more c-level social media engagement. Weber Shandwick’s recent research reports that 76% of executives think it’s a good idea for CEOs to be social, so they can narrate their business story and news. There are many ways for CEOs and other members of the C-suite to socially connect with their customers, including blogging, Twitter and LinkedIn. When someone, including a customer or an employee, Googles a CEO, the search results should point to various channels that help the CEO’s influential story that inspires, informs and deepens relationships.

Every CEO and C-level executive has the power to connect and engage with social media. Below are 15 prominent and social CEOs and their very first tweet. What an authentic and great start for each CEO, which spring-boarded their message to connecting with customers, co-workers and analytics on their terms!

Social CEO | | @GerryMoran

First Tweets From 15 Very Influential Social CEO Leaders

These C-suite leaders all get an A for their authentic and engaging jump into social media and Twitter. Their respective tweets from as far back as when Twitter started were a springboard to their current recognition as a social CEO, most of whom were recently recognized by the World of CEOs study, published in late 2013.

1. @JeffWeiner | Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.14.22 PM

Jeff’s first tweet was a customer-service reply. Great way to connect with customers!

2. @AngelaAhrendts | Angela Ahrendts, SVP of Retail and Online Stores for Apple

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.13.48 PMAngela initially reached out directly to the Ball State Millennials on their own channel. She shows she is comfortable with hashtagging, too!

3. @EricSchmidt | Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.12.49 PMEric used his first post to attribute a great interview experience, expertly engaging with the press.

4. @ReidHoffman | Reid Hoffman, Chairman of LinkedIn
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.12.05 PMReid nicely shares someone else’s content with his first tweet, showing that CEOs can be great curators.

5. @BillGates | Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.11.25 PMBill starts his tweeting referencing his philanthropic work, indicating the good work that Twitter can do.

6. @Tim_Cook | Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
Great Twitter start by Tim Cook connecting with the real in-store customers and co-workers and sharing his experiences.

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 1.08.35 PM

7. @AmFamJack | Jack Salzwedel, CEO of American Family Mutual Insurance Group

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.09.52 PM Jack first approaches Twitter with an open invitation for all to engage. Nice!

8. @ManpowerGroupJJ | Jeff Joerres, CEO of Manpower Group

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.09.00 PMJeff uses his first tweet to share a live appearance, which could have teed up the opportunity for others to engage.

9. @Levie | Aaron Levie, CEO of Box

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.07.27 PMAaron first Twitter attempt answers a customer service question with technical support. Now, here is a CEO keeping it real by using Twitter as a social customer service tool.

10. @DrewHouston | Drew Houston, CEO of DropBox

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.05.27 PMDrew shows that he is listening first and then tweeting, by providing insight, and an authentic apology, into a customer-service challenge.

11. @BillRMcdermott | Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.15.35 PMBill does a great job of rallying and supporting his 67,000 SAP evangelists; everyone that works at SAP. Great job keeping it real and engaging with the assets that walk in and out of the doors every day.

12. @PLibin | Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.16.17 PMPhil listened first and then leaped into Twitter with an answer to a negative customer experience. He demonstrateda a great way to turn around that sentiment to work to make it positive.

13. @MichaelDell | Michael Dell, CEO of Dell
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.16.54 PMYou have to love when a CEO uses his first tweet to syndicate a customer case study. Nice work by Michael.

14. @BruceDBroussard | Bruce Broussard, President and CEO of Humana
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.17.30 PMBruce uses his first tweet to announce his accessibility. Nice way to keep in touch with the customer base!

15. @CEOMikeJackson | Mike Jackson, CEO of Autonation
Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.18.27 PMMike used his first tweet to speak directly to the shareholders. More and more of this audience expect this type of CEO connection.

Do you know of another CEO that jumped into social media the right way? If so, please share below. Or reach out directly to me on, or on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

Remember, everyone has to start somewhere and this is how 15 great CEOs did it on Twitter! You can learn a great lesson and start to use social media to engage with your own clients, co-workers or network too, whether or not you are a CEO.

Gerry Moran is a global social media and content marketer. He is a marketing strategist, entrepreneur, educator and mentor with close to 30 years experience with iconic brands like Purina HBO, IKEA, and SAP. He’s also worked for award-winning digital advertising agencies like imc2, Whitman-Hart and Digitas. Gerry also founded a boutique marketing agency and has been an adjunct professor for over 10 years for St. Joseph’s University.
Gerry Moran


  1. Jay Palter

    Great post, Gerry.

    I’ve been fascinated by CEOs that embrace social and do it effectively.

    Another example is Peter Aceto, CEO of Tangerine (formerly named ING Direct Canada).

    Here’s a recent post I wrote about his successes:

    Most notable is his manifesto for the social CEO: “I’m a CEO and I Tweet”.

  2. Gerry Moran (Post author)

    Thank you, Jay! Thanks for sharing you post, too.


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