How 15 c-suite executives got started on Twitter

If your CEO is reluctant to start tweeting, show him or her these first tweets from CEOs and executives of major companies.

Everyone has to start somewhere—even CEOs and other members of the c-suite who use social media. Some CEOs have embraced social media to authentically connect with their audiences, but not every CEO has jumped on this opportunity.

Many CEOs are not connecting with customers and co-workers, leaving valuable social media currency on the table. In fact, only 30 percent of executive directors within NASDAQ 100 companies are present and active on social networks, compared to the 70 percent who have no presence on online platforms, reports Wired Investor.

Why don’t more CEOs use social media to build their reputations, communicate their companies’ stories and drive business results? Everyone wants to see more c-level social media engagement. Weber Shandwick’s recent research reports that 76 percent of executives think it’s a good idea for CEOs to be social so they can narrate their businesses’ stories and news.

Every c-level executive has the power to connect and engage on social media. Below are 15 prominent and social CEOs’ first tweets. (The World of CEOs study published in late 2013 recognized most of these CEOs.)

1. Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn

Weiner’s first tweet was a customer service reply-a great way to connect with customers.

2. Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of retail and online stores for Apple

Ahrendts reached out directly to the Ball State millennials on their channel. In this tweet she showed she’s comfortable with hashtags, too.

3. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google

Schmidt used his first post to share a great interview experience. He expertly engaged with the press.

4. Reid Hoffman, chairman of LinkedIn

Hoffman nicely shared someone else’s content with his first tweet, showing that CEOs can be great curators.

5. Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft

Gates started tweeting by referencing his philanthropic work, indicating the good work that Twitter can do.

6. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Cook connected with in-store customers and co-workers by sharing his experiences.

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

Salzwedel approached Twitter with an open invitation for all to engage. Nice!

8. Jeff Joerres, CEO of Manpower Group

Joerres used his first tweet to share a live appearance, which set up the opportunity for others to engage.

9. Aaron Levie, CEO of Box

Levie’s first Twitter attempt answered a customer-service question. This CEO kept it real by using Twitter as a social customer-service tool.

10. Drew Houston, CEO of DropBox

In his first tweet, Houston showed he listens first and then tweets. This tweet provided insight and an authentic apology for a customer-service challenge.

11. Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP

McDermott did a great job of rallying and supporting his 67,000 SAP employees. This tweet was a great way to engage with the assets that walk in and out of the doors every day.

12. Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote

Libin listened and then leaped into Twitter with an answer to a negative customer experience. He demonstrated a good way to turn around negative sentiment.

13. Michael Dell, CEO of Dell

You have to love when a CEO uses his first tweet to syndicate a customer case study.

14. Bruce Broussard, president and CEO of Humana

Broussard used his first tweet to announce his accessibility. That’s a nice way to keep in touch with customers.

15. Mike Jackson, CEO of Autonation

Jackson used his first tweet to speak directly to shareholders. More and more people expect this type of CEO connection.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and this is how 15 executives did it on Twitter. Do you know another executive or CEO who jumped into social media the right way? If so, please share in the comments.

Gerry Moran is head of social media marketing for SAP in North America, and blogs at, where a version of this article originally appeared.

COMMENT Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from directly in your inbox.