What social media do Executives use? (The first in a series of exec-appointments research findings)

Written by: Steve Playford
Published on: 22 Aug 2015

It is often said that social media use is ubiquitous nowadays. But do busy executives actually have time to tweet and share stuff?  And if they do have time, what do these busy executives do with their social media?  Are they simply for posting pictures of the holiday home in the Algarve and communicating with teenage children (that is when the latter can actually be persuaded to become a friend on Facebook)? Or has the penny dropped that in this digital-savvy age they genuinely need to engage with their clients/contacts/candidates to help their business grow its brand and its income?

First, some basic facts and figures

In the UK it is estimated 59% (38 million) of the population of 64.1 million have ‘active’ social media accounts.  Of these, the most popular platforms, as measured by the numbers/percentage who use them are:

Facebook             43%

Twitter                  19%

Google+               12%

Linkedin                 9%

Pinterest                9%

Instagram              8%

In contrast, one study in the USA (from 2012) suggested that the most popular social media used for engagement by CEOs were as follows:

Twitter                  50%

Linkedin               47%

Facebook             45%

Corporate blog     38%

Google+               12%

Other                      9%

To test what use exec-appointments candidates make of social media, we have taken a sample of 1,000 individuals from our CV database* and then used socialbro software to identify what social media, if any, they are using. The results are fascinating.

Overall, of our sample of 1,000, 44% were on one or more social media. That’s a somewhat smaller percentage than the number for the UK as a whole given above, but probably chimes with what you might expect from a sample of business execs.  Of those who were on social media, Twitter was by far and away the most popular, with 59% using it. The next most popular were, jointly (and perhaps surprisingly?) Linkedin and Facebook, both of which are used by 30% of the total of social media users.  Google+ was less popular than we expected, especially given the figures for the UK and USA above, but its 5% of the total is perhaps a reflection of Google’s own realisation that it’s a failing platform.  In fact, Foursquare and Pinterest were almost as popular as Google+, while Instagram, as befits its profile as a youth platform, had no registered users in our sample!

What does this tell us?  Well, for a start, it suggests (as does the American study above) that the best social medium with which to communicate with the executive market (other than, of course, via exec-appointments.com!) is the little blue bird.  That’s not to say Linkedin is unimportant: of course it’s not, nor does it appear that Facebook should be neglected, although our belief is that unlike Linkedin it’s used for ‘family and friends’ social stuff rather than business.  This does apply to Twitter to some extent too, but the general thrust of opinion at present is that Twitter is more useful for recruitment than Facebook and the other mainstream social media.  That is our thought too, and it’s one reason why exec-appointments has increased its audience on Twitter by 50% in the last four months. Perhaps it’s one reason you, as a job-seeking exec (or recruiter seeking job-seeking execs) should make more of Twitter too?

Finally, we know that a sample of 1,000 such as the one we’ve used is not statistically robust enough to provide solid conclusions. However, it is large enough to start to give us an interesting starting point which will help inform future recruitment strategy for us and our customers and candidates.  We’re going to present more, similar research results here over the next few weeks and months.  If you have any other information or studies that add to our own we’d be delighted to hear from you.

Steve Playford, Global Director, FT Careers

* The Exec-appointments CV database has thousands of registered individuals seeking their next great career move. If you’d like to join them, you can register here: http://www.exec-appointments.com/register/