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Study: CEOs not doing enough on social networks

A new study says top CEOs should do a better job managing their presence online, on social sites like Twitter and Facebook and even Wikipedia.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A new study says top CEOs should do a better job managing their presence online, on social sites like Twitter and Facebook and even Wikipedia.

Sharon Barclay, who runs the executive public-relations firm Blue Trumpet Group and the blog UberCEO, took Fortune's 2009 list of the top 100 CEOs and found what she calls a "miserable level of engagement" when it comes to social networks.

Barclay only found two CEOs with Twitter accounts, and only 13 had profiles on LinkedIn, the social network for professionals. She found only 19 with a personal Facebook page, and while three-quarters had "some kind of" entry on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, many of those entries had incorrect titles, missing information or a lack of sources.

Though Barclay did not poll the CEOs themselves, she said the results question whether these executives are managing their online reputation.

"I would think an executive at that level would want to exploit (an online) network as much as possible," Barclay said. "But the only executives using LinkedIn well were people in technology."

Michael Dell, the CEO of computer maker Dell Inc., Gregory Spierkel, the head of technology products distributor Ingram Micro, and John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco Systems Inc., were three company heads Barclay said stood out from the pack on LinkedIn. Each had more than 80 "connections," links to other professionals.

Facebook can make it difficult to manage an online profile because fake pages are abundant for chief executives. Rex Tillerson, CEO of the No. 1 ranking company, Exxon Mobile, had at least two Facebook pages with his photo attached, though neither listed any "friends."

"What CEOs need to realize is that millions of their customers are communicating this way, and it's foolish for them to dismiss this," Barclay said.