Company bosses ‘shy away’ from topics of national importance in social media posts

Sky’s Stephen van Rooyen tops Reputations Agency’s ranking of most influential CEOs on LinkedIn, ahead of Meta’s Anne O’Leary and Primark’s Paul Marchant

Chief executives of large companies and organisations in Ireland “shy away” from posting about important national topics on social media, while women CEOs engage proportionately more than their male counterparts, a study by the Reputations Agency has found.

Climate change was mentioned in 6 per cent of chief executives’ posts on LinkedIn, placing it ahead of artificial intelligence (AI) and gender equality on 5 per cent and 4 per cent respectively, it said.

These subjects were in turn referenced more often than data protection and cybersecurity, housing and inflation, which were mentioned in just 1 per cent of posts, while chief executives mostly avoided posting about refugees and the war in Ukraine.

The CEOs whose posts were analysed tended to stay on “safer ground”, with their LinkedIn content much more likely to be about products and services, leadership and support of good causes.


The report, released to mark the fourth year of the Reputations Agency’s leaders reputation programme, also found that chief executives are three times more likely to use LinkedIn than X, formerly Twitter, when posting on behalf of their organisations.

Some 88 of the 100 chief executives measured had LinkedIn accounts, with 64 of them active on the Microsoft-owned business network last year. Only 31 had an account on Elon Musk’s X platform, with just 21 of these accounts active in 2023.

“Surprisingly, one third of CEOs don’t engage on any social media platforms,” said Niamh Boyle, chief executive at the Reputations Agency.

“Leaders are an incredibly important channel for enterprises to communicate about their organisations, articulating a clear and compelling corporate vision and sense of purpose,” she said.

Stephen van Rooyen, the soon-to-depart chief executive of Sky UK & Ireland, was named the most influential business leader on social media in the agency’s Social CEO 2023 report.

The London-based media executive topped the ranking ahead of Anne O’Leary, the former Vodafone Ireland boss who now leads Facebook owner Meta’s business here, while Paul Marchant of Primark/Penneys was third.

Fáilte Ireland’s Paul Kelly was fourth, with Alice Mansergh, the new chief executive of Tourism Ireland, in fifth.

The top 10 was completed by An Post’s David McRedmond, Deloitte’s Harry Goddard, EY’s Frank O’Keeffe, Three’s Robert Finnegan and Google’s Adaire Fox-Martin.

Female bosses were proportionately more likely than male ones to be near the top of the rankings. Some 25 of the 100 organisations included in the study were led by women, up from 14 in 2022, but eight – or 40 per cent – of the top 20 are female.

As well as Ms O’Leary, Ms Mansergh and Ms Fox-Martin, Microsoft’s Anne Sheehan, Ford’s Lisa Brankin, LinkedIn’s Sue Duke, Vodafone’s Amanda Nelson and Irish Distillers’ Nodjame Fouad were ranked inside the top 20.

The biggest leap, meanwhile, was made by Natasha Adams, the chief executive for Tesco Ireland & Northern Ireland, who moved up 18 places to 25th.

Former Tourism Ireland boss Niall Gibbons topped the index in its first three years, but he has since moved to become head of tourism for Neom, a new urban area planned by Saudi Arabia.

If Neom had been included in this year’s study, the Reputations Agency said, Mr Gibbons would have retained first place, as he has the most LinkedIn connections and the largest number of post engagements.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics