Tweeting #Leaders: Social media communication and retweetability of Fortune 1000 chief executive officers on Twitter

Vincent Huang*, Tien Ee Dominic Yeo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
114 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: To better understand executive communication on social media, the purpose of this paper is to examine the pattern of messages posted by chief executive officers (CEOs) on Twitter and their retweetability (rate of reposting by other users). Design/methodology/approach: The study data comprises 1,068 original tweets randomly selected from all Fortune 1000 CEOs’ tweets in 2014. The impact of the contextual factors (industry background, activeness, and Twitter age) and content factors (content types, supplementary information, and linguistic features) on retweetability was examined through regression analyses. Findings: CEOs tweet to share information and insights, to promote their companies or products, to update work or life status, and to interact with the public. Original insights, promotional messages, and seasonal greetings were most likely to be retweeted. CEOs’ backgrounds, usage of hashtags, and certainty of language were also positively associated with retweetability. Practical implications: CEOs may enhance their online social influence through demonstrating leadership by sharing insights about their organization or industry and posting topical messages (e.g. season’s greetings). Furthermore, CEOs could use hashtags strategically to initiate or participate in discussions and promote their personal visibility. Originality/value: This study is one of the first to evaluate how leaders of the largest companies in the USA communicate on Twitter. It contributes to a theoretical understanding of the factors underlying online influence – the influence of the status of the online communicator vs the message content on information forwarding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-142
Number of pages20
JournalInternet Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics

User-Defined Keywords

  • Corporate leaders
  • Executive communication
  • Information forwarding
  • Micro-blogging
  • Social media
  • Twitter


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