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Social CEO 2023 Report

Stephen van Rooyen, Sky UK & Ireland has emerged as the most influential leader on social media in Ireland, according to the fourth Social CEO 2023 Report released by strategic reputation and communications firm The Reputations Agency. The report marks the fourth year of the agency's Leaders Reputation Programme and highlights the critical role leaders can play in communicating on behalf of their organisations. The study reveals that CEOs are three times more likely to use LinkedIn than X (formerly Twitter) when engaging on behalf of their organisations. 88 of the 100 CEOs measured had LinkedIn accounts, with 64 active on LinkedIn in 2023 while 31 of the 100 CEOs had an X account in 2023, with just 21 active on X.


LinkedIn and X were examined because they are the most used by CEOs as corporate communications platforms. Once again LinkedIn proves to be the ultimate channel to focus upon given the number of CEOs actively engaged and remains a safe space for CEOs to communicate on and to elevate their organisations’ corporate reputation.


The Social CEO 2023 Report ranks 100 CEOs across 16 sectors in Ireland according to influence on social media. Three key metrics were applied to decide the ranking – Popularity, the number of connections the CEO had built up; Engagement, the number of likes, reactions and comments received; and Activity - the number of posts CEOs published.


The Social CEO Report 2023 - Top 20 ranking


1.       Stephen van Rooyen, Sky UK & Ireland

11. (Joint) Bernard Gloster, HSE

2.       Anne O’ Leary, Meta

11. (Joint) Anne Sheehan, Microsoft

3.       Paul Marchant, Primark (Penneys)

13.   Lisa Brankin, Ford

4.       Paul Kelly, Fáilte Ireland

14.   Chris Brownridge, BMW

5.       Alice Mansergh, Tourism Ireland

15.   Sue Duke, LinkedIn

6.       David McRedmond, An Post

16.   John Paul Scally, Lidl

7.       Harry Goddard, Deloitte

17.   Eddie Wilson, Ryanair

8.       Frank O’ Keefe, EY

18.   Amanda Nelson, Vodafone

9.       Robert Finnegan, Three

19.   Nodjame Fouad, Irish Distillers

10.   (Joint) Adaire Fox-Martin, Google

10.   (Joint) JD Buckley, Sky Ireland

20.   Stephen Watkins, Boots


Commenting on the results, Niamh Boyle, CEO at The Reputations Agency said:

“Our Social CEO 2023 Report analysed the LinkedIn profiles of 100 CEOs in Ireland and explored those CEOs who are maximising social media platforms as a tool to share their organisation’s purpose, vision, values, make important announcements, become strong brand advocates, build stronger relationships, and elevate their organisation’s corporate reputation in the process. Our study showed that LinkedIn was the social media channel of choice for chief executives in Ireland.

“Leaders are an incredibly important channel for enterprises to communicate about their organisations, articulating a clear and compelling corporate vision and sense of purpose. Surprisingly close to one-third of CEOs didn’t engage on the two social media platforms we studied. Undertaking a Leaders Reputation Programme can provide business leaders with the skills and confidence to engage with their important audiences.”



Leaders Reputation Programme

The release of the report marks the fourth year of the agency's Leaders Reputation Programme, a three-month leadership communications programme, designed to empower and build confidence in business leaders to communicate and advocate for their organisation externally. The programme consists of four building blocks - the important role of leadership in reputation management, social media guidance, coaching for media interviews and speaking opportunities and a national media profiling programme.


Topics of National Importance 2023

For the first time the Social CEO 2023 Report examines the level of posts that related to eight important topics in Ireland in 2023 – AI, climate change, data protection/cyber security, gender equality, housing, inflation, war in Ukraine, and refugees in Ireland. The topic mentioned most across CEO posts was climate change at 6 per cent of all posts, followed by AI at 5 per cent, gender equality at 4 per cent, and data protection/cyber security, housing and inflation at 1 per cent each. CEOs shied away from posting on the war in Ukraine and refugees with just seven and four posts respectively. Amongst the top ten ranked CEO posts however, 9 per cent posted about AI.


One in two (50 percent) of all posts related to the CEO’s organisation’s Products & services, while 47 per cent covered Citizenship, showcasing their organisation’s positive influence on society, environmental responsibility or support of good causes. 44 percent related to Leadership, while just 17 per cent related to Conduct or Governance issues.


Females played a stronger communications and engagement role than males proportionally. While just 25 of the 100 organisations measured were led by women, this was up from just 14 in 2022 and 17 in 2021.  Eight (40 percent) of the top 20 in our study are female leaders with Anne O’Leary, Meta; Alice Mansergh, Tourism Ireland; Adaire Fox-Martin, Google; Anne Sheehan, Microsoft; Lisa Brankin, Ford; Sue Duke, LinkedIn; Amanda Nelson, Vodafone; and Nodjame Fouad, Irish Distillers each taking top twenty positions.   

 Social CEO Top Ten female leaders 2023 V1 ROC 270224


Significant CEO movement between 2022 and 2023 - 28 of the 100 CEOs studied were new to their position in 2023. Of those 64 who were active on LinkedIn in 2023, 23 CEOs, or 35 per cent, were new to their positions. 

For more information on the agency’s Leaders Reputation Programme, please click the link: Here


Irish vs Multinational Company leaders - Leaders of indigenous Irish organisations account for four of the top ten -  Primark, Failte Ireland, Tourism Ireland, and An Post – with three being CEOs of semi-state bodies.


Leaders of social media firms played their part in leveraging these digital platforms to build corporate reputation. Anne O’Leary, Meta, took second place overall while LinkedIn CEO Sue Duke took 15th place in our 2023 study down from 9th place under Sharon McCooey’s leadership in 2022. 


The biggest leap was made by Natasha Adams, CEO, Tesco Ireland & Northern Ireland, who moved up 18 places from 43rd in 2022 to 25th in 2023.



Amongst the 64 active CEOs in 2023 they had an average 5,100 average connections, up six percent on 4,800 connections in 2022. The three most highly connected CEOs were Anne O’Leary, Meta and Adair Fox-Martin, Google Ireland with just under 25,000 connections each, both up 25 per cent over the last year, while Paul Kelly, Failte Ireland at 22,000 doubled his connections in one year.


Posts and Levels of Engagement

Of the 64 CEOs who were active on LinkedIn, they posted an average of 24 times in 2023, receiving on average six comments and 165 reactions for each post. Engagement declined since 2022 when active CEOs received an average of seven comments and 195 reactions per post. The numbers of posts in 2023 ranged from as high as 207 posts over the course of twelve months in one leader’s case, to as low as just one post in the year amongst six of the 64 CEOs deemed active in 2023.

Engagement levels were high amongst the winners.  EY’s Frank O’Keefe had the highest level of engagement over the course of twelve months with close to 27,000 likes, reactions and comments amongst his community, Stephen van Rooyen, Sky Ireland & UK was second highest with just over 22,000 while Paul Marchant, Primark ranked third with over 19,000.


Niall Gibbons, Head of Tourism at NEOM

Niall Gibbons,  Head of Tourism at NEOM,  a new urban area planned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, who took the number one spot in the first three years of the study between 2020-2022 was not included in this year’s study having  retired as CEO at Tourism Ireland in April 2023, one of the 100 organisations studied. Had NEOM been included amongst the 100 organisations studied, Niall would have taken the top spot for a fourth year, gaining the most points of all CEOs with the largest number of connections at 35,000 and the largest number of post engagements. Niall increased his connections by 40% in one year to 35,000.


Survey Methodology

The study analysed the LinkedIn profiles of the CEOs of the 100 organisations featured in The Reputation’s Agency annual Ireland RepTrak® study – amongst the largest, most familiar, and most important organisations in Ireland across 16 sectors. The study focused on the twelve months from 14th February 2023 to 13th February 2024.


Three key metrics were applied to decide the ranking – popularity, engagement & activity:

  1. Popularity is based on how many followers the CEO has built up on LinkedIn indicating their potential audience reach on that platform (30% weighting).
  2. Engagement is based on the absolute engagement the CEO received from their posts (the total amount of likes/reactions and comments they received from followers this year) (40% weighting) and the quality of engagement they received (the percentage of likes/reactions and comments they received per post) (20% weighting).
  3. Activity is based on how many posts the CEO published, indicating how active they are on the platform (10% weighting).

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