Tourism Ireland boss Niall Gibbons is the most influential Irish chief executive on LinkedIn, according to a new ranking by the Reputations Agency.

The first Social CEO Report released by the reputation and communications firm analysed the Twitter and LinkedIn profiles of the CEOs of 100 organisations based in the Republic over a six-month period from March to September 2020. Due to the relatively low use of Twitter, the study ultimately just considered LinkedIn.

Vodafone Ireland’s Anne O’Leary nabbed the second spot in the groups ranking, with Bank of Ireland’s Francesca McDonagh coming in third.

Other influential Irish leaders included Robert Finnegan of Three Ireland who ranked fourth and Cathriona Hallahan of Microsoft Ireland who came in fifth.

Lidl Ireland’s John Paul Scally, Fáilte Ireland’s Paul Kelly, head of LinkedIn Ireland Sharon McCooey, BMW Ireland managing director Kevin Davidson and Kerry Group’s Edmond Scanlon also made the top 10.

Communicating Covid-19 challenges

The Social CEO report assessed the business leaders’ profiles over from March to September 2020. Everyone in the top 10 addressed the Covid-19 crisis in their posts with just under half of their overall content directly promoting support measures needed for their industry and customers during the pandemic.

Displaying internal resilience and communicating a strong business continuity plan was the second most common theme with a third of all posts from the top 10 relating to internal business news and initiatives.

Niamh Boyle, Managing Director Reputations Agency said leaders who communicate authentically can help win over stakeholders. Picture: Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography

Commenting on the results, Niamh Boyle, Managing Director at The Reputations Agency said the appeal of a senior leadership team and their ability to communicate not just about financial performance or the latest product/service, but to provide a clear and compelling corporate vision is becoming ever more important.

“With more communications channels than ever it is important to understand which channels and messages to focus leadership energies upon, to best engage with key stakeholders and influencers,” she explained.

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Of the 100 Irish leaders examined for the study, some 85% had a LinkedIn account, but only 38% posted in 2020.

Just 27% were active on Twitter.

Of those analysed, 30 CEOs were noted as having a well-executed social media strategy, but there was a “missed opportunity” for almost two-thirds of Irish CEOs who failed to leverage the influential social media platform the Reputations Agency said.

Leaders of indigenous Irish organisations accounted for 40% of the top ten with Irish semi state bodies doing particularly well overall. Their CEOs took one third of the top 30 positions, led by the CEOs of Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, IDA Ireland, RTÉ, and An Post.

Women also featured heavily on the list with over one third of the top 30 were female leaders, with Anne O’Leary Vodafone, Francesca McDonagh Bank of Ireland, Cathriona Hallahan Microsoft, Sharon McCooey LinkedIn, and Dee Forbes RTÉ taking top positions.

A successful social media leader, Ms Boyle said, is someone who can “communicate openly, authentically, and transparently,” which can help win the hearts and minds of stakeholders.