Social CEOs 2021: Energy

The energy CEOs leading the way on social media. What makes a good social CEO and who's making the biggest impact online this year?

An industry at a crossroads

The energy industry finds itself at a crossroads. To move forward the world’s biggest energy companies must prove that they are adapting. They face even greater scrutiny. Not only from shareholders, but also mainstream media and changing politics. As well as the people who live and work around their facilities.

Social media is key to this scrutiny. For a long time social has been weaponised by activists. Even so, it was still easier for energy companies to ignore rather than adopt social. They have trailed behind early adopters of personal social media for PR, such as world leaders, politicians and diplomats.

Equinor, previously Statoil, led the way in 2015. They launched some of their senior team into bilingual LinkedIn blogging and Twitter. Many energy companies have followed, with varying levels of success and consistency.

In 2021, it’s far easier to find representatives of the world’s largest energy businesses on social media. You’ll find many energy CEOs, presidents and directors on social and managing their channels reasonably well. We believe this is testament to the importance these businesses place on social.

But, which of these businesses and their leaders are using social media really well?

What makes a successful social CEO?

To prove a business is adapting and leaning in to scrutiny, these social CEOs must be authentic. There’s no room in their profiles for regurgitated press releases or Sunday paper lifestyle profiles. A social CEO’s activity is evidence of the value they bring. Not only to their business, but to their customers and everyone else looking to them to combat climate change.

Social CEOs are not influencers. But they should be voices we want to trust online.

The best CEOs in energy are using social media:

  • to lead conversations about climate change
  • explain rapidly changing business models, as some shift to renewables
  • engage with their plaudits and critics
  • live the values of their business
  • praise their teams across the organisation
  • acknowledge when things are going wrong

While many energy CEOs are doing some of these well, balancing them all is far more difficult.

Sometimes this is a product of channel strategy. A social CEO blogging on LinkedIn is drawn into an echo chamber of praise and positivity from staff. LinkedIn is a platform that’s viewed as a corporate ‘safe space’.

At the other end of the spectrum Twitter might feel like a brave, but more front line platform. In reality it may not reach the people and places most affected by a company’s production and manufacturing.

Energy CEOs leading the way

We’ve identified several different ways that social CEOs are finding their way with channels. The most important indicator, as ever, is evidence of their own engagement. Are they simply broadcasting, or can concerned audiences get answers on their channel too?

The companies that will survive online are those who understand  they are part of a wider community. They know they must use social media for transparency and to explain their mission.

We have highlighted those who are using social media to lead that change in different and interesting ways. Whether it is Patrick Pouyanné communicating Total Energies’ new business plan or Bernard Looney showing how far BP have come since Deepwater Horizon.

There are also those companies who are conspicuous by their absence. In some cases their CEOs do not use social media, in others, CEOs have profiles but they are clearly run by a communications team. However, the signs of progress are still there and senior leaders across the industry are increasingly taking to social media to engage with colleagues and critics alike.


Download Social CEOs- Energy 2021 (PDF)

How could we help you?

If you need help getting a senior leader started on social media or if you want to know more about our work in the energy industry then get in touch: email [email protected]