News: Ireland’s tourism chief ‘most influential’ CEO on social media

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THE first Irish Social CEO Report was released in November by strategic reputation and communications firm The Reputations Agency (TRA) with Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons emerging as the most influential Irish leader on social media.

The Social CEO Report analyzed the social media activity and LinkedIn profiles of the CEOs of the 100 organizations featured in the agency’s respected Ireland RepTrak® study over a six-month period from March to September 2020. 

The study showed that 85 per cent of the 100 Irish leaders examined have a LinkedIn account, but only 38 per cent posted in 2020. Only 27 per cent were active on Twitter. Of those studied, 30 CEOs were noted as having a well-executed social media strategy ensuring they maximized their connections and content in order to elevate their organization’s vision and purpose. 

Niall Gibbons was highly commended for the popularity of his LinkedIn channel, the vibrancy of his narrative in promoting the island of Ireland overseas on behalf of Tourism Ireland and the quality of the engagement from his connections. Anne O’Leary, CEO, Vodafone Ireland and Francesca McDonagh, CEO, Bank of Ireland took second and third place, respectively. 

“I was delighted to be named on the Social CEO Report of The Reputations Agency. These are challenging times for everyone, so it’s probably more important than ever to keep communication flowing. With very limited in person contact and no travel right now, social media has allowed me to stay connected and keep in touch with our key stakeholders on a regular basis this year. Even though we can’t welcome international visitors for now, I want to remind people everywhere what a great choice the island of Ireland will be for a holiday – when the time is right,” said Gibbons.

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. Social media leaders played their part in leveraging these digital platforms to build corporate reputation.

Niamh Boyle, managing director at The Reputations Agency, said, “The appeal of a senior leadership team and its ability to communicate not just about financial performance or the latest product or service, but to provide a clear and compelling corporate vision is becoming more and more important. Leadership can be an important conduit for enterprises to communicate about their innovation, workplace, citizenship programs, governance, performance, as well as their products and services – all drivers of corporate reputation. A leader who can communicate openly, authentically, and transparently can help win the hearts and minds of their stakeholders.”  

Striking the right tone on social media had a heightened importance given that the period under review was from March to September of this year. Their activity on social media was a strong representation of how these leaders responded during the Covid-19 crisis and how they led their organizations during a period of change and uncertainty. All top 10 leaders addressed Covid-19 in their posts with 46 per cent of content directly promoting support measures for their industry and customers specifically for the pandemic. Displaying internal resilience and communicating a strong business continuity plan was the second most common theme with 32 per cent of all posts from the top 10 relating to internal business news and initiatives.  

Director at The Reputations Agency Anne Browning said the new study highlighted the importance of a strong leadership strategy. “Organizations who are perceived as well organized, effectively managed, with appealing leaders, and a strong vision for the future can help build stronger corporate reputations.” She said LinkedIn and Twitter were examined because they are the most used of corporate communications platforms. LinkedIn was the ultimate channel to focus on for our rankings given its space as a professional community. It remains an undeniably safe space to communicate on and elevate your organizations’ corporate reputation.”

Leaders of indigenous Irish organizations account for 40 per cent of the top ten and 50 per cent of the top 30 positions. Irish semi-state bodies were also strongly represented, with their CEOs taking one-third of the top 30 positions, led by the CEOs of Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, IDA Ireland, RTÉ, and An Post.