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Who will be the digitally savvy executives at the WEF?

Manuel Valls (French Prime Minister), Mary Barra (General Motors, CEO), Satya Nadella (Microsoft, CEO), Hiroaki Nakanishi (Hitachi, CEO) and many others are gathered to discuss and share insights of innovations and the World Economy. Since 1971, company executives, worldwide Politicians, intellects and journalists attend the World Economic Forum. For the 46th edition, the Forum will take place from the 20th to 23rd January at the famous Alpine Ski Resort: Davos-Klosters in Switzerland.

This year the participants will assess the speed of tech progresses and will discuss about the impact of tech in the world economy and society. The main topic for 2016 will be the “4th Industrial Revolution”. Digital devices, 3D printing, Intelligent Agents and Augmented Reality will be on the agenda.

If executives are going to evoke innovative and specific topics in Switzerland, are the digitally savvy executives at the WEF going to share their advice online?

To get a first glimpse of what might go on online, we analysed some of the participant’s personal brand. Carlos Ghosn (CEO, Renault-Nissan Alliance), Satya Nadella (CEO, Microsoft) and Paul Polman (CEO, Unilever) have all endorsed a personal branding strategy, but in what way?


Connected CEO’s: LinkedIn boosts Carlos Ghosn’s communication

Member of the World Economic Forum Foundation Board and in charge of the automobile industry section, the Renault-Nissan CEO, appears as an expert online.

Carlos Ghosn is one of the rare French Executives who is well positioned on social media. With over 620,000 followers on his LinkedIn account, he is positioned as a “Top Influencer”.  According to the Weber Shandwick Study: “The Social CEO: Executives tell all”, only 42% of CEO’s participate in social media, however this figure should rise by 50% within 5 years.

Percent of CEOs in executives industry social media


Carlos Ghosn has become a LinkedIn social media “pro”. When many FTSE 100 and CAC 40 don’t take advantage of the potentials of the social media, Carlos Ghosn publishes articles monthly on the Pulse platform, where he writes in both English and French.

Amongst his favourite topics, he evokes the future arrival of an ‘Autonomous Drive’ Car.


Carlos Ghosn takes advantage of this article to highlight Renault’s expertise. He also evokes that significant technological transformations will allow Renault to launch an autonomous and connected car by 2020, allowing its users to make the most of their time whilst traveling from one place to another.

Being active online allows Carlos Ghosn to address his publications to “top influencers” in his industry and to the company’s stakeholders. Renault-Nissan teams, group partners, economic decision makers and fans all have access to his publications. And, although internet users are often refractory to institutional communication, the articles reach out some of the 620,000 followers and potentially the 400 million LinkedIn users in the world.

Other advantage, with this type of communication is that engaged conversations sometimes come to light. For instance, the article about autonomous cars received over 150 contributions.

CEO’s are the ambassador for their companies. Carlos Ghosn has offered himself and Renault-Nissan a strategic online visibility, with his three faced image as a connected executives, an influent expert and an opinion leader. Media articles where Carlos Ghosn is requested are well referenced. Renault also positions itself on the Google first page when internet users search for “Autonomous and connected cars”, which can comfort internet users and helps the brand position itself as an influencer in the industry.

Renault Google


Connected CEO’s: Using Twitter to build your personal brand

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer (CEO) since February 2014, Satya Nadella will this year be at the World Economic Forum. Recognised interlocutor, known for his publications about Internet Objects, the Cloud or even Big Data, he prioritises the use of Twitter to establish solid visibility.

To attract followers, Satya Nadella communicates in a “local and friendly” way.

Satya Nadella on Twitter

Visiting the Middle East this week & sharing my experiences on Instagram. First stop Dubai.

Satya Nadella appears as the Bill Gates successor, by embodying a human visage. Bill Gates, the previous Microsoft CEO, launched the Bill-and-Melinda-Gates Foundation to aid the population with health innovation and knowledge acquisitions. Satya Nadella’s strategy is to share with its followers across social media, his way of being social and human.

Satya Nadella on Twitter

Hey Cortana, What are your favorite apps?

Since Satya Nadella has been appointed at the head of Microsoft, he has positioned himself as the Man of Change, encouraging creativity and reactivity in all sectors of the business. According to many observers, with this dynamism, the company has become innovative and challenging.

Communicating online and offline is also starting to pay off, Satya Nadella’s “Social Authority” score is extremely high. Followerwonk measures people’s influence on Twitter, giving 73/100 to Satya Nadella, which is not far off Bill Gates who has a score of 85, but far in front of Steve Ballmer (39/100). It is also important to note that the previous Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, has had an account for 104 days, whereas Satya Nadella counts over 2500 days on Twitter!

Twitter Follwerwonk

Satya Nadella counts over 675,000 followers on his account (a lot less that Bill Gates with his 26 million followers, but a lot more that Steve Ballmer with just over 8,000 followers). His influence is constantly rising, which proves the success of his communication and the liking of his publications towards internet users.

Twitter followers


Connected CEO’s: Paul Polman uses Twitter and Huffington Post to preach


Paul Polman the CEO of the Anglo-Dutch company, Unilever, that counts multiple brands such as Axe, Lipton or even Persil, will also travel to Davos this year.

Using Twitter to communicate with all

Paul Polman has a certified Twitter account, with 12,000 followers. He retweets (21.5% of his tweets) and sometimes mentions other Tweets (4.5% of his tweets).

Paul Polman mainly posts messages about subjects linked to the environment, for instance, he tweets articles where he mentions Environment References, such as National Geographic, uses the right #hashtags and a qualitative visual that emphasizes emotion:

Climate Reality on Twitter

ScienceSunday: Half of all weather disasters in 2014 were linked to climate change

With this strategy, Paul Polman conducts the company’s ethical strategy offline, online. Some of the Unilever brands have high pollution emissions, forcing actions such as the Unilever Plan, but being honest and communicating on the various actions and plans engages internet users.

These actions allow Paul Polman to interact with his 12,000 followers. He addresses and personalises messages to each group of followers. He recently spoke about stakeholders where he said: “I’m not just working for them. Slavery was abolished a long time ago.” But he mainly Tweets for his consumers and people concerned about climate change. On Twitter, he is mainly subscribed to people linked to environmental issues.


His account also has influence at an international level, which demonstrates the implication of Unilever in different countries:

Twitter map

Multilinguistic contributions on the Huffington Post given by Paul Polman allow him to:

  • Attract influencers from the Unilever industry
  • Integrate return on innovation
  • Appear as an expert
  • Communicate on the brand values
  • Subtly promote the business
  • Combine acts with words


According to another study by Weber Shandwick, 81% of global executives report that it is important for CEOs to have a visible public profile for a company to be highly regarded. These executive have understood the message: far from being a waste of time, building a Personal Brand allows them to become opinion leaders and influncers.

In a more general approach, working on your personal branding, by managing a blog or even social media, allows the digitally savvy executives to communicate around their career, experiences and values. Adopting an online strategy makes more and more sense in the digital environment, where areas of interest and position statement are more and more visible by internet users.



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