The CEO as an influencer: How to assess the appeal of business leaders?

Elon Musk is reported to have told Twitter he will go through with buying the tech firm, just two days before he was to be deposed by Twitter attorneys for a trial set to start on October 17. – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Tom Brenner

Some businesses appear to be ‘out in front’ of the pack and consequentially some CEOs are more ‘influential’ than others (in both good and bad ways). Who are the most influential CEOs making waves in 2022?

With the likes of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos making headlines on the daily, the company Tipalti wanted to discover which CEOs have the most influence on us. There are different ways to assess this. One method is to examine the ‘social capital’ of business leaders and to use this as a means to express influence. This includes the potential ability to obtain resources, favours, or information from one’s personal connections.

The Tipalti study looked at social media presence, TV appearances, net worth, fake news claims and even merchandise to discover the most influential CEOs in 2022, and the data has been shared with Digital Journal.

The 10 most influential CEOs of 2022:

Rank Name Company Twitter Followers TikTok Views IMDB Credits Fake News Net Worth ($) CEO Influencer Score /10
1 Elon Musk Tesla 106.5m 12.1bn 158 59 $264bn 9.91
2 Bill Gates Microsoft 60.4m 1.4bn 241 141 $114bn 9.60
3 Jeff Bezos Amazon 5.2m 2.1bn 93 8 $142bn 9.20
4 Mark Zuckerberg Facebook 0 819.9m 124 21 $55bn 7.86
5 Tim Cook Apple Inc. 13.6m 65.8m 33 0 $1.5bn 7.72
6 Reed Hastings Netflix 109.8k 1.7m 16 2 $1bn 7.68
7 Mary Barra General Motors 64.6k 244 13 0 $169m 5.63
8 James Quincey Coca-Cola Co 0 33.1k 7 3 $48.7m 5.00
9 Bob Chapek Walt Disney CO 0 10.1m 18 3 $7.7m 4.78
10 Karen Lynch CVS Health 5.9k 131.1k 0 0 $25.6m 4.69

Looking at the data, it is perhaps unsurprising that Elon Musk has been crowned the most influential CEO with a score of 9.91 out of 10. Musk has had a high profile as the CEO of Tesla since earning the job in 2008 and he just, controversially, purchased Twitter. Bizarrely, Musk had the most fan-created merchandise, returning over 25,000 results when searching for his name. He also has a high social media score of 10 out of 10, as he has the most followers on Instagram, Twitter and Tiktok.

Notably, when gender equality is considered, only two woman feature in the top 10 list of most influential CEOs; Mary Barra who ranks 7th and Karen Lynch who ranks 10th.

Other things of interest are that most CEOs on our list are in the technology sector with Microsoft, Apple and Facebook founders all in the top five. A big player in the technology space is Bill Gates, who has the most TV appearances with 241 IMDB credits. Over half of these credits are from talk show appearances and news interviews, where Gates was featured as a guest.

Not everything is good about social media, however. Gates also has by far the most fake news claims associated with his name at 141.

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