Last year, I started a new coaching piece to my business. Specifically social media coaching for executives and leaders. The reason? To help these leaders accomplish their business goals by using social media platforms (namely, LinkedIn). So far, it’s been fun–and fairly successful. Over the last year, I’ve worked with a handful of different executive leaders mostly to raise their visibilities in their respective industries.
And, as I’ve worked with those execs in different industries, I couldn’t help but think: I wonder what PR/comms/social agency execs in this town look like on social? Who’s crushing? Who has great influence? And who’s consistently in our feeds each week?
All interesting questions, I thought. So, I set out to do some research. And, I limited it to LinkedIn since that’s the primary social network of choice for most leaders in our industry–at least when it comes to work stuff.
I started by looking at follower counts–here’s what that list looks like (again, not taking EVERY CEO/leader into considering, but just the ones that bubble toward the top):
1 – Sarah Edwards, Some Good People – 9,613 followers
2 – Alexis Walsko, Lola Red – 8,435 followers
3 – Matt Kucharski, Padilla – 4,034 followers
4 – Glenn Karwoski, Karwoski & Courage – 3,862 followers
5 – Emily Pritchard, The Social Lights – 3,055 followers
6 – Stacia Nelson, Pivot Strategies – 2,950 followers
7 – Kristi Piehl, Media Minefield – 2,826 followers
8 – Kathryn Tunheim, Tunheim Partners – 2,409 followers
9 – Paul Maccabee, Maccabee PR – 1,985 followers
10 – Julie Batliner, Carmichael Relate – 1,975 followers
11 – Brian Bellmont, Bellmont Partners – 1,185 followers
12 – Lisa Hannum, Beehive PR – 923 followers
13 – Tom Lindell, Exponent – 658 followers
Interesting, right? In particular, I wasn’t surprised to see Sarah Edwards at the top of the list. She is EVERYWHERE and one of the most well-networked people I know. However, what was more interesting was the people toward the bottom of that list. Those are all very successful people running some successful agencies. I mean, there’s probably 150 years experience (at least) between Tom, Lisa, Brian, Julie and Paul!
So, follower counts aren’t everything–clearly. What about engagement? That would be an interesting metric to track–after all, we’re looking at that for our clients, right? That would also give us a better sense of who is resonating with audiences a little more. When we look at engagement (I looked at the last 10 posts for each person), here’s what the list looked like:
1 – Stacia Nelson, Pivot Strategies – 527 engagements per post
2 – Alexis Walsko, Lola Red – 162 engagements per post
3 – Sarah Edwards, Some Good People – 73 engagements per post
4- Emily Pritchard, The Social Lights – 68 engagements per post
5 – Julie Batliner, Carmichael Relate – 44 engagements per post
6 – Brian Bellmont, Bellmont Partners – 31 engagements per post
7 – Glenn Karwoski, Karwoski & Courage – 24 engagements per post
8 – Matt Kucharski, Padilla – 21 engagements per post
9 – Lisa Hannum, Beehive PR – 15 engagements per post
10 – Kristi Piehl, Media Minefield – 14 engagements per post
11 – Kathryn Tunheim, Tunheim Partners – 14 engagements per post
12 – Paul Maccabee, Maccabee PR – 14 engagements per post
13- Tom Lindell, Exponent – 9 engagements per post
I’m especially happy to see the person at the top of this list–Stacia Nelson. For a couple reasons: first and foremost, because she’s a wonderful person and deserves all the accolades she receives. And, also because I started working with Stacia last year to help her define her voice on LinkedIn. She’s been a dream client in many ways–in fact, I’ve joked with her recently that I’ve worked myself out of a job. She really no longer needs me–she’s doing tremendously well, and these numbers reflect that. So proud of her work on LinkedIn–and the work she’s doing at Pivot.
Why is Stacia so far ahead of the others when it comes to engagement? My belief: She doesn’t just talk about Pivot all the time. Sure, she promotes the agency (and her clients) from time to time. But, she spends the bulk of her posts discussing issues surrounding the business–and issues that impact the people she’s connected with. Like taking time away from work (her recent post on this topic generated almost 2,000 engagements alone!). Or, inspirational posts like when she talks about what it takes to start a business. Or, self-depricating posts like her post about wearing her pants backwards! It’s more human. More authentic. More personal. This is what people want from leaders in 2021 and Stacia is nailing it on all fronts.
Finally, let’s look at frequency. After all, showing up in the feed consistently matters! For attracting new clients–but more importantly, for attracting talent and fostering the agency’s reputation.
1 – Kristi Piehl, Media Minefield – 38 posts in the last month
2 – Paul Maccabee, Maccabee PR – 30 posts in the last month
3 – Sarah Edwards, Some Good People – 20 posts in the last month
4 – Kathryn Tunheim, Tunheim Partners – 15 posts in the last month
5 – Stacia Nelson, Pivot Strategies – 6 posts in the last month
6 – Brian Bellmont, Bellmont Partners – 4 posts in the last month
7 – Lisa Hannum, Beehive PR – 4 posts in the last month
8 – Matt Kucharski, Padilla – 3 posts in the last month
9 – Glenn Karwoski, Karwoski & Courage – 1 post in the last month
10 – Emily Pritchard, The Social Lights – 0 posts in the last month (last post was 2 months ago)
11 – Julie Batliner, Carmichael Relate – 0 posts in the last month (last post was 2 months ago)
12 – Tom Lindell, Exponent – 0 posts in the last month (last post was 2 months ago)
13 – Alexis Walsko, Lola Red – 0 posts in the last month (last post was 3 months ago; however, important note: Alexis had twins in mid-July; she actually was much more active before that)
More interesting stats, right? 3 of the top 4 in terms of frequency were also 3 of the bottom 4 in terms of engagement! So, as I’ve been telling my coaching clients from the start–posting more often usually does not lead to better results! Not to keep showcasing my client (oh, who am I kidding? Of course I want to showcase my client!), but Stacia posted just 6 times in the last month. Seems perfect to me. We usually talk about posting just once or twice a week–at most! You just want to stay in the bloodstream–top of mind with people. If you start posting 4-5 times as week (I’ve often done this), you typically start to see diminishing results.
I guess part of the point of going through this exercise was to see which agency leaders were walking the walk. After all, I’m sure at some point, these agencies have done work for a client that needs exec visibility on LinkedIn. But, are they practicing what they preach? Sometimes, according to the data above.
I also wanted to see which leaders were having the greatest impact online (again, specifically LinkedIn). Because that’s what leadership is, right? Sharing thoughts, taking the lead, and showing up for conversations. I was curious–who was learning, growing, sharing their voice and developing a following on LinkedIn.
But it’s not just about impact on LinkedIn. There are real, tangible business impacts, too. My clients have seen real, measurable impacts in their activity on LinkedIn–in attracting clients and in finding talent. As the demand for talent has increased, the stakes are rising for these agencies. And, executive visibility can be a big lever to share: culture, people stories, values, client wins and more. It’s what we counsel our clients on. And I would argue it’s probably even more important in our industry where most people are on LinkedIn in some capacity in any given week. And, if they’re looking for a job, they’re all over LinkedIn!
One last note: This wasn’t designed to be a popularity contest. Like I said above, some of the most successful leaders in our industry aren’t all that active on social media. I mean, Kathryn Tunheim is a legend in the PR world and she’s not at the top of any of these lists! I’m not sure I even need to say this, but that doesn’t mean she’s not successful! It was merely an exercise to see where these leaders were on LinkedIn.