Business leaders silhouetted in front of map of the united statesBusiness leaders are an interesting demographic, which might be why they’re harder to market to than most. These leaders exist in the highest ranks of businesses, so they know exactly what you’re doing when they see your marketing strategies, and they know how to avoid it, too.

Global Web Index recently published their 2018 audience report titled Digital Lives of Business Leaders where they examined the digital lives, platforms, and devices of global business leaders.

The report sampled 12,653 managers between the MD and CEO levels from 40 countries, 3,300 (30 percent) of which were from the United States. For this blog, we’ll focus on traits they discovered amongst U.S. business leaders, and we’ll compare them to other countries as well.


U.S. business leaders are still overwhelmingly men, with the ratio currently sitting at 39 to 11; many of which are in the 45-64 age brackets due to the country’s older median age. Contrary to popular success stories such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, business leaders tend to be highly educated. They are 20 percent are more likely to have university degrees than the general population and four times as likely to hold a post-graduate degree. In fact, U.S. business leaders are the most highly educated in the world, as 38 percent hold post-graduate degrees.

Stay in school kids.

Devices, Social Media, and Habits

It’s incredibly important to note that business leaders’ social media behavior is purposeful and content driven. Their top uses (in order from 1 to 4) for social media are news, networking for work, to share opinions, and to research and find products to buy. Because of this, it’s easier to reach them through their self-chosen avenues rather than solicited content.

U.S. Business Leaders spend an average of 2:37 hours on social media. They also spend more time on desktops and laptops than any other global region and spend the least amount of time on mobile.

Other key insights

  • Business leaders are short on time —they like brands and businesses to reach out to them.
  • They are far more likely to use VPNs and ad blockers, even though advertising helps their personal business. This likely relates back to them being short on time – advertisements they do not want to see only serve to slow them down.
  • Business leaders are more likely to follow journalists, politicians, and others in the business realm than average users. Journalists are the absolutely most listened-to voices among business leaders across all markets. They value influential online voices.

What this means

Social media advertisements can help your efforts hurdle over business leaders’ ad blockers. Here is the percentage of global business leaders who use specific social media platforms:

      • 88% use YouTube
      • 85% use Facebook
      • 69% use Instagram
      • 67% use Twitter
      • 63% use Facebook Messenger
      • 54% use LinkedIn
      • 53% use Skype
      • 39% use Pinterest

In addition, their purposeful time spent online – such as news sites – can leave them susceptible to ads on websites that do not allow ad blockers, such as Forbes and other popular outlets. On the other hand, with as much as business leaders read online, they likely have subscriptions to their favorite news outlets, which then eliminates advertisements almost entirely.

As stated previously, business leaders value influential online voices. This, coupled with their purposeful, content-driven online use makes them more apt to follow blogs that will make good use of their time.

One of the biggest takeaways in all of this is that 38 percent of their online time was spent on mobile, while 3 in 4 business leaders said it was critical they remain contactable at all times. This leaves a huge opening for mobile, despite U.S. leaders spending the least amount of time online. But at the end of the day, mobile use is still growing within every demographic. This should not be ignored.

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