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State CEOs lack social-media savvy

Meg Whitman former head eBay Inc. inherits host problems as she takes over as CEO Hewlett-Packard. | Reed Saxon~AP

Meg Whitman, former head of eBay Inc., inherits a host of problems as she takes over as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. | Reed Saxon~AP

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Updated: September 12, 2012 6:03AM

The CEOs of Illinois’ largest publicly traded companies score lower in social-media savvy than Silicon Valley heavyweights like Hewlett-Packard’s Meg Whitman or Apple’s Tim Cook — but top scorer Miles White of Abbott Laboratories holds his own against Groupon celebrity CEO Andrew Mason.

PeekYou, a New York City-based Internet search company, compiled the scores on a 10-point scale based on 20 factors reflecting each CEO’s presence and activity on the Internet, including blogging, social networking, number of friends, followers and readers, and the amount of web content each created.

While Whitman’s score stood at 8.98 and Cook’s at 8.95, PeekYou determined that White scored close behind — and the highest among CEOs of the area’s largest public companies — with an 8.09.

White, 57, will continue to run Abbott Labs after the company’s proprietary drug business is spun off by year’s end into an $18 billion stand-alone company called AbbVie. Since he took over as CEO of Abbott in 1999, the company’s shares have increased 5.3 percent yearly, on average and including dividends, compared with 1.5 percent for the S&P 500 Pharmaceuticals Index, according to Barron’s. White is an investor in Wrapports, owner of the Chicago Sun-Times.

An Abbott spokeswoman declined comment.

White scored 0.2 points lower than Andrew Mason, the quirky CEO of daily deals site Groupon who, at age 31, is 26 years younger than White and logged a score of 8.11.

Groupon’s lack of profit and $4.2 billion market capitalization kept it off the top 10 company list, however. Abbott’s market cap totals $104.9 billion by comparison.

Tom Kuczmarski, president of Chicago-based Kuczmarski & Associates and co-founder of the Chicago Innovation Awards, said large, established companies must be just as nimble about leveraging social media as the newcomers.

“It’s a lot more than just sending out some Tweets or letting customers pay bills online,” Kuczmarski said. “Smart companies are recognizing it’s about integrating the business with clients and customers to make access work on every level.”

Here are the scores of other big-company CEOs:

** Don Thompson of McDonald’s: 7.37

** Dennis Woodside of Google’s Motorola Mobility division: 7.32

** Terrence Duffy of Chicago futures markets owner CME Group: 7.25

** Samuel R. Allen of Deere & Co.: 7.2

** Robert Parkinson of Baxter: 7.14

** Christopher Crane of Exelon: 7.03

** Daniel Ustian of Navistar: 7.01

** Irene Rosenfeld of Kraft Foods: 7.01

** Greg Brown of Motorola Solutions: 7

** David B. Speer of Illinois Tool Works: 7

The only CEO who would comment, Motorola Solutions’ Brown, said he doesn’t have a Facebook page but he makes it a point to Tweet about topics of interest and to follow breaking news on Twitter.

“I’m selective, but I like Twitter as much for real-time information gathering as for dissemination,” Brown said.

Brown’s recent Tweets include his comments on sports scores and his excitement after President Obama last fall signed the Free Trade Agreements with Panama, Columbia and South Korea. Brown serves on the President’s Management Advisory Board.

He shouldn’t feel badly. Only about 100 people snagged a perfect 10, and virtually everyone in the world knows who they are, said PeekYou CEO Michael Hussey.

The elite list includes President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.

Said Hussey, “The scores we’ve come up with show the average person is a 1.”

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