If founders have ever needed yet another reason to shout about their companies loudly on social media, here it is.
According to new research, the most-followed unicorn CEOs on Twitter and LinkedIn raise as much as 20% more cash than their less-followed counterparts.
As someone who receives regular doses of founders’ desire to aggressively self-promote, my hands shake as I write this. But we cannot argue with data.
Consultancy firm Hard Numbers and media monitoring company CARMA crunched the numbers on over 65k articles and 10k LinkedIn and Twitter posts from 64 UK unicorns and their founders.
The $1bn+ companies whose founders were in the top 20 most followed on LinkedIn raised an average of £763m, more than 20% more than average for the total cohort. That difference was just 5.4% for Twitter.
Which would make sense given only 6% of CEOs and founders at UK unicorns aren’t on LinkedIn, versus 42% who aren’t on the bird site. So you, crying CEO, may be better off staying on LinkedIn.
“People buy from people. Nowhere is that more true than in the VC world," says Darryl Sparey, managing director and cofounder at Hard Numbers.
"A strong LinkedIn and Twitter audience is a great proxy for a potential future audience for a product or service — a startup may not have thousands of customers, but if their founder has hundreds of thousands of followers online, that’s a strong demonstration of potential future interest."
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Press coverage is also correlated with more funding
Founders at unicorns who got more press coverage (the kind you don’t pay for) also raised more money, the research found. The founders of the top third of unicorns (by amount fundraised) appeared in 23% of coverage about their company, versus founders of bottom-third unicorns who only appeared in 14% of coverage.
The "most social" unicorn founder of them all, Gymshark’s Ben Francis, has a whopping 367.5k followers on LinkedIn — and raised an equally eye-catching funding round (its first ever) from General Atlantic which valued the business at $1.45bn.
The data supports the fact that founders are often the face of their business in the earliest days.
“With limited capital, building your founder brand can be one of the most cost-effective and compelling ways to build your company’s brand in parallel — with investors, the media, prospective partners and recruits, and of course, your user base,” OLIO founder Tessa Clarke wrote recently in Sifted.
Eleanor Warnock is Sifted’s deputy editor and cohost of Startup Europe — The Sifted Podcast, and writes Up Round, a weekly newsletter on VC. She tweets from @misssaxbys