A Message to CEOs about Twitter


You may be the first one in your professional circle to do it and if you do take that step, kudos.  Betty White and the Pope are on Twitter, and they are bosses in their own right. CEOs: you should be on social media, too.

Recent stats reveal that most CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are not personally using social media.  Whether it’s because they are technically inept, find it too difficult/tiring to moderate, or are just plain afraid, fewer and fewer chiefs are putting themselves out there this way.

This Forbes article explains why CEOs should NOT be on Twitter at all, and it does have some valid points.  However, the worries described are often unfounded.  Fearing a shit-storm and causing one are two separate things.  We all spend time worrying about things that never happen.  But social media is a forum for controlling your output.  Duh.

But the idea that they are not capable of being on Twitter is another argument I must address.  Saying that a CEO is not naturally inclined to possess the virtues of many writers, such as those “involving self-expression and self-exploration” is complete BS.  Are all writers penniless, living in leaky bachelor flats atop restaurants, adept at self-expression?

Are all CEOs steely, apathetic, and reliant on a team of writers tweaking their every word before publication?

Why are we sheltering these magnates?

The bottom line is CEOs just don’t have time.  And that’s no fault of theirs.  However, these things take effort and if its deemed a worthy investment, which it should be, it needs work.  There is no cookie cutter strategy to anything worth doing and leaders should be the first to know this.  We, the prodigies, the consumers, the competitors, the new business, and the future CEOs all want to read what is going on in the day to day lives of our most revered leaders.  We want inside their brains.

That is the point of Twitter.

It’s not there to make a statement about a recent e.coli outbreak.  It’s there to share an article your billionaire friend in Saudi Arabia just read, about a magnate taking more than two weeks off for mat leave.  It’s there to open up a discussion about the five keys to happiness and if they can apply to business.  It’s there so you can be communicated to, not just to communicate from.  It’s there to show your interests.  It’s like Batman’s bat cave.  Push the right keys and the secret door will open, giving you a small taste of what we don’t see every day.

The tone you put out there in social is entirely up to you.  The Forbes article talks about CEOs putting their hearts on their sleeves.  That might work for some, but not all.  If anyone knows anything about Twitter, they know it is a forum to communicate with the world.  Such a valuable tool would certainly gauge a CEO to devise a decent social strategy rather than just open the floodgates for their own internal monologue.  Keep in mind, though, that if you’re Martha Stewart, we might all be interested in knowing what you’re making for dinner.

Then there might be the one CEO who tweets in secret about anything or anyone that crosses their mind.  What an idea that would be.  Until then, get social and build your audience, because no one listens to people on soap boxes any more.

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