Saturday, March 9, 2013

Is it bad when your CEO does not tweet? Is it good when he does?

Recently there have been a number of publications regarding CEO’s and their use (or not) of Twitter. The tone seems to suggest that there are still more CEO’s who don’t tweet versus those that do, and that this is a really bad thing.

I would like to disagree. I want to address Twitter for CEO’s using a fascinating metric that I have come to trust over the years: common sense.

Let’s first examine the data

Mashable reported in January of this year that only two percent of CEOs from the top 50 companies (based on revenue) were on Twitter. This is down from eight percent in 2010. Facebook and LinkedIn fared a little better but no social network scores much higher than 25% and that honor goes to LinkedIn.

IBM also looked into the CEO's social media usage. Their research was more focused on what, according to the CEO's, are some of the biggest forces of change in how they and their business will connect with customers. Not surprisingly, social media comes out high:

To be honest, in my mind these findings are completely meaningless. CEO’s should only be on any social media platform when my Common Sense Reasometer is applied and the CEO scores 4 out of 4.

Let’s review:

1. Does the CEO have something relevant to share?

This question can be answered two ways: (A) You are the CEO of a company that has a reason to engage with the world through social media. For instance, you are Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, or Michael Dell of... errmm... what was the name of his company again? (B) You just like Tweeting (like Richard Branson).

2. Does the CEO have time to be engaged?

OK, Beyonce is not a CEO, but she gathered over 7.3 million followers on Twitter and has tweeted exactly 4 times, including her first tweet on April 12, 2012. It just goes to show that if you are a very busy person, tweeting is maybe not for you. Only commit if you can truly commit.

3. Does the CEO have his/her own genuine voice?

This picture really tells it all. Be yourself or don't bother.

4. Can the CEO be trusted with his/her own genuine voice?

The year 2012 saw a number of CEO's "loosing it" on Twitter, and then they and/or the company had to deal with the fall-out and backlash. If your CEO is a difficult to moderate executive with outspoken opinions, it might be best to keep those confined within the walls of the company (click on the names under the pictures to read about these sample stories).

Jack Welch

Donald Trump

Rupert Murdoch

In any case, it is probably smart to have a fully aligned damage control protocol ready for deployment when the CEO goes public.

If you want to learn from arguably the most powerful CEO in the world, then have a look here. He scores an easy 4 out of 4 on my Reasometer (for his genuine voice, look for tweets signed BO). And his wife ("MO") does, too.

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