This morning, the Wall Street Journal ran a great article about CEOs and their continued reluctance to be on Twitter. For those of us in the Bay Area, this is shocking, especially considering we’ve gone beyond that to the point where venture capitalists are posting funny videos on YouTube. The article cites a recent report by CEO.com and analytics company Domo that seven in 10 Fortune 500 CEOs have no presence on major social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+. And we’re supposed to be in the Information Age!
Social media isn’t going anywhere. Twitter, in particular is a great vehicle for communicating a variety of messages to every audience you can think of. If you’re not on Twitter yet, strongly consider it. The benefits are strong, but there are caveats.
With that in mind, let’s look at the following 10 Tweeting Tips for Top CEOs:
- Make your voice your own: It’s amazing how much you can glean from a 140 character Tweet. Your personality shines through. Embrace it. If you’re reading a book that inspires you, tweet about it.
- Expect snark: Twitter’s a lot like life: You need a thick skin to get through it. You will find followers who will retweet your comments and provide running commentary. Some of it will be cruel. Ignore it and rise above it. However, your Twitter account will be a conduit for customers who have genuine complaints about your company. Make sure you handle these with genuine care and concern.
- Don’t change who you are: See the first rule. People are following you for a reason. Maybe you inspire them, or you’re funny, or you’re insightful. If you wander too far off what you’re known for, people can sense it. If you don’t write your own tweets, your followers will pick up on it. Be consistent.
- Don’t be a press release: Aetna Inc. CEO Mark Bertolini makes this point in the article, “I don’t want to be a press release. You have to take some chances. You have to put yourself out there.” Your followers aren’t following you because you tweet your company’s press release. They might be interested in the story behind what’s in the press release… tweet that instead.
- Know your audience: Your audience is everyone – customers, investors, journalists, employees, family members. Once you realize that going in, you’ll be just fine. You’re the CEO of a company, you will get followers…lot’s of them.
- It’s not personal, it’s business. It’s not business, it’s personal: It’s both. People who follow you for your business insights are secretly hoping your personality will shine through – it gives them insight into how you do business. People who follow you for personal insight also want to know about how you work. Twitter gives you the opportunity to provide a more complete identity.
- You’ll get told what to do: In the corporate world, one’s Twitter account isn’t just personal. Employees (especially PR and marketing folks) will ask you to tweet certain things. Your Twitter account will become part of your company’s “social media strategy”. In that regard, treat your Twitter account as you would treat your email account: It’s yours, but recognize that it is a communications vehicle for your company and your messaging.
- Pause before you hit the “Tweet” button: This is good advice for anyone. Any time you write a tweet, step back. If you pause long enough to slowly ask, “Should I really be tweeting this?” and your answer is a clear-cut “Yes”, rethink it. Treat a tweet like a potential controversial email.
- Find your Rat Pack: This tip came from Syreeta Mussante at LewisPR and it’s a good one. Frank had Sammy, Peter, Dean and Joey. Who do you have? Who do you respect? Who do you look up to? Tweet the way they tweet. Engage with them. Aspire to tweet the way they tweet. If you want to run your company the way Richard Branson runs Virgin, follow@richardbranson. If you’re a disrupter, follow @mcuban. Also, develop engaging tweet conversations with your peers… it makes for compelling insight into your business.
- Interact: Finally, and this one’s important, Twitter is not a one-way conversation. It’s a multi-directional, international conversation. Read, respond and retweet.
Do you have any other tips? Please put them in the comments section below or tweet them with the #uprightposition hashtag.