Last week The Financial Times asked the question, “Should CEOs tweet?” They reported that of the world's 224 biggest listed companies, only 32 have a CEO on Twitter and only 20 of those accounts are active.
In my mind, the question “Should CEOs Tweet?” is a bit like asking whether a CEO should use email or be on the telephone. Can you afford to ignore it?
Here’s the thing: in a world of similar looking businesses providing similar products and services, it’s your opinion and your ideas that will make you stand out from the crowd. Twitter gives you the CEO - and your business - a microphone, to tell your side of the story, to share your opinion and expertise with the outside world, to communicate with the audiences that matter to you.
So if you choose not to be on Twitter, I think you’re missing out.
But just because it’s easy to send a tweet, don’t be fooled that it’s easy to use Twitter as a business tool. Just because you can share a message with the world in a few seconds from the back of a cab, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think before you tweet (after all, you don’t want to end up like Rupert Murdoch).
Here are my five suggestions to improve your game on Twitter:
Remember that Twitter is a two-way street. It’s not a one-way channel to broadcast press releases - you need to engage with your audience. Invite debate, ask for feedback, perhaps even schedule a regular Q&A.
Live within the constraints of the platform. Learn to master brevity, get your message across in a single tweet rather a message that runs to multiple tweets. Similarly, if you only use Twitter to link to other communications - blog posts and news releases - and don’t use your 140 characters to actually say anything, you’re missing the point.
Know your audiences. Your audience might include customers, employees, press and investors. When you hit send, remember everyone will see it. So your tweets need to be relevant and gettable to everyone who follows you.
Let your personality in. Bland tweets full of corporate-speak aren’t going to build an audience. Be human: sprinkle the ‘real you’ throughout your tweets so your audience gets a sense of who you really are.
Don’t be a fence sitter: express an opinion. Twitter can be a great platform for thought leadership, so share your opinion. Tell us what you think and what’s getting you fired up, good and bad.