CEOs still tend to shun social media, but I’ve managed the Twitter account of a forward-thinking executive for several months. Here are my Twitter coaching notes and our plan for 2013.
The answer is not, “because everyone else does.” I’ve been researching local leaders for months and have found only a few CEOs in the same or related sectors who tweet regularly. And I’m in Silicon Valley. I believe this will change, but I also believe the current gap actually helps position my CEO a thought leader—which is a major reason to be on Twitter. Here are a few others:
The key is to set priorities among that long list of goals. Once that happens, it’s much easier to plan content and grow the right base of followers and people you follow.
I know, I know—a lot of people think it’s wrong for others to manage CEO social media accounts or even write their blogs. But CEOs have had “ghost writers” since, well, forever. Do they write all their own letters? Speeches? Presentations? Articles? You get my drift. Busy executives sign their names to many communications they haven’t written. That said, what kind of person makes the best partner for a CEO’s social media account? Here’s my list of important qualities and skills:
In the past few months, we’ve had only one notable glitch, when I tweeted live from an event at which the CEO was not present. I thought the tweets were general enough in nature – about the issue of the press conference – but others who knew the CEO and attended the event became confused. No real harm was done but it helped us shape our strategy for sharing the account.
I’m sure there are many ways to do this, but for now, I will tweet on a daily basis with news, insights, and data gleaned from the organization’s on- and offline communications, alerts from Google Newsle, ideas and notes about special events sent by their Communications Director, the Twitter feeds and websites of key partners and colleagues, and so forth. The CEO’s tweets will be live updates, quotes, and photos from events and, once a week or so, a key insight about the organization and its work. He’ll text me when he’s at an event and intends to tweet. I’ll text him if there is a mention or other tweet to which he should respond personally. (Example: The CEO of a local business leadership group recently tweeted about his upcoming surgery; my CEO would want to respond personally to that.)
This strategy will definitely evolve over time and I hope that the CEO will eventually take over the account. I saw his interest rise as I showed him the ins and outs of Twitter, bit.ly, and Twitpic. Some day, it will all come naturally.