Why Executives Should Twitter: Let Us Count the Ways

by Guest Post on March 30, 2009

This is a guest post from Edward Boches and has been reprinted from his blog with permission.

If you are a CEO, it’s time to get on Twitter. If you know a CEO, do him or her a favor and tell him to get on Twitter. If you are the PR counsel to a CEO, make him get on Twitter. America has about had it with our business leaders: from Enron’s deceit, to the auto industry’s incompetency, to AIG’s bonuses. Trust and confidence is at an all time low. Even Steve Jobs is no longer immune given the lack of openness about his illness. There’s a sense that you’re insular, selfish, focused on the short term and don’t give a damn about anyone but yourself and maybe the board that protects you. But if you get on Twitter, here’s what will happen.

1. You’ll personally get to hear and feel what people think about your company, about your industry and about you.

2. You’ll discover that you don’t have to be so damn scared of the public. They’re not trying to bring you down. They just want you to be accountable.

3. You’ll find that there are hundreds, if not thousands of smart people with good ideas that can actually help you lead and make decisions.

4. You’ll be surprised to find that the return on being honest and open and generous is as high as virtually any other investment you can make.

5. You’ll encounter a community of people willing to give you credit just for being there and trying.

6. You’ll get a chance to test and improve your ideas, your communication skills and your knowledge of popular culture.

7. You’ll be taking the first step toward building a customer-centric organization.

8. You’ll have the chance to turn prospects into customers, customers into loyalists, and loyalists into advocates.

9. You’ll be a significant step ahead of your competitors unless they get there before you.

10. You’ll conclude that you never again want to be so isolated from the people who buy, and will buy, your products and services.

The holy grail has just been handed to you. What in God’s name are you waiting for?

Edward Boches is chief creative officer for Mullen, one of the country’s leading integrated advertising agencies. He’s a writer by craft, a social media enthusiast, and an aspiring children’s book author.

{ 4 trackbacks }

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael March 31, 2009 at 6:13 am

Amazingly well written. I agree 110% :~)

John Marden March 31, 2009 at 11:21 am

Right now, there are few better ways for Execs to connect with customers. The 140-character rule limits the trouble anyone can create. :)

Guy Kawasaki has proven that using an assistant to help you with twittering is acceptable; just don’t try to hide it.

One caveat — keep your twittering tied to your brand strategy and corporate message. Just like talking with the media — have a running list of the TOP THREE messages you want to get

Another caveat — don’t just talk. Set up search feeds on your name and your company to listen to your customers. Respond to both your promoters and detractors.

You will learn a lot about improving your business processes from detractors. The fact that you are acknowledging their concerns (even if you can’t always fix them) will go a long way to turning them into your most loyal customers. Also – the silent audience watching your interaction will respect your treatment of detractors.

-John Marden-

Tom Humbarger March 31, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Nice post, but I don’t know if it’s enough to convince some executives.

One great way to follow your brand is to use Tweetizen to create a group based on search phrases – http://www.tweetizen.com/.

The great thing about Tweetizen is that you can easily share the results of the group with others or even embed it within your website or blog so everyone can watch and participate in the conversation.

– Tom Humbarger

Robert V Gallant April 2, 2009 at 8:03 am

Love this – I’m Parcival finding the Holy Grail!

Margaret Elmendorf April 2, 2009 at 9:51 am

You really have some good ideas and I think the CEOs would learn a lot if they would just take the time to do it.

Gurprriet Siingh April 2, 2009 at 1:03 pm

If we were to apply this to a CEO implementing Twitter internally for employees, the benefits would be equally impactful.. Am writing a blog post on it at the moment, and will soon be up.

Roz April 6, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Have your CEO look at @zappos for a good example of personable and effective relationship-building twittering.

Kelly Magowan April 6, 2009 at 9:55 pm

A great post topic and points as to why CEO’s need to participate online. In a position of leadership you need to be communicating regularly and openly with those you lead and factor in how those you lead take in information.

Interestingly research by the Australian Institute of Company Directors in their recent journal showed that most executives are not interested in social networking and sites liked LinkedIn and Twitter – rather short sighted one would think.

Philip Nowak April 6, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Any high level executive/CEO that prides him/herself on innovation and customer service should implement Twitter into their business plan.

Where else can you get real time feedback on what customers and competitors really think about your company/product? Don’t be scared of negative feedback. Instead take the bull by its horns and run with it. See what improvements you can make immediately. You can be rest assured that customers will notice your effort.

Perfect example: Brian Roberts of Comcast. Wired magazine featured an article about Robb Topolski, who led the “accusations that he was a censor and a monopolist who wanted to limit citizens’ access to the Internet.” Comcast didn’t exactly have a stellar reputation with its customers. The article talks about a young customer service executive, Famous Frank Eliason (Twitter name Comcastcares), who used Twitter to help Comcast customers work through their issues with the company.

Brian Roberts soon realized that Eliason’s efforts on Twitter were helping Comcast to better understand how to change/adapt their business in response to the complaints of their customers.

That’s the power of Twitter and every high level executive/CEO should learn from this real life example.

Wired Magazine Article Link: http://ow.ly/2eEa

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