Should CEOs Tweet And Blog?
The decision to blog or tweet on Twitter for some chief executive officers seems like a no-brainer. Others prefer not to make the time or have concerns about being too free, slipping and giving away trade secrets.
Forrester Research Chief Executive Officer George Colony predicts that within 15 years CEOs will need to know the ins and outs of new media, social network technologies and social communities before they get the job.
It's no longer appropriate to leave all the blogging and the social communications to others in the organization, Colony says. That bold statement came during the opening remarks at the Forrester Marketing Forum 2010 conference in Los Angeles Thursday.
Colony, who reaches out to consumers and clients in tweets on Twitter, says CEOs should write their own blogs, but have an editor to double check the copy.
It's a mixed bag for the C-level executives at the top 100 largest companies, with only a handful that blog and tweet. Google CEO Eric Schmidt's verified Twitter account lists 73,771 followers. Among the 93 that Schmidt follows, BlackBerry News and Research In Motion (RIM), as well as Microsoft's Bill Gates, who also has a verified account.
Schmidt tweeted once in April, but has yet to post a blog post. MySpace Co-President Mike Jones has 4,145 followers and follows 1,949 on Twitter. He tweets several times weekly and has a blog -- but as Colony points out, he has yet to post this year.
There are risks to tweeting on Twitter. The platform with built-in location-based services can supply too much information about location and reveal data about the competitive makeup of the CEO's job.
Laying out some guidelines to help CEOs get started, Colony says C-level executives should blog four to eight times per year, and tweet on Twitter 12 to 24 times per year. This is not a race for followers, he says, but rather a way to stay connected.
"Social heavy is a race to get followers, but social light gives the CEO a social profile that provides quality interaction with consumers and employees rather than quantity," Colony says.
Marketers can give the CEO what Colony calls "social cliff notes" and put together a "social light strategy." Get them started with a six-month test. Make sure readers of the blog know you don't plan to post or tweet daily, but rather infrequently, so they will come back.
Does your CEO want to talk, and can they relate to the social community? The CEO must be somewhat controversial, thought-provoking and have something of value to say to the audience. When Colony asked the audience if their company has the correct CEO in place based on these questions, only 5% to 10% of those in the room raised their hand.
The social technographic of the people the CEO will reach varies, but it's clear that the list continues to grow in the United States., according to the North American Technographics Interactive Marketing Online Survey conducted in Q2 2009 and Q2 2007. In the U.S., the comparison follows: Creators, 24% in 2009 vs. 18% in 2007; Critics, 37% vs. 25%; Collectors, 21% vs. 12%; Joiners, 51% vs. 25%; Spectators, 73% vs. 48%; and Inactives, 18% vs. 44%, respectively.
Forrester helps clients discover the social technographics of their customers. Generally, most people from the AIM or Facebook generation will have high social technographics, Colony says.