If you’re a CEO running a B2B firm, you might not have the luxury to be active on Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. But in this report, we’ll discuss how a CEO’s Twitter presence is a must-have, especially if that executive wants to be seen as a thought leader in a specific industry.
“Social media is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have for business,” says Leslie Hughes, a professor of social media and CEO of Punch!Media. “I absolutely think that CEOs should be involved in social media because they are the forward-facing brand ambassador of the organization.”
Hughes cites a 2012 BRANDfog report that found 81 percent of respondents believed CEOs who were engaged in social are better equipped than their peers to lead companies in a Web 3.0 world.
B2BNN asked Hughes to comment on the Twitter activities of three randomly selected CEOs in the B2B sector to find some clear Do’s and Don’ts to educate other business leaders.
Let’s meet the CEOs
Ally Motz‘s Twitter profile describes him as “President and CEO, SiriusDecisions Canada Inc., the world’s leading source for B2B sales and marketing best-practice research, data, and advisory services.” At the time of writing, he had 817 followers and was following 663 users. Motz’s tweets are all about the shop. He links to corporate blog posts on B2B trends, conferences, infographics and references to relevant media and industry press material.
Marcus Daniels defines himself as: “Co-Founder/CEO HIGHLINEvc (ExtremeStartups + Growlabs merged Accelerator Platform). Founder of MeshSquared Ventures. Digital Products Junkie. Seed Investor.” He has over 15,100 followers and follows just over 2,400. Tweets from Daniels’ high-risk world of B2B start-up investments are safe, and he is clearly plugged into groups with exciting things happening, especially when it comes to investing in women-led tech enterprises.
According to his Twitter profile, Matt Orlando, CEO of Tag Enterprises Canada, is: “Thought provoker, born leader and general shit disturber.” Following 283 tweeters and being followed by 230, this CEO is tweeting everything HR, European football and links related to everything in the Tag family around the globe. More sarcastic and more energetic, Orlando tweets the bad-kid side of safe. Sure, he might make the odd sarcastic comment from the back of the room, but the outbursts are mild and infrequent enough that he’s not going to get detention for it.
Do: Connect on a Human Level
“Thanks to the world wide web, and social media, consumers are far better educated and have more choices than ever before,” Hughes says. “Many people want to support organizations that care about their customers/clients and are
actively connecting with them.”
According to Hughes, Motz is winning the caring and sharing side of Twitter.
“For example, @allymotz’ retweet on October 30 “Getting into the #Halloween spirit at the SiriusDecisions headquarters! ” shares a fun, behind-the-scenes look at the corporate culture. This kind of communication is much more intimate than a press release or a corporate statement,” Hughes says.
Do: Engage in Two-Way Conversation
Too many tweeters confuse interactive media with broadcast models and don’t respond to the comments and other opportunities their tweets inspire.
“@marcusdaniels certainly has the most followers and would have the widest reach,” says Hughes. “Out of the three CEOs, Marcus Daniels seems to be the best tweeter because he’s actively engaging in two-way conversation and not just pushing his messages out to the audience. Social media isn’t a monologue, it’s dialogue.”
Don’t Play it Too Safe
Walking the line between being an unfailable leader and being absolutely boring is a challenge that fails many CEOs on the Twitter feed. According to Hughes, the threat of playing it too safe lies in not aligning social media strategies with overall communications plans, current events and branding.
“I suggest they ensure the communication is timely, that it’s relevant and ideally resonates, says Hughes. “It’s important to include conversation in the mix as well.”
Don’t Avoid Responding
Silence on social media can be as incriminating as replying, and each case has to be treated individually, but we have seen how business leaders try to avoid wading too deep into relevant topics for fear of drowning in controversy.
“It’s challenging for CEOs because with social media, we can longer control the conversation,” says Hughes. “Most CEOs don’t want to risk any bad public relations with a tweet that is misconstrued. And unfortunately, written communication can be. At the same time, it’s important to connect on a deeper level with our audience and be ‘human’.”
A caveat here: While we encourage CEOs to take part in conversations deemed low-risk, it’s best to work with social media managers to learn about the pros and cons of engaging on a specific Twitter thread.
Photo of Marcus Daniels courtesy Highline