Twitter in the C-Suite

Thanks to the connectivity of social media, corporations and their leaders are in the public eye now more than ever before. As digital identities of both brands and individuals continue to become more social, access to corporate leaders’ thoughts and decision-making has increased immensely. Because of its real-time nature, Twitter is the ideal platform for users to share news, opinions and exclusive information. Corporate leaders are well aware of this fact, and many have quickly emerged as prominent Twitter personalities; some boasting follower and engagement rates even pop stars would balk at.

Let’s take a look at the most consistent characteristics across the Twitter accounts of the most recognized CEOs, presidents and corporate executives, and find out what we can learn.

Transparency

Corporate decision-making and financial well-being are hot topics in the investment/business journalism worlds. Interested parties want to hear the perspective of a corporation’s leaders– especially the CEO– in a conversational format.

Not only does the real-time nature of Twitter evoke the feeling of sitting at the same table as the head honcho, but it also allows followers access to the thoughts and conversations the CEO is having while events unfold.

The Example:

Mary Barra – CEO of General Motors – 12K Twitter Followers

The Takeaway:

Share your excitement about upcoming meetings or events you plan to attend while representing your brand. Remember to be careful with how much information you share (i.e. don’t share anything you wouldn’t want your rival to know).

Public Relations

Employing Twitter as a PR tool is also very common among leadership influencers. Answering questions, hosting Twitter chats with featured industry guests, and making public statements about unfolding events/decisions are all methods of providing exclusive access to followers while remaining true to brand goals and objectives.

As a CEO, it shows excitement and personal investment to promote a product or service on Twitter. It’s a great way to encourage interest while maintaining a personal and professional tone.

The Example:

Elon Musk – CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors – 1.48M Twitter Followers

The Takeaway:

Twitter chats may seem intimidating to the uninitiated but never fear! If you have a large enough following, engagement will naturally follow. Hosting a Twitter chat is a great way to make announcements and share news while keeping the focus on you and your brand.

Thought Leadership

Of course, thought leadership is the ultimate achievement for the active CEO on Twitter. The following actions are a few easy ways to begin to achieve that goal:

Retweets: Not only does retweeting other thought leaders show that an individual is active and interested in the industry community, but also builds a level of camaraderie among thought leaders and those in active conversation.

Industry News: Having a large responsive and captive audience provides an opportunity to break industry news and updates with a personal spin before major developments have been made by the public or industry media. If a CEO’s company is featured in a positive news story, for example, it’s a great opportunity for he or she to comment early and share the article. Likewise, if the company is involved in some sort of PR disaster, he or she can plan and respond accordingly.

Article Sharing: One of the most important aspects of  thought leadership is sharing personal opinions on business and industry outlooks. Though it is wise to share direct links to company sponsored media and articles, Twitter is more conducive to sharing articles and links about general business and leadership philosophy. Think of the 80/20 rule: Talk about others 80% of the time, and yourself 20% of the time.

The Example:

Richard Branson – Founder of Virgin Group – 4.98M Twitter Followers

The Takeaway:

Once you achieve thought leader status in your respective industry, you have the opportunity to direct followers to content that’s important to you. Don’t forget to offer insight on what you share. Frame each link with a brief yet strong point-of-view and encourage discussion.

What takeaway did we miss? Tell us in the comments.