Rather than waiting for impressions about a company to be driven by others in social media, CEOs can help shape the conversation.
Many companies have embraced Twitter as one of the best ways to communicate with customers and other types of stakeholders. However, many CEOs don’t leverage the power of Twitter to the fullest extent. The number of CEOs of large companies who are active on Twitter continues to be low. As of September 2014, only 42 Fortune 500 CEOs had Twitter accounts. Of those, only about 70% were truly active and tweeting in a meaningful way.1
One high-profile Twitter user is Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc. and SpaceX. Musk typically tweets numerous times a month, and his tweets sometimes contain new and exciting information. On March 30, 2015, for example, he tweeted that a new, major Tesla product line would be unveiled the following month and that it was “not a car”:
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla: Major new Tesla product line — not a car — will be unveiled at our Hawthorne Design Studio on Thurs 8pm, April 30.
Musk’s tweet generated a lot of attention; the news wasn’t announced through any other communication outlets. And there was intense speculation about what the new product would be. (It turned out to be a battery for powering homes that charges using electricity generated from solar panels.) Many media outlets joined in the discussion.
Twitter, one of the world’s leading social media platforms,2 has more than 300 million active users. In contrast to Facebook, which skews heavily toward personal communication, Twitter is used more actively for business. As a result, brand managers, customer service agents, and other businesspeople became early adopters so that they could stay abreast of the streams of information they cared about and communicate with current and potential customers. Twitter users check their newsfeeds for real-time information on everything from business news events to sales at their favorite retailers. At a number of companies, “C-level” executives in addition to the CEO have begun tweeting. However, CEOs generally have the most social cachet and are considered the ultimate company spokespeople.
Leveraging the Power of Twitter
By tweeting, CEOs have an opportunity to initiate and influence online conversations.