To tweet or not to tweet? Is that STILL the question? For many CEOs it is.
According to Forrester Research Chief Executive Officer, George Colony, “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.” As you can imagine his prediction caused a few rumbles from the audience at Thursday’s Forrester Marketing Forum 2010 conference in Los Angeles.
Colony strongly suggests that CEOs should write their own blogs -- with an editor to double check the copy -- and C-level executives should blog four to eight times per year, while tweeting on Twitter 12 to 24 times per year.
Colony points out that it’s the need to stay connected, rather than a need to compete against other companies for the most posts or tweets, that is driving the social media endeavors of companies and their executives.
C-level executives at the top 100 largest companies with a blog and Twitter account are few and far between. 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. Yet, Schmidt has only tweeted once in April and has not blogged. Compare that to MySpace Co-President Mike Jones, who has 4,145 followers and follows 1,949 on Twitter. He tweets several times weekly and has a blog.
Of course, getting CEOs online may not be so easy. There are risks after all, from security to liability. But Colony strongly encourages that marketers can begin by giving the CEO a sort of "social cliff notes" and put together a "social light strategy."
Prepare a six-month test, making sure readers of the blog know you don't plan to post or tweet daily, but rather infrequently, so they will come back. Of course, having a charismatic CEO with something to say helps, too. When asked 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.