whispering in ear
PHOTO: Indra Jati Prasetiyo

If you want to see a sign of how quickly things can rise and fall on social media, look no further than the latest report from Leadtail. 

The social media strategy and insight provider once again took a look at what the top influencers for Chief Information Officers were talking about on Twitter. Among the expected topics — the Internet of Things, cloud, big data, artificial intelligence, leadership and security — Pokemon Go made the list of hot topics in the third quarter.  

Burlingame, Calif.-based Leadtail tracks influencer trends for different members of the C-Suite every quarter. For this report, it identified a panel of 382 active tweeters in North America, pulled public tweet data from the Twitter API for each member and determined the top influencers and the most important things on their minds.

It extracted insights from this data around key social media activities, such as what links are shared, mentions and retweets, popular hashtags, popular platforms used to share content, and more. The influencers were categorized into active CIOs, aspirational CIOs and those who sell to CIOs.

Top Hashtags: A Sign of the Times

For the third quarter, the location-based, augmented-reality smartphone game Pokemon Go was among the top hashtags used by the top CIO influencers, though that's a trend we can expect to disappear in the company's next report. Pokemon Go trailed CIO, leadership and cybersecurity in mentions.

Karri Carlson, vice president of social insights for Leadtail, told CMSWire the top hashtags for CIOs have been pretty stable of the past 12 months. In the first quarter of this year, #CEO took the place of #marketing, which could indicate an industry shift. 

"Perhaps this reflects the waning of the 'CMO is the new CIO' narrative and the shift to refocus CIOs on their relationship with the CEO," Carlson said. "Another signal that CIOs are focused on being strategic vs. simply the smartest tech person at the table is the frequency of hashtags related to the workplace that aren't explicitly technical in nature: #productivity #collaboration #womenintech."

The most popular hashtags, she added, are used by two to three times as many CIOs as those further down the list.

Leadtail social insights for CIOs on Twitter
What CIOs are tweeting about, courtesy of Leadtail

Top Influencers

Who took home the top CIO influencer on Twitter in the third quarter? Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce, ranked No. 1. Known for his social presence and tech industry thought leadership, the Boston-based executive "has really dialed in his social media presence," Carlson said. 

"People sometimes express disbelief, and say, 'he can't be at the top of EVERYONE'S list,'" she added. "The fact is, he is at the top of most of our C-Suite panel influencers. He's sharing content that gets noticed, shared and amplified by decision-makers."

If there's a quality that many of these folks share, it's that they engage other CIOs. Michael Krigsman runs CXOtalk. Afshar and Ray Wang produce DisrupTV and Myles Suer runs the popular #CIOchat.

top CIO influencers on twitter
Top CIO influencers on Twitter, per Leadtail insights.

Afshar: CIOs are Future CEOs

We caught up with Afshar, Leadtail research's top influencer for CIOs. Asked the most important functions for the CIO, Afshar said we're in a transformational Age of the Customer.

CIOs, he said, must lead digital business transformation. Customers now expect companies to deliver personalized, one-to-one, real-time and intelligent experiences.

"To achieve success," Afshar told CMSWire, "CIOs must leverage social, mobile, cloud, data science/advanced analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to modernize existing service delivery models and to also define entirely new business models." 

Digital-savvy CEOs recognize there's never been a more important time to grow by connecting one-to-one with customers, employees and partners. 

"The CIO," he said, "is the most qualified business leader to identify the art of the possible, and then translate that vision into reality, by leveraging technology expertise. There has never been a better time to a CIO. Marketing leaders are investing in technology more than any other time in history .... In a digital economy CIOs who are able to successfully drive digital business transformation are best suited to be future CEOs."

The Trick to Engaging Twitter Conversations: Deliver Quality Content

We asked Afshar what the secret is to having engaging, productive conversations on Twitter?

"To become a trusted advisor on social media, one must consistently deliver quality content. Quality content educates, inspires and ignites action. Today, CIOs have the greatest opportunity to be business agents of change. To build a credible voice, aimed at betterment of others, social CIOs can use Twitter and other community-oriented platforms and social networks, to teach and be taught. The secret to having engaging, productive conversations on Twitter is to be interested first, generous, open-minded, accessible and intentional about being helpful," he replied.

Leadtail analyzed 58,740 tweets published by CIO influencers between July 1 and Sept. 30. It also looked at 7,484 unique hashtags, 26,036 mentions/replies, 25,900 retweets and 33,985 links shared.