At Some Stage the Conversation Has to Advance

Over on Facebook, author and marketer Geoff Livingston posed the following question/statement:

Apart from the misplaced punctuation mark in CEO’s (*cough*, sorry Geoff, couldn’t resist!), it’s a great question, and one that solicited some great responses (mostly along the lines of CEOs don’t need to tweet).

Because, simply put, a CEO has one job and one job only – to meet the goals set for the company by the Board of Directors. In that role, he or she becomes responsible for four key tenets:

  • Communicator – ensuring the outside world and/or media are kept up-to-date with the current business.
  • Decision maker – responsible for the overall strategy and policy making.
  • Leader – advising the board of progress, motivating employees and driving change in the organization.
  • Manager – overseeing the day-to-day challenges and operations within the organization.

See any mandate for tweeting there, or being active on social media? No – because, as Geoff rightly points out, the role of a CEO is far more reaching than the occasional tweet.

So why are we still having this conversation about CEOs and the need for them to tweet? Simple – social media is stuck in a time-warp created by a number of “experts” severely lacking in true business acumen.

I Have a Klout Score of Eleventy Billion, Therefore I Am

Don’t worry, I’m not going to start one of my anti-Klout rants here. But the influencer model and social scoring metric has led to an epidemic of businesses looking to the wrong people to help them with their goals in social media.

Whereas previously consultants and agencies had to work their asses off to get to a level of expertise and trust before they began advising corporations and organizations, now you just have to appear to know what you’re on about and have that validated for you by your impressive social score.

It’s not really the fault of these platforms either – although they have exacerbated the problem with their “You’re no-one unless you’re a social someone” approach.

Social media in general has allowed people to rise from nowhere and become “the voice” that people should listen to when they speak.

Never mind the fact that their LinkedIn profile has no experience of actually running a multi-million dollar company; or shows any kind of success metrics or return except a high score on the latest influencer platform and a speaking slot at some non-descript conference.

And yet these are the folks that are advising CEOs should be stepping away from their daily duties and responsibilities to their employees, shareholders and customers, so they can impart 140 characters of wisdom that may have been vetted and scripted anyway.

It’s advice that seems to have been pumped for the last 5 years or so – as Doug Haslam put it on Geoff’s Facebook wall, “We’re still talking about this? <kicks time machine to make sure it hasn’t malfunctioned and sent me back 5 years>.”

It also shows the maturity this space still has to go through, and the nonsensical talk that “experts” need to advance from.

Customers Don’t Necessarily Care About the Tweet Owner

One of the main arguments put forward by these social media wonks (using Geoff’s description) is that by having the CEO tweet, the brand becomes more human and awesome.

Sorry, but you can’t pay the bills with awesome.

Can CEOs tweet and improve the brand perception with customers? For sure, and there are many examples of this – Zappos and Virgin are two that spring to mind.

But they also had an incredible culture within the company too, that the CEO mandated as part of his Leader role. The true success of these brands, and others in the social space, is not that the CEO is tweeting – it’s that the CEO empowered others to be truly human in their interactions with customers.

The majority of customers don’t care if the CEO tweets or not – what they do care about is an excellent product, a fair price, and a superb experience both during and after the sale.

That kind of return is what the CEO is employed to achieve – and he or she employs the right people to do that, whether it’s in sales, HR, or social media. Getting that part right is the role of a CEO – not hovering about on Twitter in the hope of “being awesome”.

Something those that are advising a CEO what to do had they ever had the actual experience of what that incurs behind them.

Otherwise, continuing the same kumbaya conversation will only hurt in the long run, and then everybody loses. Especially business.

Note: My friend Jeff Esposito has a great post today on the same topic.

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