April 22, 2013 By FTI Consulting
Australian CEOs have been hearing it for years now – how important it is to establish a social media presence, particularly on Twitter, which needs to be consistently updated and genuinely reflect the “personality” of an executive.
The struggle for CEOs with Twitter is, of course, figuring out exactly what to tweet. Indeed the increasing complexity of disclosure requirements can be daunting, but the best CEOs can still find the time to tweet interesting and valuable content that doesn’t give their lawyers a headache.
ING Direct Australia CEO Vaughn Richtor recently said “I’ve tweeted my entire career.” Listening and having short conversations with people is what he does every day, so the “short, sharp” 140 character limit of Twitter came naturally.
Setting up a Twitter account is easy, but an inactive account is arguably worse than no account at all. Here are our suggestions for getting into the habit of tweeting and what to write about:
Start integrating Twitter into your workflow – install the Twitter app on your smartphone and start following your peers.Try to get in the habit of checking your feed in the same way you might check Facebook or your favourite news site (in fact nearly all major media organisations these days have a presence on Twitter, so your feed can be a natural place to start seeing breaking news).
Talk about what you’re doing and seeing – start thinking about what you’re saying and doing on a daily basis, and what you might be comfortable taking to a broader audience. Maybe you’re heading to a conference on consumer habits in Asia, rolling out a product enhancement, or reviewing your corporate and social governance standards. Twitter is a great way to communicate some of the “good news” you’d like to share but can’t put in a press release.
Of course, any company news, research or content can also easily be shared on Twitter (especially if you link to it using a URL shortener such at bit.ly). We also recommend tweeting occasionally on personal hobbies and interests to show your human side.
Feel free to retweet thoughtfully – now that you’re following other accounts, you’ll often stumble across a story or content which you’d like to share with your own followers. It’s easy to “retweet” and have the content appear on your own feed.
Be interesting without offending – think of Twitter as a very large dinner party where you know some but definitely not all of the guests. Your Twitter feed should reflect your business and management philosophy as well as your personality, but most importantly, it needs to be interesting. Be engaged with your audience, but try to avoid emotional subjects that aren’t your core business.
Use hashtags – the humble hashtag has become a powerful marker in the new media landscape. Placing a hashtag in front of a term (#ausbiz, to take a clear example) categorises your tweet with other relevant ones and helps them show up in searches.
Tellingly, just weeks ago the US securities regulator approved the use of the hashtag #USearnings for companies using Twitter to make earnings-related announcements. How’s that for the power of the hashtag?
For inspiration, we recommend checking out Twitter feeds from some of the below notable Australian CEOs: Woolworths Managing Director Tjeed Jegen(@tjeerdjegen), ABC’s Managing Director Mark Scott (@abcmarkscott), Aussie’s CEO Stephen Porges (@stephenporges) and Executive Chairman of Yellow Brick Road Wealth Management Mark Bouris (@MarkBouris).
Take a look at our Australian Executive Twitter list and add to it! https://twitter.com/FTIStratCommAU/australian-executives/members
For more ideas FTI Consulting has pulled together this CEO guide to Twitter infographic: