Twitter Australia MD, Karen Stocks, says executives shouldn't leave tweeting to the young people in the company.
“I often get questions from very influential people saying, why would I tweet? I've got young people in my organisation that do all that social stuff, why do I need to? I've got nothing interesting to say,” Stocks said during a presentation hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia.
“There are millions of moments and opportunities for you to engage in the platform, and I encourage you to think differently about how you might use it to your benefit.”
The presentation covered how the live, public and conversational nature of Twitter can help extend the reach of messages and serve as a valuable tool for executives to maximise leadership success.
Stocks explained how executives should consider themselves a thought leader on a stage, with an audience waiting to hear from them.
“People want to hear your voice, the question is whether you’re going to get up on that stage and speak to them. You’re the first and last voice of your business and people want to hear it,” said Stocks.
Changing media consumption
The audience was compelled to recall how, in the pre-Twitter world, major events such as man walking on the moon or the fall of the Berlin Wall were first heard about through the evening news or the next morning’s paper thanks to journalists on the ground.
Meanwhile, more recent events like the tragic Boston Bombings are known about almost immediately with updates in real-time, from regular people at the scene tweeting photos and updates.
“We’re seeing a combination of the press working with people on the ground and creating great stories by combining all the different perspectives. It’s changed the way media is being reported, and the way people are consuming information.”
Stocks said her own ‘aha’ moment was during the #Batkid phenomenon in November last year, during which social media exploded in response to efforts by San Francisco’s Make A Wish Foundation to grant a 5-year old leukaemia patient his wish of being Batman.
Reasons to join the conversation
Stocks explained that to remain connected, execs need to realise the conversation going on without them involves their customers, their partners and employees and is therefore entirely relevant to them.
She cited examples of business leaders who had demonstrated their influence through the use of Twitter, including Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Tim Cook and Rupert Murdoch. Though representing the business, Stocks said don’t be afraid to show your human side, as people prefer relatable figures.
“People often come to me saying they don’t want to share their personal life. But personal is about what you define it to be. Something you're comfortable sharing, for example hobbies. If you love sport, talk about that,” she says.
Adding your own perspective on certain articles, concepts and events is a great way to show what influences you, and Twitter is also a great platform for public shout-outs or sharing praise about clients, partners or employees, said Stocks.
“Don't underestimate the power of public shout-out to foster positive connections.”
Planning your tweets
Though frequenting Twitter will engage audiences and open up useful dialogues, Stocks encourages execs to take some time out from technology when it suits them, saying "it's okay if you need a 12-hour break".
Instead, an outline of what you'll tweet each day of the week can help execs to keep on top of their social media presence. Stocks suggested the following guide:
- Monday - tweet about what you're reading (a great article, etc.)
- Tuesday - tweet about something behind the scenes at your company
- Wednesday - enter the conversation, see what discussions are taking place and add your two cents
- Thursday - share the media spotlight; there’s always something in the press around your business
- Friday - focus on your people, give a shout-out to a person or a team ("thank you Fridays")
Stocks also encourages execs to share photos and videos as much as possible as they make a tweet up to five times more engaging.
Lastly, for those executives that are still unsure and want more detail, Stocks referred to a BBC Capital article by Lucy Marcus on the dos and don'ts of tweeting.