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Three Reasons Why Your CEO Should Stay The Hell Away From Twitter

A Snarketing post by Ron Shevlin, Director of Research at Cornerstone Advisors

In just the latest example of bad writing, twisted logic, and unsupported-by-metrics preaching, an article titled 4 Reasons Why Your CEO Should Be On Twitter posits that there are — you guessed it! — 4 reasons why CEOs should tweet:

1. Save lives.
2. Gain feedback.
3. Set the record straight.
4. Be authentic.

Typical of lousy social media guru writing, the reasons are a mishmash of anecdotes, rationale, and recommendations.


Save lives? Really?

Well, I guess if your company makes toilet paper, and your CEO tweets about how much TP to use, and, as a result, someone uses less TP, then that person might avoid clogging the toilet, which could cause the house to explode, and thereby avoid killing that person in the process. Oh, and he probably saved the life of a tree or two.

And I really shouldn’t downplay the opportunity for your CEO to get feedback on the multi-axis vibration isolators your firm manufactures from the three people crazy enough to follow your CEO on Twitter. Getting feedback from a representative sample of customers is SO over-rated.

Setting the record straight on Twitter?

For sure, a worthy idea. But it could backfire. But the problem here is the unchallenged assumption behind the recommendation from too many SMorons. Namely, that Twitter is the only place to “set the record straight.” There is a bias that SM gurus have that lead them to think — despite the fact that a minority of people actually use Twitter — that if a company doesn’t respond to an issue through Twitter it has failed in its attempt to address the issue.

The fourth “reason” for a CEO to be on Twitter isn’t really a reason, so I don’t how to respond to it. 


Let me give you three good reasons why your CEO should stay the hell away from Twitter:

3. S/he has nothing to say. There’s enough meaningless crap spewed through Twitter every second of the day. Your CEO does not need to add to the clutter with mindless marketing messages, or impersonal “thank yous” to followers for their business. 

2. Your customers aren’t on Twitter. It never fails to amaze me that the SM gurus preach that “CEOs should be on Twitter” but never qualify the recommendation by stating the types of companies whose CEOs should be tweeting (and yet, they’re the first to talk about “personalization,” “customization,” and how “one size doesn’t fit all”). If the key people your company interacts with, and sells to, aren’t on Twitter, then there’s little impetus for your CEO to be on Twitter. 

And the #1 reason why your CEO should avoid Twitter at all costs, even if you argue away #3 and #2 is….

1. S/he has better things to do with his/her time. SMorons apparently believe that: 1) the CEO the only senior exec worthy of speaking for a company on Twitter,and 2) the CEO is probably sitting around doing nothing looking for things to tweet about.  Yeah, right.


So does this mean that no CEOs should be tweeting? 

Of course not. It’s a matter of personal preference, style, and interest. The point is that mindless preaching that CEOs should be tweeting, without qualifying which CEOs should be doing it, is bad advice. Shut up SMorons!

Ron ShevlinRon Shevlin is Director of Research at Cornerstone Advisors. Get a copy of his best-selling book, Smarter Bank: Why Money Management is More Important Than Money Movement. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter at @rshevlin.

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  1. Good points. Love the response to number 1.

  2. I think you just saved my life with this post.

  3. For starters, the article you referenced was a bit ridiculous…those were weak reasons to consider having a CEO or person in the C-Suite using something like Twitter. I don’t blame you for laying into it a bit.

    There are cases to be made for many companies and industries to have a leader on social media as a spokesperson. For companies serving the banking industry, I don’t know if its the best medium. If your product is marketed to marketers, there is a very strong use of Twitter (from my findings) outside of the marketing people though, its pretty hit and miss which means there are certainly better ways to market your company.

    Many companies who’s CEO is on Twitter, especially the larger companies, are just using the CEOs name and its really just run by marketing. They really aren’t wasting their CEO’s time at all. They are really just using their name to get a message out to an audience that would listen a lot more to a CEO talk than a brand talk. I get the skepticism though…especially in reaching the banking industry.

  4. Ron,

    I couldn’t agree more. As the CEO of a startup company, I barely have enough time to keep track of what’s happening in the industry. But Twitter noise keeps growing. With Carl Icahn tweeting and raising APPL market cap by $20B in a day, you have to wonder where we are going with this medium.

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