No Forbes, CEOs should not “Facebook” or “Twitter”

Photo by ChrisL_Ak

Matthew Fraser and Soumitra Dutta write an ambiguous, bland, and wrong piece on Forbes.com about the need for CEOs to use Social Networking technologies.  Their seemingly decent argument cites Web 2.0 Evangelists (no one particular, just the “evangelists” in general) who apparently claim the following:

Web 2.0 evangelists, on the other hand, argue that social software can be used to boost productivity. They say it can facilitate an open-ended corporate culture that values transparency, collaboration and innovation. Most important, it can be an effective way to build a customer-centric organization that not only communicates authentically but also listens to customers and learns from that interaction.

Of course all this is true, but two of the examples they use, Blendtec CEO’s “Will it Blend” series, and Zappo’s CEO Twitter Feed, feel like a simple marketing channel.

Simply put, CEOs make a lot of money because they are good at managing talented people.

Average CEO of an S&P 500 company was $10.5 million in 2008

Say whatever you want about executive pay…but CEOs have unique skills and are therefore highly compensated.  At $10.5 million a year, and assuming no sleep, that’s about $1,200 an hour.  Shareholders demand that CEOs should focus on what they do best…

CEOs Would Need to Spend Many Hours Building Social Media Skills

It takes a decent amount of experience to use this technology authentically without sounding artificial.  And, the only way to do this is “learning by doing”.  So, if anyone says, “It only takes a couple of seconds to Tweet”, remind them that the best Twitter users are ones that have practiced writing pithy updates.

Johnathan Schwartz is the rare example of a CEO who can do this, but I suspect there is some ghost-writing behind this blog.

The Best CEOs Hire People Who Are Smarter Than They Are

Find a social media expert, apparently they’re everywhere.  But hire them and have them communicate to you like any other functional leader in your organization.  Find a strategic thinker who can drive change at all levels of the organization to impact your business objectives.  Don’t have a CEO spend their valuable time learning Social Media skills when they are experts in the much rarer skills of Management.

2 Responses to “No Forbes, CEOs should not “Facebook” or “Twitter””

  1. Sevick - March 17, 2009

    I think both arguments are valid, but specific strategies will vary from company to company, and CEO to CEO. As with any marketing strategy, each situation is unique to given set of circumstances, but you should play to your strengths.

    Eventually it will become a requirement as more and more CEO candidates use social media as a tool to differentiate themselves. I’m counting the days until classes in social media start popping up in business schools across the country.

  2. Sevick - March 17, 2009

    I think both arguments are valid, but specific strategies will vary from company to company, and CEO to CEO. As with any marketing strategy, each situation is unique to given set of circumstances, but you should play to your strengths.

    Eventually it will become a requirement as more and more CEO candidates use social media as a tool to differentiate themselves. I’m counting the days until classes in social media start popping up in business schools across the country.

Leave a Reply