To Tweet or not to Tweet

“Should I be on Twitter?” is the most common question I hear from C-suite executives, keen to make sure they are up with relevant trends, but not quite sure what to do themselves.

Leaders are bombarded with advice on how their firms should handle the digital world and the disruption it brings, but are not quite sure how that should involve them personally. Whether your business is already investing time and resources into this activity or considering doing so, you will want to understand whether the business’s efforts are productive and whether your personal involvement on social media is necessary to support and enhance them.

Which makes the question “should I be on Twitter?” an understandable one, but to answer it – and to effectively address those wider issues – requires answering three other questions:

– What is your leadership style?

– What is your learning style?

– What is your networking style?

Of these, leadership style is the most important. If leading by doing is an important part of your style and you want your staff to take social media seriously, there’s no better way to do so than by doing so directly yourself.

If you’re leadership style is different, you can get away with telling others to take it seriously without being seen to do so yourself. Otherwise, you need to take at least a dip into the social media world.

With regards to learning as with leadership, there is no right or wrong answer, but understanding yourself is key to making the right decision about your use of social media.

If more abstract styles of learning are your thing, then fine – you can get by without being a hands-on practitioner. But if you learn best by doing, then you need to try out social media for yourself – otherwise you will never get your head around what those retweet statistics or comment sentiment graphs mean.

Even if it’s some low-key tweeting about your favourite sports team or the occasional dip into LinkedIn, the experience of using the medium is enough to manage others effectively who are using it more intensively.

As for your networking style, social media, and Twitter in particular, can be very useful for recreating the sort of gentle banter that you can successfully have with neighbours in the queue for coffee at a conference. It is a great way of building new connections and keeping in intermittent touch with old connections if being brief yet informative or humorous is your thing.

As one trainee said to me at the end of a session on Twitter, “So this is a way for me to make up for not going to Oxford or Cambridge.” He was joking – but only partly. If you need to strengthen your networks and widen your acquaintances, then social media provide opportunities.

But if your job already brings you into regular contact with networking possibilities and if your style is more suited to in-depth lunches or a sporting social, then using social media becomes more of an optional extra.

So the wise response to “Should I be on Twitter?” is first to ask yourself these three questions. Get them right, and the Twitter question answers itself.

Mark Pack, Associate Director, Blue Rubicon

Image: Tweet via Shutterstock