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How involved should your CEO be in your social media presence?

3 min read


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

This week, we asked: Do you think CEOs should be on Twitter? The results:

  • Yes 68.80%
  • No 31.20%

This week’s question is tricky, because there’s a world of difference between tweets written by your CEO and tweets “written” by your CEO. The first one takes up a fair amount of time and is a reasonably accurate, maybe even unfiltered portrayal of the man or woman running the show. The other may involve just minimal consultation with the CEO and is more likely to reflect corporate values that may or may not align with the CEO’s personal views. You might be expecting me to tell you that one or the other is a huge waste of time. But the truth is that either model can be successful — depending on what kind of CEO you’ve got.

Some CEOs are great writers. Some have visionary ideas. Some can inspire others with their personal ethos. But most CEOs — heck, most people in any line of work — don’t fit all three criteria. And that’s OK. Your CEO’s involvement in your communications strategy depends on what sort of person she or he is. Maybe the CEO shapes the message but hires writers to nail the language down. Maybe they take ideas from other parts of the company and add their personal voice to a first draft of another writer’s copy. Maybe they just lead the company in a way that informs the brand and that branding becomes the basis for content. Your CEO’s level of involvement is only wrong when 1) it takes his or her eye off the ball or 2) results in terrible content.

Let’s be real: Both of those risks are very plausible if your social media presence isn’t designed properly. You could easily wind up with a CEO neglecting more important matters, saying inappropriate things or failing to grasp basic social media principles. But those aren’t reasons to keep your CEO in the dark. At least in theory, no one should know your company and what it’s all about better than your CEO. Great leaders live their brand — or maybe great brands emulate great leaders. The point is that it’s worth getting your CEO involved in crafting your online presence, as long as you have safeguards in place to keep the process from going off the rails.