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‘Should I be on Twitter?’ Advice for the digitally clueless

October 6, 2011

In my experience, senior executives have more in common than just a horror of public transport. They all want to know about this ‘social media thing’, and whether they should get on board with it.

I see a few things driving this interest. The primary one is simple FOMO (fear of missing out): they see everyone else on there and figure there must be something to it.

They also see it as an opportunity to build their personal brand. Executives live in constant fear of losing their job, and constant hope of being headhunted for a better one – so having an online profile among potential employers is useful.

And of course (and this is the only reason anyone would actually admit to), they’d like it to help their business. Building a reputation and creating sales leads is crucial for most companies, and social media seems like a useful way to do that.

So when senior people ask me, ‘what should I be doing online?’, my answer is, ‘whatever you can commit to’. Because ultimately, managing an online profile is bloody hard work. And for most executives, it will be a labour, not a labour of love.

(And when you’re not enjoying something, it’s easy to neglect it. That’s why all those people join the gym, do two weeks on the cardio machines, then disappear forever).

So here are some home truths, which you can tell anyone who asks whether they should ‘get on Twitter’:

Writing a blog is about more than just writing. You need to read other blogs, share content, build a following, do a bunch of self-promotion and various other time-consuming things. Or of course, get your PR person to do it for you – but you’re gonna have to pay ’em for that, ok?

Don’t be fooled by the 140-character limit: Twitter requires time and effort. Much of its appeal (for grown-ups, not Justin Bieber fans) is that it leads you to other information. If you don’t have time (or make time) to read the interesting articles or blogs you find, then it’s kind of pointless.

LinkedIn is public and professional – put some damn effort into it. I looked up the managing director of one my clients the other day, and his LinkedIn profile was nothing more than a few generic lines. Not even a photo. Dude, that is the first place any potential client is going to check you out! Even if you don’t hang out on it every day, make sure you have a half-decent and reasonably recent profile on LinkedIn.

‘I don’t have time’ is a rubbish excuse. Plenty of tools make it easier to manage all your profiles and information – I use Tweetdeck, for example. If you invest time into understanding these tools (often with the help of a smart young GenY), it all becomes much more manageable. What people really mean is, ‘I don’t have any interest in doing it’. Which is fine – but let’s all just be honest about it.

Social media is about listening, not just talking. How annoying are those people who talk about themselves non-stop, without pausing for anyone else’s input? Well, that’s the same as simply pushing out your content – and people will get bored of you. Spend time commenting, being interested, re-tweeting, sharing – you want a conversation, not a monologue.

What, you don’t have time for all that business? See dot point above!

Like this post? Send it on, share it (or just provide heartfelt words of praise in the comment section).



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  1. Esther permalink

    So often this blog makes me laugh in the first line. And then to top it off a thoughtful post follows! Thanks Belinda.

    • Aww shucks. Thank you. I must say, I had great fun making up that first line – there were sooo many things I could have written… ‘a love of cufflinks and Herringbone shirts’, or ‘a predilection for living in the Eastern suburbs’… well I shouldn’t say too much since they are my clients 🙂

  2. Heartfelt words of praise. Really. Simply but eloquently put.

  3. … or “disgust at the thought of travelling economy class”.

    The thing about online presence is, from a dinosaur’s perspective, keeping it up to date. It’s not like Commonwealth Bank shares, putting them in the bottom drawer. It’s possibly worse to be online and out-dated than not to be in cyberspace at all. So keep it all current, or don’t even bother.

  4. This is priceless. Especiall love ‘FOMO’ and ‘Executives live in constant fear of losing their job, and constant hope of being headhunted for a better one’.

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