Why CIO’s should be on Twitter

Twitter LogoRecently Vala Afshar wrote an article on The Huffington Post called “The Top 100 Most Social CIOs on Twitter 2014” which got me thinking – why do I use Twitter?

Many people ask me how I have time to post to social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. They also voice security concerns or worry about their company’s social media policies. But mostly they just say “what would I say?” They think it is just a waste of time with a lot of people tweeting about where they are or what they are doing. Seriously, what possible value could come from 140 characters anyway? I know this from my conversations with others and from personal experience – I thought that too!  I was wrong.

You should be on Twitter if for no other reason than it will enable you to experience social networking first-hand. One of my pet peeves is people who pontificate on new technologies but have never actually used them. This is particularly annoying among CIOs whose responsibility is to understand new technologies but for some reason dismiss “consumer technologies” like Twitter without actually trying them.

So, why do I participate on Twitter? The short answer is I make time because I get more out of it then I put into it. Here’s why I tweet and why other CIOs and senior IT executives should consider it.

It will help you stay connected to fellow CIOs and thought leaders – This is one of the few technologies I’ve found that actually contributes to community building.  In today’s busy world, it’s difficult to keep up with others. Twitter offers an easy, low investment tool to network with CIOs by following them, retweeting them, or replying to their posts. Twitter makes it easy and fun.  It will introduce you to new colleagues. I have met several CIOs via Twitter that have contributed to my life in meaningful ways.

It will help you keep up with what people are talking about – Twitter is the best way to find out about breaking news and topics you care about. Via Twitter, I have learned about emerging trends, hot books, cool software, great wines and even great restaurants.  Because the information is coming from real people who care enough to tweet about it, I have found it more valuable and authentic.

It will help you share knowledge with like-minded people – Most CIOs agree that an important part of their role is to teach and educate others about technology, information, and business process. So when I read a good article, I share it on Twitter so my followers can decide if it is worth their time. I become an “editor” of interesting stuff that fellow CIOs should also find interesting. I’ve developed more meaningful connections and learned from others that share common interests.

It can help build your personal “brand” – As a CIO, I am a leader with a voice that should reach my community. Though I tweet and add the disclaimer, “Opinions are my own and do not represent CAA”, my participation is thought leadership and promotes my personal brand. When people hear your name, what comes to mind?  What is your reputation?  What is the “brand promise”?  Brands are built incrementally, one interaction at a time.  Twitter gives you one more way to build your brand, one tweet at a time. It is a great way to drive people to your blog or web site too.

Don’t be afraid. You don’t have to tweet anything just set up an account and start following people. Twitter is very Darwinian in that you can unfollow people with a single click so the list of people you follow is always evolving based on the value of the tweets they post.  If someone is posting lots of low value tweets like “I’m at Starbucks”, “I’m watching this show”, then just unfollow them. It’s that easy. The converse it true. If you don’t post high value posts people will drop you in a flash.

So, if you’re a CIO or senior IT executive you owe it to yourself to give Twitter a try. I’ll bet you find that you get more out of it then you put into it. I know I did.

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About Michael Keithley
Digital Transformation CIO and Public Speaker. Previously, CIO at Creative Artists Agency

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