For those who believe that social media is a powerful tool to connect and engage with audiences across the web, what might be interesting is the activity of Indian CEOs on Twitter. Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that compels you to be concise. Unlike on a blog where you are free to write endlessly, with no limitation on word or character count, Twitter only allows 140 characters. An ideal number for CEOs who are already pressed for time, don’t you think?
In May 2013, The Times of India shed light on the top CEOs to follow on Twitter based on the first-ever ranking produced by CEO Guru. The only Indian who made the list was Anand Mahindra, Chairman and Managing Director, Mahindra Group. Judging by this, should we be content with only one Indian CEO being in the top 5 list produced by CEO Guru? Or should we wonder why some of our top CEOs are failing to use Twitter to connect with people?
It might be pertinent to point out some of the CEO Guru’s findings. Only 2.5% of CEOs are active on Twitter; while this number is minuscule, the few who can be described as early-movers are making quite an impact. The ranking was based on the quality of the CEOs’ tweets: whether they are simply talking about themselves and their companies, or offering genuine leadership and industry insights; how they are engaging with hot topics and influencers, and whether they are actually writing the tweets themselves.
A CEO should be on Twitter, primarily because he is the face of the company and its best brand ambassador. Using Twitter augments image building measures and tweeting about the company, its initiatives, testing products, seeking feedback and commenting on economic trends gives a personal touch to the corporate structure that the CEO heads. Many start-up founders are using Twitter as a beta testing medium, giving their Twitter followers a preview of their products and collecting feedback. It’s time Indian CEOs actively did something in this direction.
A quick search on Twitter threw up just a handful twitter handles by Indian CEOs. The most active after Anand Mahindra was Vijay Mallya, Chaiman of the UB Group whose tweets are a good mix of business, cricket, Formula I and the economy. The other CEO whose Twitter handle has some activity was Cyrus Mistry, with tweets that were a mix of business and personal quirks.
Anand Mahindra tweets about a variety of issues, like reviews of Mahindra automobiles and bikes, mergers like the MSAT TechM merger, education, T20 cricket and personal things– like bungee jumping, which used to be on his must do list but is no longer present. His most recent tweet was commending the rescue efforts currently underway in Uttarakhand.
His tweets are a good mix of issues to keep people engaged and interested in tweeting with him. Vijay Mallya tweets about the New Sahara Force India e-shop, T20 cricket, Formula One, betting, corruption and even the adjournment of the parliament. His tweets reflect the many roles he plays, an MP, business tycoon and sports investor. On the other hand, Cyrus Mistry’s tweets cover the weather, like Mumbai’s first shower, his favorite actor, alerts about his Facebook photos, quotes and business related issues like the Tata Safari.
Other than those mentioned above, there was virtually nothing that Indian CEOs seemed to be doing on Twitter. Narayana Murthy, now back in the saddle at Infosys, has just 2 tweets and the only Sunil Bharti Mittal I could find on Twitter had a profile describing him as an entrepreneur from Mumbai with 0 Tweets (so I’m wondering whether this is Mr. Mittal’s profile to begin with).
Who are the International Biggies on Twitter?
Coming back to the CEO Guru findings, we find Richard Branson at number 1, Rupert Murdoch at number 2, Jeff Weiner at number 3, Anand Mahindra at number 4 and Eric Schimdt at number 5.The CEOs who are actively using Twitter all head some of the biggest corporations in the world.
What Can Indian CEOs Learn From Them?
Make time to Tweet! Branson, Murdoch, Weiner and Schmidt have realized that tweets have to be short, so are easier to write. One doesn’t have to worry about drafting long posts and can post your message instantly with greater frequency. Besides that it is helps you hear what your customers say about your brand and is an effective brand monitoring tool.
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