Published: April 21, 2009
Social media has obviously given voice to employees in ways that never existed before. Early corporate bloggers were often brand enthusiasts themselves and tended to “get” the brand a gut level; soon enough, voice and tone guidelines became more actively put in play to govern blog writing. But Twitter is different. The nature of the medium encourages users to transmit an interchangeable mix of musings about life, work, daily observations and whatever else. Employees on Twitter are either designated brand ambassadors or simply have personal accounts — and these lines of distinction help offer guidance. But that line grays with the advent of the “C-Tweet.” C-level execs are part-lead ambassador, part-celebrity. Twitter accounts can build a cult of personality and extend a dynamic that has long existed for top CEOs into a broader set of C-level executives.
Among C-level execs, Twitter holds an allure as a seemingly simple vehicle to communicate thought leadership while staying connected to the market. Yet a daily supply of profundities in 140-character increments is a lot harder to pull off than it sounds. One natural obstacle blogs offered was the demand to actually have to write. Twitter is much less intimidating — and the immediacy and ostensible intimacy of the platform may suggest that it is perfectly alright for executives to say things ranging from “Wow that was a delicious hamburger! Jalapenos, yum” to “Holding firm in my negotiations with Yahoo right now.” And herein lies the greatest challenge of the C-Tweet: Where does the voice of the brand end and the voice of the individual begin?