A boss’s Twitter following can do more harm than good to a business

Q: Need to business leaders be on Twitter? I realise we just cannot all have tens of millions of admirers like Elon Musk, but surely even a couple hundred followers can be excellent for networking, advertising and marketing and believed leadership?

A: Perhaps I built a error five several years ago when my grandson, Bede, aided me indicator up for Twitter. I assumed it was a brave shift but decided not to send out any tweets. So, so far, I have only two followers. I never know in which they came from – they have very little to abide by. I proceed to restrict my penned feedback to this column and merely check out Twitter as a “stalker”, employing my account to examine up what other individuals are expressing about me on social media. 

There have been some sobering moments, specifically soon after my just one and only physical appearance on Problem Time, when a handful of tweeters applied colourful language to slate my overall performance. I have now turn out to be made use of to the occasional political activist making a sweeping and inaccurate assault on my believability, but, on equilibrium, the ability to see what is getting reported has been of advantage.

Twitter was particularly valuable when a tweet explained to me that I was speaking at an function on a various day from the just one in my diary. It has also served to see the responses posted by delegates immediately after attending one particular of my talks. Constructive criticism is practically constantly far more handy than generous praise.

In contrast, Timpson’s main government, my son James, has a incredibly lively Twitter account, with a lot more than 131,000 followers. Various years back, he determined tweeting was a good way to spread his information about our business. At initial, his tweets ended up principally aimed at our colleagues, but his words and phrases inevitably commenced to be picked up by a considerably wider audience. We have not marketed in the press or on Television set for a lot more than 30 a long time, but James’s Twitter account has become an great substitute.

His tweets reward from currently being actually personalized. They’re snippets from his day by day experience, with no trace of any professional community relations corporation pulling strings in the background. Typically supported by a image or two, James documents some of his shop visits, describing star frontline colleagues and a couple exclusive prospects. It emphasises the important part individuals participate in in our business enterprise and the importance of heroic shopper provider.

Tweets describing his prison visits helped to reveal why above 10pc of our recruits are ex-offenders. A new tweet about Laura’s appointment as our “menopause champion” led to her shelling out the future a few days responding to requests to seem on radio and Television set – good information for us and even far better news for the menopause lobby.

Fortuitously, James has loads of stories to convey to, like our absolutely free dry cleaning for clients likely for a job interview and birthdays off for each individual colleague. But when making use of Twitter, retain your fingers crossed issues have been recognized to go terribly improper.

The content material is significant. With a limit of 280 characters, each and every word matters. Often remember that it only takes a second for your message to be handed on to hundreds (or even hundreds of thousands) of persons. Before urgent “Tweet”, reread your update and verify for typos and spelling blunders. Acquiring just one misplaced letter in phrases like “shot” and “price” can result in an harmless message to go viral for all the completely wrong good reasons.

Although lots of tweeters brag about an enormous quantity of followers, that shouldn’t be the main objective for main executives. They should generally be in a position to demonstrate that their tweets are very good for small business. Owning stated that, I’m very guaranteed that a private tweet from the boss’s desk is significantly far more useful than any social media made by a advertising and marketing agency.

It would be remiss of me to compose about social media with out mentioning some of the problems it can generate. Very last 12 months, I was speaking to a GP about some of the important modifications she was encountering in her practice. Without having hesitation, she talked about her worry with teenage psychological well being complications caused by an greater use of social media. It is a pressing dilemma for dad and mom who did not increase up with Twitter, Fb, TikTok or Instagram – all platforms that their youngsters now usually use in the bed room, late into the night time. As a consequence of our dialogue, we wrote a “Guide to Teenage Psychological Health” (free of charge copies are available in most of our stores).

We are frequently studying that the large positive aspects of electronic know-how appear with a couple of unwelcome outcomes. Main executives as nicely as adolescents ought to be on their guard: an military of followers could do a lot more hurt than good.


Sir John Timpson is chairman of the large-street products and services provider, Timpson.

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