ImageWhy is it that 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs do not tweet yet?

That’s what a report issued out last year and featured on InformationWeek.com says. It goes deeper than just Twitter however, as these same CEOs are noted to spend much less time participating in social networking than the average non-CEO person does – and when they do hit up the networks, they spend the most time on LinkedIn.

One of my first moves as a social media manager was to get the CEO of the company I work for, Deborah Sweeney, squared away on the tweeting scene with her own personal Twitter account. Lucky for me, she already had a Twitter handle, but as anyone worth their Klout score can tell you, Twitter is all about engaging with others on a near-daily basis which works to build up both yourself and your brand online. Perhaps this is why CEOs aren’t drawn to Twitter on the same level as most people are – tweeting takes more time than it looks like it does and there’s always the fear that the wrong phrase or wording might slip out to a readily waiting and retweeting audience well into the hundreds of thousands.

Rather than focus on the “what ifs?” of the Twittersphere, it’s better to focus on the benefits that these 140 characters can give to CEOs whether they work in Fortune 500 companies or not. Coax your CEO slowly but surely into the world of hashtags and fail whales with these tips!

Tell Them It’s Where the Customers Are At

I’m not stretching the truth by any means with this one. CEOs may be more reluctant to join Twitter because they can’t see just how much of a return on investment their having and maintaining a presence there can afford them. In truth, no CEO’s presence goes unnoticed online – you build the Twitter account and the followers will come. Thousands of which are customers and fans of the brand.

Josh James, CEO of Domo.com, is fully in my camp when he writes that social media is here to stay and that CEOs need to get on board with networking online, “The primary reason you have to be social is because that is where your customer lives. Even if you are not leveraging it to close business and interact with your customers, you have to spend enough time online to at least understand the shift in the world. This lack of engagement would be similar to 50% of the world using email with F500 CEOs holding out; or 50% of your customers shopping online but no CEOs trying it.”

Get on Twitter, get tweeting, get with your customers and interact with them faster and on a human level.

You’ll Become a Person This Way

When the abbreviation for CEO comes to mind, we often imagine someone who sits in a private office at the 96th floor of a skyscraper, seemingly overlooking the world below it which from way up high looks very small. The great thing about Twitter is that no matter how many followers one may have, we’re all grounded on the same site. We all use the same hashtags, tweet silly thoughts or links out to the world, and create clever bios.

For a CEO, this is the time to get on our Twitter level and give a corporation (the bigger, the better) a face and name behind the brand. And most importantly, a story. A look at what life behind the scenes at the company is like as told through Instagram photos. Tweets highlighting the accomplishments of the team by @ mentioning various members on their good work. Even talking about yourself (you, yes, you) from time to time and what you’re planning next for a company event coming up, a TV appearance to watch out for, or even hosting a Twitter Q&A session where followers can tweet questions and get them answered in real time. There is no private office on the 96th floor of a skyscraper here. On Twitter, everyone sits on the same floor and works side by side.

Let Them Know They Can Do It on Their Own Time

One of the biggest reasons why CEOs aren’t tweeting is because Twitter, and social networking as a whole, is a commitment. You’re committing your time and effort to the site as much as you would with the IRL (in real life) assignments you’re tasked with. Once you start, you can’t taper off and disappear. You have to keep it up! For some CEOs, this can be too much pressure and may wind up being passed off to someone within their social media department to take over. But for the majority, it’s important that if you want to get your CEO tweeting on a regular basis you need to remind them to do the tweeting on their own time. Encourage blocking off a half hour each day to devote to Twitter or installing the app on their iPhone to do it on the go. This accessibility doesn’t mean that CEOs have to feel pressured to update every hour on the hour to keep up with the Twitterverse either – doing that can easily lead to mistakes made. When a particularly newsworthy event happens or there’s a new product that they want to announce or hint at through social media before press releases hit the circuit, this is the time to get tweeting and to tweet at the pace that suits you best.

And don’t forget to follow and favorite! The feeling that you get when a big brand or person follows you online is already incredible, but when they also favorite what you’re doing? Cloud 9 status. CEOs on Twitter have the ability to make anyone’s day – and all it takes is hitting that little gold star just once on a tweet.

image: ceo tweeting/shutterstock