Why would a high profile Chief Executive Officer need to make use of a microblogging system such as Twitter? Considering that their very words, sans the 140 character limit and bit.ly encoding, are already an accepted dictum in their respective organisations, what added benefit could a meager tweet further provide?
Maybe it’s the effectiveness of building on that all-important customer relationship model. Maybe it’s the necessity of engaging with employees and providing a more humane side to the otherwise mundane concrete corporate world. Or maybe it’s to expose products through a social company mouthpiece. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s all about waving aside that rigid business acumen and following that lovely intern you just hired in a non-spooky your-boss-is-stalking-you kind of way. Besides, Obama’s on Twitter.
Here’s our list of 13 CEOs worth following on Twitter:
- Sir Richard Branson: Virgin Group Chairman
Twitter username: @richardbranson
Followers: 814 357
Following: 6 413
Why to follow: Branson tweets regularly (at least once a day) on his current thoughts and activities, almost always tying his tweets to some or other Virgin property. He’s also been known to tweet about elephants.
- Bill Gates: Former Microsoft CEO
Twitter username: @billgates
Followers: 2 230 984
Why follow: One of the world’s wealthiest men is also the world’s biggest philanthropist and his tweets are inspiring musings. He avoids tweeting about Microsoft however.
- Eric Schmidt: Google CEO (up until 04 April 2011)
Twitter username: @ericschmidt
Followers: 255 364
Why follow: Despite his tweeting once every two weeks, it’s hard not to want to follow the (soon-to-be-former) Google CEO whose tweets are informative and useful.
- Jack Welch: Former GE CEO
Twitter username: @jack_welch
Followers: 1 303 455
Why follow: The former CEO of General Electric and a revolutionary on managerial strategy. Welch’s tweets range from links to business articles to his thoughts on movies, public figures and current events.
- Jason Calcanis: Mahalo.com Founder
Twitter username: @Jason
Followers: 109 958
Following: 40 857
Why follow: The entrepreneur and founder of mahalo.com has become an internet phenomenon with breaking news, press leaks and constant interactivity making his Twitter stream one of the most engaging.
- Tim O’ Reilly: Founder and CEO O’ Reilly Media
Twitter username: @timoreilly
Followers: 1 444 252
Why follow: O’ Reilly aims to ‘redistribute the future’ by paying attention to people at the edge, the ‘alpha geek’ and judging by his tech-centric Twitter stream and number of followers, O’ Reilly Media’s CEO is a definite Twitter ‘must-follow‘.
- Martha Stewart: Martha Stewart Living
Twitter username: @marthastewart
Followers: 2 130 956
Following: 8 236
Why follow: The American business woman and media magnate’s Twitter page often suffers from simple spelling mistakes and grammatical errors – a welcome indication of the picture-perfect stereotype.
- Evan Williams: Twitter Founder
Twitter username: @ev
Followers: 1 299 693
Following: 1 287
Why follow: Well, this list would be incomplete without including at least one of the Twitter co-founders. Williams’ stream is laid-back and lighthearted – a tribute to the days when CEOs were just a bunch of geeky guys in a small rented office space.
- Guy Kawasaki: Alltop Co-Founder
Twitter username: @guykawasaki
Followers: 314 395
Following: 305 508
Why follow: Using Twitter as a broadcasting tool, Kawasaki is keen on promoting Alltop, the content aggregator he helped found. His tweets (often managed by his employees) range from social media & technology to business niches and advice.
- Craig Newmark: Founder of Craiglists.com
Twitter username: @craignewmark
Followers: 33 185
Why follow: Okay so Newmark retweets a lot and loves to tweet his location via Foursquare. But the Craigslist CEO also interacts with his followers and as @Alliebug74 ‘s first grade school found out, has been known to donate generously.
- Diane Hesson: Communispace CEO
Twitter username: @communispaceCEO
Followers: 12 491
Following: 9 816
Why follow: Hessan uses Twitter as a vehicle for getting information about Communispace into the marketplace fast. Which pretty much sums up the strategy of most Twitter CEOs on our list.
- George Colony: CEO Forrester Research
Twitter username: @gcolony
Followers: 8 754
Why follow: Colony’s Twitter stream manages to pull the right mix of tech, entrepreneurial and business related tweets and tie them directly to his personal blog on forrester.com
- Doug Ulman: CEO of the Lance Armstrong Foundation
Twitter username: @livestrongCEO
Followers: 995 767
Following: 38 217
Why follow: Ulman’s Twitter stream is filled with feel-good, inspirational tweets, as you would expect from the CEO of a cancer non-profit organisation.