I was curious to find out how IT executives viewed Twitter. I wondered whether, as a group of technologists, they were early adopters of this business/social tool. I suspected that they were not. And I wanted to know what those who did use Twitter used it for.
In a survey conducted by Diamond Management & Technology Consultants, 200 IT chiefs were asked a range of questions about their use of Twitter. With 75 CIOs responding,78% used Twitter at least once a week, 50% tweeted more this year than last, and 70% established new working relationships as a result of using Twitter.
The picture that emerges, both from the survey as well as the Webinar discussion, is that there are some CIOs who are evangelists and build Twitter into their daily life, some who dabble in it, and some who hardly use it at all.
Perhaps it's the hybrid nature of the tool - inviting personal and social info as well as business content - that holds some CIOs back. Perhaps it's because - for the 22% who hardly use it if at all - Twitter has been a renegade tool that started as one thing and evolved rapidly and in surprising and unpredictable ways, well beyond the vision of the founders and out of their control. Not a growth pattern apt to appeal to all C-level execs!
For those who do use it, how important is Twitter in promoting their personal brand? To find the answer, look at the top 5 reasons CIOs tweet:
- To follow news that impacts my job 91.7%
- To learn best practices from other CIOs 75.0%
- To position myself as a thought leader 67.7%
- To share news about my company with outsiders 55.6%
- To socialize with friends 48.6
So personal branding ranks a strong 3rd and company branding ranks 4th. Also, the CIOs indicated that advancing their capabilities on the job (and presumably as an IT executive brand) was the most important reason (see top 2 spots).
Do you remember when Twitter was mostly about "What are you doing" and people would tweet about where they were having lunch etc.? This CIO survey indicates the distance Twitter use has come from those simple beginnings.
To be able to grow your personal brand for free and for 140 characters at a time is a pretty good deal! And managers and professionals in all functions and industries are advancing their personal brands inadvertantly, just by learning more, sharing their own expertise, and demonstrating the kind of commitment they bring to their work
One of the CIOs said he views Twitter as great tool for cross-pollinating ideas up and down the organization - kind of like "servant leadership," he said. I think he means that the top executives can learn from the front-line technologists as well as vice versa. This is another testament to the democratization that the Web has enabled. This opinion is a very telling piece of that CIO's personal and career brand as well. Certainly not an attitude found everywhere among bosses.
The 3 top knowledge areas CIOs gained information in were technology, innovation, and strategy. The latter 2 at least are in no way lower-level learning and are, in fact, critical areas that an IT leader needs to be out in front of if s/he's going to continue to build a career!
It's hard to escape the implications of the survey that Twitter can be an important personal branding tool. And that avoiding using it can mean missing out on an opportunity to become known for what you do best, stay current with leading-edge thought in your field, and demonstrate your own unique style and "take" on your world. B thr or b sq.