Tweeting while naked

Not literally naked. Good lord, no.
But figuratively speaking – as in the Emperor’s new clothes.
There was a story circulating last week about how few CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are active on twitter – 19 of the 500 have accounts and only nice actually tweet regularly.  This low take-up of twitter can be linked to $1.3 trillion of missed revenue opportunities, apparently.
Unlike one member of my family, I am not a mathematician. But even I know a trillion of anything is a lot. So, when someone starts talking about $1.3 trillion and links that with tweeting, you can be certain lots of publicity will follow.
Wow. Only 19 of the Fortune 500 have a CEO on twitter, and only nine of those are active.
Wow. $1.3 trillion in missing revenues.
Wow. What a bunch of bozos those CEOs must be. It’s a wonder they haven’t all gone to the wall, isn’t it..?
It’s all nonsense. Furthermore, its misleading, dangerous and self-serving.
What I see from this report is that 491 of the Fortune 500 are getting along nicely without their CEO being paraded around like some superannuated Aunt Sally.
I can’t think – off the top of my head – of any other genre or sector where research can be so blithely turned on its head in an attempt to convince us all that black is white. Nor a sector where so many seemingly bright and capable people are duped so easily – and so frequently – into believing social media will save us all… that if we tweet a bit more, like a bit more somehow businesses will gain a financial reward.
Maybe… if they’re in the business of charging simpletons for wafer-thin research and hokey advice on social media. Otherwise, nah.. there’s no direct causal link between tweets, likes and sales.
There’s more to social media than Twitter and Facebook, I hear some of you cry. Well, of course there is. But we all know where the concentration of traffic, investment and attention lie.
I saw something else recently that said the ‘marketing function’ within businesses was now redundant because of social media. I can only presume that was written by someone who once had marketing explained to them briefly and promptly forgot most of what they’d heard.
Which brings me back to the naked thing.
There are so many flaws in these kinds of report they remind me of sixth form magazine journalism. All posture and opinion, no facts and bugger all evidence.
If you recall the childhood fable, the reason you can see the Emperor’s bum because he’s not wearing any trousers. Not because you aren’t special enough to be able to see the magic cloth.
The continued insistence by some in the comms world that social media (note, ‘social media’ not ‘digital communications’) and in particular the use of twitter is one of the great business transformers of our age is misguided.
Social, in all it’s multi-platformed glory, might be relatively new, but it’s not so new that there hasn’t been time to try it out, use it and see what it’s good for.
It’s good for chatting to people, sharing stuff, issuing vouchers or running competitions. It’s amazing for cat videos going viral, and for giving customers a variety of ways with which to broadcast how much they hate your shitty products and crappy customer service.
It’s good for off-piste online dating activities, and for pretending to be something you’re not.  (hello bored married people wherever you may be).
Not so good at helping any kind of business-to-business transaction though.
Otherwise it wouldn’t be so hard to find actual case studies of businesses (that you’ve heard of) deriving actual ROI from their use of Facebook, twitter and gawd knows what else.
Before you say anything, yes… I know it works better for businesses selling to consumers. But even then, it’s generally acting as an adjunct to existing marcomms tactics and the extent to which it is used well depends on the creativity of those responsible for its use.
The more of us that push back on the nonsense and deploy a little critical thinking, the better.