Monday, February 16, 2009

Twitter and CEOs

Thanks to Theo Huibers for pointing out to an article in Forbes about Why Europe's CEOs should Twitter.

The article reports that unlike their counterpart in the USA, the CEOs of European companies are being slow in embracing the Twitter tool. In general, the article argues that European chief executives are not very aware of the benefits of social networking tools to their businesses, missing out on opportunities to engage with their customers.

If this is true, than this is rather worrying. Indeed, I can easily see many scenarios where social networking tools such as Twitter could be helpful for businesses. The Forbes article mentions several of these. For example, a case where the public relations office of General Motors has used Twitter to clamp down on rumours affecting the company. In his blog, Daniel Tunkelang reported a first-hand experience, when one of his technical questions posted on Twitter received care from the president and COO of, albeit with a degree of attention that goes beyond what Daniel bargained for.

It is of interest to note that the Forbes article suggests that the Twitter's interface is still too complex for a widespread adoption by end-users and businesses. While I have only been an occasional user of Twitter, I have never had the feeling that the tool was difficult to use. However, I'm happy to stand corrected by HCI experts!


Daniel Tunkelang said...

For what it's worth, I did ultimately become a GoDaddy customer. Not sure if that was because of the Twitter attention or their Super Bowl ads. :-)

Seriously, I agree with you that, even if some of the social networking tools and social norms are still growing up, it's clear that the concept is here to stay. If European executives are behind in adopting them, they would be wise to at least learn more about them.

Iadh Ounis said...


Indeed, I would have thought that all executives should be aware of the opportunities that new social networking tools offer in terms of marketing and public relations.

On the other hand, being a regular twitterer yourself and given your interest in HCI in general and HCIR in particular, would you agree with the Forbes article's suggestion that the Twitter tool is difficult to use by non-geeks?

Daniel Tunkelang said...

There I'm with you--the basic interface is certainly easy enough to use, even for a CEO! More sophisticated use of Twitter might be harder, but that's true of many communication devices. Lots of office workers fumble to use their phones' conference features. That doesn't stop them for making and receiving phone calls.

I think the larger barrier for Twitter use is that people need to learn how to use it effectively and thus overcome the objection that it's a waste of time. We've had some time to learn how to use email more effectively--though even there we've got some work to do. I think we're a bit further behind when it comes to conversation-oriented online communication.