Should your CEO be on Twitter?

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This week’s biggest digital media story seems to be that over the Christmas break an eighty year old man decided to have a play around with that Twitter thing he’s heard so much about. This probably wouldn’t have caused quite so much of a stir had the octogenarian in question not been one of the world’s most powerful and controversial media barons.

Much has been made of this (and of the prankster who managed to convince Twitter that he/she was genuinely Murdoch’s wife, at least for a little while), but  the content of Murdoch’s tweets hasn’t really given us much insight into his professional life. A little idle chit chat, a few political opinions, a personal endorsement of his favourite Republican presidential candidate, nothing very surprising.

So what’s this all about? Many suspect that Murdoch’s appearance on Twitter is a calculated move, driven by PR, to show a more human side and repair some of the damage to his reputation following last year’s phone hacking scandal. Maybe, or maybe he’s still just trying to figure out what the big deal is about social media after his company’s disastrous dalliance with MySpace.

Either way, it seems very much as though he’s writing his own tweets rather than allowing his PR handlers to stage-manage the profile for him, which is commendable but risky, as his rapidly deleted tweet about “Broke Britain” demonstrated.

What can other CEOs learn from this, should they be tempted to venture onto Twitter to share their opinions with the world? It’s good to open up a little and let the world know what’s going on in your head, but only if the contents of your head are really worth sharing, and remember that it’s really, really important to apply your own common sense filter if you’re going to bypass the PR team to speak directly to your audience.

Above all, try to say something interesting, but be careful that you don’t say anything too interesting.

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the Text 100 UK blog.