Is Twitter Really Useful for Executives?

In 2008 social networks really took off. It was the year that Facebook exploded, reaching over 200 million unique visitors. Fast forward to 2010, and it is clear that although Facebook continues to grow, Twitter has stolen the limelight. In 2009 Twitter grew to a network of over 20 million users, and contrary to popular belief, the majority were in fact not teenagers.

At Chirp, the official Twitter developer conference in May 2010, Twitter shared some revealing stats about its site, users, and growth that had previously been kept under wraps. Here's a summary of the facts and figures Twitter shared:

  • Twitter now has 105,779,710 registered users.
  • New users are signing up at the rate of 300,000 per day.
  • 180 million unique visitors come to the site every month.
  • 75% of Twitter traffic comes from outside (i.e. via third party applications.)
  • Twitter gets a total of 3 billion requests a day via its API.
  • Twitter users are, in total, tweeting an average of 55 million tweets a day.
  • Twitter's search engine receives around 600 million search queries per day.
  • Of Twitter's active users, 37 percent use their phone to tweet.
  • Over half of all tweets (60 percent) come from third party applications.
  • Twitter itself has grown: in the past year alone, it has grown from 25 to 175 employees.

The use of Twitter by executives is part of a larger trend of these senior-level candidates venturing further into the online networking space. Considering executive recruiters rely on social and business networks to source talent for senior executive opportunities (from retained search to job postings), having a strong online presence has become essential for any senior professional. Establishing online visibility leverages and extends professional credibility, enhances personal reputation, and builds company visibility and brand. Social and business networking has arrived at the executive level, yet with the many social platforms and web technologies available, it is hard to define the methods needed to achieve results.

Online branding expert and career coach Patti Wilson highlights a key problem with many senior executive attitudes towards online networking and how Twitter is gaining increasing prominence,
"Most professionals typically replicate their resume on their LinkedIn profile, add some connections, request a few recommendations, and call their online marketing efforts done. As we move into 2010 however, people are now realizing the potential of Twitter for conducting an executive job search and business networking, and for more long term executive career management."

 Using Twitter for the Competitive Edge

Executive job searching and job posting on Twitter has become increasingly popular, so tech-savvy executives might be able to pick up some quick leads and job opportunities before the masses catch on. At present, this is not the best use for Twitter, as most senior executive jobs (especially in retained executive search) would not appear in a Twitter job posting feed.  However, the absence of a posted job description does not mean there are no executive job opportunities at your target company. To quote an overused statistic, 70-80% of jobs are found through networking. Twitter has simply become an extension of this reality, as networking is increasingly conducted online.

So how can you get to these ‘hidden’ executive job opportunities using Twitter? Well, a Senior HR Manager may update their personal contacts with the news that they are beginning the search for a new VP of Marketing, in the hope that a contact can suggest a viable candidate. While it is not a specific job post, with this information you can politely put yourself forward for the role or ask for a recommendation by a mutual contact.

Twitter can also become a rich source of industry and company information. Many corporations in a wide variety of industries are following social media trends by setting up dedicated Twitter accounts. Use Twitter to get closer to your targeted list of potential future employers, or follow your current competitors to stay up to date with the latest industry news and information. You can take this a step further by following the personal accounts of particular high level executives, as their work developments are likely to spill over into their personal accounts - and of course a number of those CEO profiles you see are often managed (or at least advised) by social media professionals, as they are an extension of the company’s brand.

Two way conversations

The best way to use Twitter is to interact within your industry or target market. Building a network of fellow industry enthusiasts and executives will expose you to the latest trends and broaden your reach for when you are conducting an online executive job search. As an example, if you’re in PR and have 75 other PR executives following you on Twitter, then tweeting is a good way to discuss opportunities.

Your tweet:@PRguru how is everything going at Company X?
Response: @Executive everything is great, expanding into 2010, very exciting!

At this point, you could take the conversation to another form of communication such as email or LinkedIn, and simply explain that you would be interested to find out more about their plans and that you are currently looking at new opportunities. Also, if you are in a field like media or tech, using Twitter for your executive job search is essential. I have already heard stories of hiring managers at hip advertising agencies tweeting executive job openings as a way to weed-in the most tech savvy candidates.

Finally, as we move into 2010, other industries are increasingly going to adopt Twitter as an online branding and business networking tool. Make sure you, your current employer, and your executive job search are not left behind!


This article was written by Christian Pielow from the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 6,000 executive search professionals in over 70 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 50,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at


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