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A few weeks ago O2 CEO Ronan Dunne invited a group of press and bloggers to join him at #o2tweetup.

During the session, he asked for input on running his Twitter account, as well as sharing his own thoughts on the role of a senior executive online.

We caught up with him to drill down into a few of these points, and talk about the process of running a CEO's Twitter account.

Why are you looking at Twitter and best practice now in particular? What's influenced that?

As a digital services business, we have seen firsthand the explosive growth of Twitter through our customers’ use of smartphones. We’ve been on Twitter as @O2 since 2008. I’ve personally been on Twitter for several years.

But 2011 was a breakthrough year for Twitter – and has become, in our view, central to how any business manages reputation and shares with stakeholders, media and customers.

As a CEO, I have an important part to play in this engagement, and we think it’s the next step as a business committed to finding fresh ways to communicate, that I tweet in a professional capacity. 

The idea of my tweets from @ronandunneo2 is to give the inside track on life as a CEO, giving my views, opinions and experiences from the front-line of digital services. It should add to public understanding of what we do, why we do it, and how we do it.

Do you write your own tweets?

Yes. The tweets about Arsenal and rugby should prove that!

It’s important that I tweet authentically, about life as a CEO, and it’s a very personal commitment from me to engage in this space.

What are the biggest challenges in being a CEO on Twitter?

Time is the obvious one. With a packed schedule, it can be difficult to take the time to share what I’m doing and engage with the wider Twitterverse. 

How do you work with the different teams within O2 in relation to what you tweet, is there a content strategy?

The social media team have a central content schedule for the business, and we have clear roles and purpose for our channels.

My tweets play a part in this, by helping particular audiences, keen to know more about life at O2, get further under the skin of our business. But I don’t have specific content scheduled for me – my diary is my content schedule, with the events, activities and meetings I have as CEO shaping what I tweet about.

What do you think is the best way to balance a CEO's account, with that of the brand?

It’s important, as in any form of communication to be focused and effective, with a clear sense of your audience and objective.

It’s unrealistic any CEO’s Twitter account should be the main route to talk to customers in social – otherwise you’re the comms person, not the CEO!

Different businesses will address how best to utilise the CEO alongside the brand presence, but if a CEO is going to add value in Twitter, I feel they need to be contributing something only they personally could. In my case it’s the insider’s view of life as a CEO.

This gives context and depth of understanding about the opportunities and challenges of running our business, which has 22m customers in the rapidly evolving field of digital services. 

The feedback from #o2tweetup, the event we recently ran to get feedback from some twitter users we admire, clarified what I already thought: people want to hear clear views from me.

It’s not about sharing our news announcements and info on products and services, or customer care – we already do a great job of that – but about my thoughts on the latest trends, developments and issues affecting both our sector, and us.

What do you think your responsibility is on Twitter?

First and foremost my responsibility is the same as any Twitter user: to be interesting and add value to your followers.  

Specifically as a face of O2, it’s important I play a part in increasing understanding of our business.

Finally, as a CEO I appreciate I have access to astonishing information and experiences, which I can help others connect with, as recently during Mobile World Congress.

How do you handle complaints that aren't specifically relevant to you personally?

Our social media team, who run @o2, helps customers on Twitter wherever possible - including those contacting @ronandunneo2. 

Vikki Chowney

Published 12 March, 2012 by Vikki Chowney

Vikki is head of community at TMW. You can follow her on Twitter or Google+

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