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OtterBox CEO: Why I Don't Use Social Media

Social media has become a powerful tool for all businesses, but a firm belief that 'if you can't do it well, you shouldn't do it at all' is behind my absence from the world of social media.
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As the world becomes more social by spending hours tied to the Web, studies show that top executives tend to shy away from social media. The reasons for this avoidance are as varied as the people behind them. For me, it's personal.

When you run a company that is growing rapidly, people take notice. I've built OtterBox by learning the lessons and absorbing the knowledge of others, and I love to share the wisdom I've gleaned from various experts in the business world. Social media has become a great conduit for sharing information, but it's also opened the floodgates for a constant flow of requests, inquiries, pitches, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I love the concept of social media. The industry is very similar to and intertwined with the mobile industry, in which OtterBox operates. They both evolve rapidly and at the whim of fickle consumer interests. Despite a profound respect for the platforms, I've taken a personal stance of no social media.

OtterBox, as a company, is very social. Social media allows us to interact with consumers on a daily basis in a very real way. It's an outlet for us to showcase the personality of the brand. OtterBox is more than a provider of protective cases--we're fun, creative, sometimes silly and very passionate about our product and our customer. Social media is serious business, and as with many other aspects of the company, I've decided to leave it to the experts.

I'm not alone. Executives are becoming notorious for shying away from social platforms. A recent survey by CEO.com and Domo of the social media presence of Fortune 500 CEOs found that 70 percent are not engaging through these platforms at all.

I can't speak for the head honchos at America's largest companies, but for me sidestepping social media was a personal choice. There's only so much of me to go around, and after the demands of business, engagement with the community, and cherished time with family, there's not much left--definitely not enough to truly engage well in the social media realm. As with anything, I believe that to be a valuable participant in social media, you must really dedicate the time.

Saying 'no' is a healthy thing in just about every aspect of life. Social media makes it hard to say 'no.' Once you put yourself out there, you're there for the entire world (of that social platform). I joined LinkedIn for a short time and was stunned by the number of personal messages I received. If email is like taking a cooling gulp from a stream, social media is akin to opening your mouth under a waterfall.

I can admit that this stance could have something to do with my age. Ten years ago, someone told me that your view on life really changes after 50. I dismissed it then, but now know this is true. The things that are truly important come into focus--my family, my community, my employees.

I want to do right by these things by making sure I can dedicate time and attention to them. As such, I'm unable to dedicate time and attention to being an upstanding member of the social-sphere.

IMAGE: stock.xchng
Last updated: Aug 15, 2012

CURT RICHARDSON | Columnist | Founder and CEO of OtterBox

OtterBox founder and CEO Curt Richardson created the first prototype of a waterproof case in his garage in the early '90s. OtterBox evolved into a leader in protective cases for mobile technology.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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