For many people, Twitter is fun or at least is compulsively entertaining.
For me, I have to admit, it's enjoyable but still a chore. I put in an hour or so a week though on Twitter because I feel that I have to. Twitter is a great free marketing vehicle for my businesses or brand and lets me control the message 100 percent.
Not everyone sees it this way. A 2016 survey found that less than half of Fortune 500 CEOs are on social media. That compares to about 65 percent of the U.S. population. Proponents of this approach argue that CEOs are too busy to be wasting time on social media. Their time is better spent focusing on growing their businesses.
That's a logical argument, but it ignores the fact that Elon Musk -- CEO of multiple companies -- is fairly active on Twitter. (For the purposes of this article, let's focus on the business world and not anyone in government.) I believe that's the right approach. CEOs should be on Twitter, but not too much.
When it comes to social media, they should emulate the wisdom and balance of a Buddhist monk instead of the excess of a Kardashian. Here's why:
1. Being somewhat active lets you toe the line between attention-seeking and aloof.
While no one offers a guideline for social media use, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has said that tweeting too much is "unhealthy."
Putting in hours a day on Twitter, Facebook Snapchat or any of the other social media platforms communicates that a CEO is too busy crafting their public image. It's OK to do that if you're an actor or a comedian, but CEOs presumably have better things to do. Not being on at all, meanwhile, makes you seem aloof.
2. Less is often more.
If you only tweet once in a while, your tweets will have more impact.
Look at Elon Musk, for instance. He has only tweeted about 3,700 times over the past nine years. That averages to about one a day. His tweets also usually focus on his companies. Rather than tee off on the issues of the day, he talks about stuff that he's doing. As a result, people pay attention.
3. Fan interactions also mean more.
CEOs shouldn't be doing the equivalent of answering fan mail on Twitter.
But it's a good idea every so often to answer a fan or a critic on the platform to show that you are accessible. Doing it all the time can make you seem too accessible.
4. You can forge new connections.
As odd as it may seem, you can make new connections via Twitter that may be good for business.
I've experienced this firsthand. Being selective with whom I engage, I have forged relationships via Twitter that when taken offline, bloom into new business opportunities. While some presence on social media allows one to forge connections, too much of a presence can invite connections that are neither helpful nor productive.
5.There's less of a chance of saying something regrettable.
Just looking at the raw numbers, you're much more likely to say something stupid if you lob 20,000 tweets instead of 2,000.
If you're undisciplined with your social media use, then you're more likely to tweet when you're angry, emotional or otherwise in the wrong frame of mind to be communicating with thousands or millions of people.
6. Too much social media can be detrimental for your health and productivity.
Like anything else, moderation is key.
By my calculation, as a CEO you can't afford to be completely off social media. That's why I advocate treating it as just another expected job duty, like talking to the press. It might not be your favorite, but make peace with it.
On the other hand, be careful about thinking too much about your brand and don't get sucked into trying to settle scores or cracking jokes when you'd be better off doing something else.
When in doubt, just put the phone down.