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Two weeks ago, former PayPal Director of Strategy, Rakesh Agrawal, tweeted insults at his fellow co-workers at PayPal. He tweeted a pledge to explain everything while announcing his new startup company. Agrawal then tried to cover his tracks by deleting some of his tweets and using lack of sleep as an explanation. Shortly after his ranting, PayPal issued a statement that Agrawal was no longer with the company, and that PayPal has zero tolerance for disrespectful behavior. http://nypost.com/2014/05/05/now-former-paypal-executive-continues-his-epic-twitter-rant/ What a hot mess to say the least. In the age of social media, more specifically Twitter, any public figure from Lady Gaga to Pope Francis can not only say anything that comes to mind instantly, but then share it with literally millions of people in less than a minute. This seems to present a dilemma: has social media defrocked the CEO? Ten years ago, the image of top level executives, like Agrawal would be a refined person in a suit, who would keep to their social circles in Manhattan or Silicon Valley. Anything that was said to the public would be put out in a press release by a publicist, issued as a statement by a lawyer, or offered in a press conference with a rehearsed speech. Interaction with public, outside friends, family, and colleagues would’ve been on a very limited basis. It wouldn’t have been documented either. Are we entering a new era in which the mighty and powerful cooperate executive is humanized? Think about it, Agrawal uses Twitter, just like me, or anybody could. If I want to ask him a question directly, I can just Tweet him. Now, I’m not naive, I realize that he probably wouldn’t respond to me, nevertheless he would see it. Although you would be surprised how often a public figure interacts with their fans. For example, Saturday Night Live alum, Norm MacDonald, got into a debate about religion with various fans on Twitter last year. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/03/19/bullied-by-atheists-nonbelievers-go-after-former-snl-star-for-saying-he-believes-in-god-scriptures/ Again ten years ago, such platforms weren’t available to have these types of conversations. These types of incidents don’t just occur on Twitter. We’ve seen it happen on Reddit and Instagram. In the past, if a CEO had say something like Argawal did B.S (Before Social media), it would have been indirectly associated with him or the company and very simple to imply that it was the media adding an unflattering spin to the CEO’s elitist image. Our current direct access comes with benefits. It can make a CEO more human and down to earth. If the CEO has a nice personality, it can be showcased on social media, and ergo have a positive effect on profits and company image. Sir Richard Branson is a primary of example of a CEO with a nice personality, that is showcased well on social media. Branson is the the CEO of the Virgin Group, which is most notably known for the brands, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Records, and Virgin Airlines. http://www.virgin.com/time-machine Branson’s success speaks for itself, considering the well-known and diversified brands that he owns, the fact that he was knighted in 1999, and a billionaire. His fun-loving, down to earth, and caring personality is showcased well across various social media platforms, including his blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Branson is not only an influencer on LinkedIn, but he was the first to reach one million followers. http://www.cnet.com/news/richard-branson-on-linkedin-first-to-1m-followers/ While I can’t provide directly correlation between Branson’s nice persona on social media and the Virgin Group’s profits, I think the fact that Branson’s net worth went up in 2014 shows that nice guys don’t finish last. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-27360032

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