[tweetmeme]Steve Forbes, CEO of Forbes Magazine, is asking his employees to promote his account on Twitter so he gets more followers. I’m all for companies enlisting their employees as brand ambassadors. And Forbes is certainly one of the best-known brands in reporting business news – Steve Forbes having been a presidential candidate and scion of one of the most famous media families in the business.
But Forbes and other business media (I just looked) are far behind companies in other industries in leveraging social media. That’s strange because Forbes, Business Week and Fortune, to name just three media giants, are in the business of communications, n’est pas?
According to a report in Media Bistro, a memo was circulated to staffers that reads, in part, “If you are on Twitter, it would be great if you could mention Steve’s account @SteveForbesCEO, and let your own followers know he is now tweeting. If you aren’t on Twitter, now is a great time to start getting involved!” (not to be catty, but isn’t using CEO in his moniker just a little pompous?)
As of today, Steve Forbes had 1,1718 followers. Pretty puny compared to non-communications companies like Zappos, best known for selling shoes. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has 1,697,254 followers, and the company boasts of having 501 employees with Twitter accounts who are focused on customer service. Many companies have embraced social media and are leveraging Twitter, among other networks. Comcast, IBM, and the airlines (they use Twitter for updates on price deals) are just three examples.
Forbes isn’t the only laggard. I decided to check out other business editors on Twitter – have you tried to locate the masthead online of Forbes, Business Week and Fortune? I did and couldn’t find them. So I Googled “Business Week editor” and up popped Josh Tyrangiel. Hope he’s still there. In any event he isn’t on Twitter although @bw is the company account, with a modest 7,782 followers. Of interest, Zappo’s was named a Business Week 2009 Customer Service Champ.
Fortune does better with 98,744 followers. While online, I found a story in All Things Digital from March about Fortune’s redesign as a print magazine. They’re just getting around to updating their website.
I find it surprising and a little disappointing that the media giants in the business of communication are not leaders but followers. Their advertisers are way out ahead of them. Soon they may not need the media giants at all to reach their customers.