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3 guiding principles for CEOs who post on Twitter

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A CEO’s fiduciary duties to their company and its shareholders do not end when they are off the clock — they must always act in good faith. However, navigating the boundaries between a company’s official communications and a personal voice can be difficult in today’s social-media-connected environment.

What a CEO posts on Twitter can raise not only serious reputational issues for themselves and their companies but posting the wrong things at the wrong time can also cause breach of fiduciary duties and may even run afoul of securities laws.

Reputation and goodwill take a long time to build and are difficult to maintain, but it only takes one tweet to destroy it all.

Fiduciary duties can be divided into three buckets: (1) duty of care — CEOs must act in good faith with the care of a reasonable person in a like position with a reasonable belief that their decisions are in furtherance of their company’s best interest; (2) duty of loyalty — CEOs must put the interest of shareholders and the company above their own self-interest; and (3) duty of good faith — CEOs must act with honesty and fairness to shareholders and the company.

There is no denying that Twitter can be leveraged as a powerful tool. Used appropriately, it can fortify the reputation of a company and its CEO, forge stronger consumer relationships and drive business profits. For example, Tim Cook’s habit of tweeting about his interactions with Apple customers demonstrates his customer-service values and effort to connect with consumers, which can potentially lead to a bigger and more loyal following.

Lately, more and more CEOs are communicating their stance on issues that are important to their consumer base to exhibit authenticity, relatability and demonstrate their personal and corporate values through social media. Following last year’s murder of George Floyd and rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, nearly 60% of all S&P 100 tech CEOs, unicorn CEOs, and Fortune 500 CEOs tweeted, “Black Lives Matter.” This was the first time CEOs active on Twitter overwhelmingly voiced their position on racial and social justice issues.

Twitter can also be an opportunity to show transparency in policy. CEOs can use social media to announce new management initiatives, capability expansions and new investments in employees (diversity initiatives, new roles for women, organizational changes) that are positive in tone and speak about the future direction of the company. These can have a positive correlation with stock prices.

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It wasn’t that long ago that the world was fixated on Donald Trump’s Twitter posts and their correlation with the stock market. Words have permanence and their impact can be catastrophic. Given their elevated role as a leader and representative of the company and the fiduciary duties they owe, CEOs must watch what they say and when they say it. What it all boils down to is awareness, common sense and the law.

Don’t break the law and stick to the facts

For U.S. publicly traded companies, SEC Regulation Fair Disclosure (Reg FD) says that “an issuer may not disclose material nonpublic information to certain groups, either intentionally or unintentionally, without disclosing the same information to the entire marketplace.” If companies use social media to announce key information, to comply, they must alert investors that social media will be used to disseminate such information.

Regardless of whether it is a public or private company, CEOs are corporate officers and owe fiduciary duties to their companies and their shareholders. Fiduciary duty requires CEOs to act in good faith, apply their best business judgment and to act in the best interest of the company. This is true whether they are in the boardroom or on Twitter.

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

Searchenginejournal.com

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