Let me hear it…

“I am a CEO and I am not afraid to tweet!

I am not afraid of a blue bird.

I do NOT have to share what I eat for lunch every day!”

You know who you are. You don't dream of sweet little blue birds who will bring you positive ROI or make your phone ring with qualified leads. You have nightmares instead about a crazy ROI eating bluebird with fiery red eyes who want to grab every waking moment of your Marketing VP, Customer Service VP and even Sales leadership. You wake up in hot sweats after a dream of walking into the shareholders meeting and everyone laughing about the photo that had 2200 views on TwitPic of you at the neighborhood Christmas party last year.

However, there is also another side to this story and to what's keeping you up at night. You also are hearing rumors of your friends hopping on Twitter. Some of them are seeing some success. That is the ones who have invested the time to figure out how to integrate social media, not just Twitter into the DNA of their business. They actually have people monitoring the conversations. The hardest part you find to believe is that some of them are even getting real leads from such. They're connecting with real folks who want to engage with their business and brand.

You see them walking around with the iPhone in hand tweeting about this and that as if it's now become part of their DNA. You even can hear them when inside the restroom typing tweets on their iPhone & Blackberry keyboard and simply can't understand why!

So, you're not sure what to do. To tweet or not to tweet is the question of the year for you when it comes to social media.

21 Things Every CEO Must Know about Twitter

1. You don't have to talk about lunch. Good news is there is no crazy blue bird that will swoop down &  hack your Twitter account if you don't tweet about lunch. It's all up to you. You may not care what others are eating for lunch. However, you might be surprised that some of your loyal fans offline might just care what you had for lunch. The crazier thing is that if you tweet about it now and then, they'll probably retweet it to their friends. So be careful what you eat as after reading this post my guess is you'll someday tweet what you eat just to prove me wrong! Ha!

2. The bluebird is NOT real. Yup, it's true. The bluebird is only a cartoon. Since the bluebird is already consuming your dreams in a negative way, not much will change. Except now you may start having positive dreams. Trust me, after you start tweeting you will have dreams of the Twitter bird on your logo, singing your slogan and more. It's okay, it happens to the best and worst of us!

3. News Alert: You are not the first one to jump on Twitter. As much as you might want to think you'll be leading the pack if you get on Twitter this year, not quite. Yes, you may be ahead of many. However, chances are you will be happily surprised how many of your colleagues are already there.

4. Twitter does not have to consume your life! Just as you have managed your life and business to this point to get to where you are today, you can do the same with social media and Twitter. Set boundaries. You don't have to be a bathroom tweeter if you don't want to be.  The key is to integrate it into your life. The more natural you can be with your conversation the better.

5. You don't have to know everything. Who cares if you call a tweet a twit or a retweet a rebeat. There are many people learning right along with you.

6. Focus on the conversation before the tools. The tech details will come. You can learn the tools at anytime. Keep your focus on how you can leverage the conversations to connect with your audience. How can you leverage social media and twitter as a medium to build relationships to help grow and sustain your business. If you focus on the tools only then guess what you'll have? Lots of bad dreams 12 months from now planning how you are going to justify the time and money spent on tools for you and your team when it has brought little return. Focus on the conversation first and the value will eventually come if you align it with your business.

7. Don't have an intern tweet for you form day one. This is the absolute worst mistake you can make is to hire an intern who knows nothing about your business and assign them as you ghost tweeter. Wrong! Instead work with an outside executive consultant or agency or even someone internally who can help you develop a strategy for how you and your business can begin engaging in social media. Yes, there is a time and place for an intern on your social team.  However, it is not as the leader of your tweet team from day one.

8. Stomp the Random Acts of  Social Media Marketing (RAMs)! RAMMIES as I like to call them will eat your ROI to the bone. Your marketing director might deliver a social media list of tactics completed that fall into the category of RAMs. However, don't be fooled. Ask the hard questions. Make sure the RAMs list all roll up to an uber plan. Accept nothing less than an integrated plan that aligns to your business goals and objectives.

9. Social media and Twitter is not rocket science! You've done this before. You're just doing it on a different medium.  You know how to build a plan. You know how to connect with an audience. You know how to build a loyal following and grow your business. Now you simply have the help of a cute little blue feathered friend to keep you company if you so choose!

10. The lil' bluebird knows a lot of people! The best thing about Twitter is that when implemented correctly Twitter can help you connect with lots and lots of people you wouldn't have ever met otherwise. People in your own zip code to people across the globe. I have personally had blog posts translated in numerous languages I can't speak thanks to Twitter. You can and will do the same if you integrate appropriately into your business.

11. Social media is not free. Yes, you can setup most social media profiles for free. There is not a tweet subscription plan that you pay by the minute or number of characters. However, social media consumes your greatest asset which is time. This is why you need a plan with goals and objectives. It's the only way you're going to see the light of day with a positive ROI. We want those bluebird dreams to include the bluebird dressed in green, not red!

12.  Sorry Charlie, social media is not a band-aid for a broken business. Instead it may actually do the opposite. Chances are it will bring some skeletons out of the closet. You know the ones. Things like what is your sales team really spending time on? What is the ROI of all those local networking, golf tournaments, direct mail programs and the list goes on doing for your business? The question is not “how can I fit social media into my budget and time?”  Instead think in terms of what can I stop doing that is not bringing a positive return that can enable me to integrate social media into my business aligned with our goals and objectives.”

13. Don't miss the forest through the trees. Focus on the opportunity to grow your business, increase brand equity and better connect with your audience. Don't get caught up in the technology more than the purpose for doing social media. Instead focus on how you can leverage the medium with a focus on business results. Ask more questions about the ART of social media and the WHY you should do something versus the how to use a tool. Trust me, I have worked with numerous businesses that wish they would have done this from day one.

14. Twitter can be the hook that brings your audience to other platforms. My co-founder @JoshROINut likes to refer to Twitter as the best fishing tool there is. When used correctly it can increase blog readership, visits to your website, attendance at events and yes, leads! We have literally quit attending local networking groups thanks to the power of social media and Twitter. It delivers an ROI far above what I can accomplish at most small and big networking group meetings and events.

15. There is only one you so be that person. I think Dr Seuss summarized it best with these words “Be who you are and say what you feel because those that mind don't matter and those that matter don't mind.” Social media enables you to leverage attraction marketing to the extreme. If you have half an ounce of personality let it shine. Share yourself even if for a test run of 30-60 days. If it doesn't bring results then come back to this post or tweet me at @PamMktgNut & I'll personally spend 30 minutes with you to discuss why.

16. Connect with other like minds. When you setup your Twitter account take the time to connect your contact database from Yahoo, Gmail and LinkedIn. It will enable you to immediately connect with people you already know. Find the people you know and like and follow what they do. Listen to the conversations. Find other newbies. Join executive discussions and don't be afraid to ask the hard questions. Challenge others on their use of RAMMIES versus an integrated plan. You're guaranteed at minimum to spark an interesting conversation that will draw people to your blog, LinkedIn profile and whatever else you may have of interest to the particular audience.

17. There is only one way to jump in and that's head first. You have been dangling your toe in over the water long enough. Come on, you don't need a wet suit or a snorkle. You can absolutely tweet like the awesome tweeter you know you want to be. Jump in and go for it! There will be plenty of helpful tweeter buddies to throw you a life raft and some nose plugs when you need them.

18. Social media really is about relationships. Social media is about people. It's about life. Relationships are the lift raft that will carry you from social network platforms to the next as the technology evolves. It's not just about how many followers you have or what your Klout influence score is. Of course, as business leaders we want the largest possible audience hanging on every last word we say and bringing a positive return.  However, if you focus on the quality of conversations that lead to quality, authentic relationships the numbers will come. If you haven't already I highly encourage you to pick up the book Engage from Brian Solis. It is by far one of the best books I have seen to help business leaders understand the importance of relationships and the art of engagement in business and social media.

19. Results don't come overnight. Yes, you'll be able to cross the tactical accomplishments off your list early on. Things like followers, retweets come easy if you try.  However, your goal is to build a loyal community of people who are genuinely interested in your product, brand and help you can provide them. Set realistic goals and don't give up just before the ROI bird is ready to drop off the bright green package of return on investment. Build your plan with goals, objectives and milestones that enable you to execute in a manner that will bring good return but in a realistic time frame.

20.  Have fun. It's not life or death if you lose a Twitter follower. It's not going to ruin your day even if you lose all of your Twitter followers. It almost happened to me when I started. I had approximately 100 followers. I tweeted something about my faith and guess what!? I lost 50 of them in an instant. But who cares? I didn't! I knew where those 50 came from  and that I would eventually find 50 more than had the same beliefs as me and my company. Enjoy the ride. Getting there is half the fun!

we are not afraid to tweet21. Repeat after each tweet session: “We Are Not Afraid to Tweet!

I encourage you to also check out these 3 articles I recently published to help business leaders be successful integrating social media.

2011 Social Media Predictions: Top 12 Reasons Businesses will Fail at Social Media

10 Tips to Eat ROI for Breakfast in Social Media

25 Facts Every CEO Must Know About Social Media

21 Tips to Get Your Tweet On This Week!