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The Simple Reason Jeff Bezos Is So Bad at Twitter and What Every Leader Can Learn from It

Jeff Bezos is arguably the most accomplished businessman of all time. He built one of the most important companies in the world, created jobs for more than a million people, and became one of the richest people in the world. He’s clearly good at a lot of things. Twitter, however, is not one of them.

Not for lack of trying. Since Bezos has stepped down as CEO of Amazon, he appears to have had some time on his hands, and has devoted a handful of it to trolling President Biden and the White House on Twitter.

This is a recent example, I guess it’s supposed to be funny?

Or this one I suppose is supposed to be clever?

This tweet is from this weekend, and it’s mostly phishing, but the kind of trolling you’d expect from someone who wants you to know they’re the smartest person in the class:

On the other hand, Bezos may be trying to make a point about topics that interest him. If this is the case, someone he trusts should tell him that Twitter is not the place to be.

The thing is, Bezos isn’t necessarily wrong. He is a very smart guy and seems ready to recall bad information when he sees it. It’s just that no one particularly cares, at least, not on Twitter.

Twitter is not an exact academic conversation about important topics. It’s a free eighth grade lunch room for everyone. Don’t score points on Twitter with well-thought-out arguments. You score points with the poo emoji.

This is how Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded to a tweet from Parag Agrawal, the current CEO of Twitter, a company he’s trying to buy.

On the other hand, Bezos probably thinks Twitter can be good for his personal brand. For years, Bezos’ personal brand has been part “the smartest kid in class” and part supervillain. He might be trying to use Twitter to change that. Maybe he thinks he can tweet in his own cool way.

After all, other wealthy figures have weaponized Twitter for their own purposes, and nothing is more effective than the person who ousted Bezos from the throne as the world’s richest man, Elon Musk. Or take former President Donald Trump, who – no matter what you think of him – knows exactly what he was doing on Twitter.

Both demonstrated a mastery of using Twitter to bend public conversation in their direction (Trump was permanently banned from Twitter following his comments during the January 6, 2020 attack on the US Capitol). Bezos didn’t even come close.

The simplest reason is that despite the fact that Bezos is incredibly smart, he does not understand the medium or the audience. Most people don’t particularly care what the former CEO of the world’s largest online shopping site thinks about gas prices or corporate taxes. This is not why people use Twitter. When he tweets about big important topics, he seems awkward and far from reality.

By the way, here’s the lesson: The only reason to be good at Twitter is to get attention for yourself. The thing is, the kind of attention you generate on Twitter is superficial and fleeting, which means that not only do you have to work on it constantly, but attention is all you really get. Twitter’s interest never translates into anything tangible.

Twitter is great for getting attention but terrible at anything that requires substance. This is important as a leader. Attention is not the same as influence. Your goal should be to shape the conversations that matter to you and your team. Everything else is just a distraction.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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