In our team meeting on Monday someone mentioned Twitter and, because we’re curious and not at all competitive, my editor Chris and I compared accounts.
Chris is an avid tweeter, mostly of dad jokes, and has over 4,500 followers.
With around 300 followers and averaging a tweet a week it became pretty clear that my Twitter game was lagging.
Twitter’s great, for the most part. I often use it to source interviews and research topics, and it can help create the kind of community that you’d struggle to find in real life. But tweeting has never really been my thing.
Having said that, the fact is that social media has become one of the main ways for companies to share important news and create a buzz around their brand.
And, as long as the employee genuinely wants to get involved, it then makes sense for them to get stuck in on Twitter – which, unlike Facebook, tends to have a wider reach than just friends and your nan.
This means that the lines between work and personal social media have begun to blur. For example, there are loads of examples of companies firing employees for inappropriate tweets, like the woman who landed a job at tech company Cisco just to have it rescinded after tweeting about the prospect of ‘the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work’.
Aside from the potential for huge blunders, if you’re not a natural tweeter, do you really need to be tweeting about work?
Signs point to it being a good idea, especially for your work. Starbuck’s employee advocacy programme encourages its team to tweet and, partly as a result of that, it’s had huge success on social, with nearly 12 million followers on Twitter alone.
One digital agency in the US even says it’s so important that you should fire your employees if they don’t have a Twitter account.
While that’s hopefully tongue in cheek advice, with industry leaders increasingly sharing things on Twitter first it’s definitely an important way of staying up to date with what’s happening in your industry. This is also becoming the case even in more traditional sectors.
I usually run the social media for BusinessCloud events, which span every industry from marketing to manufacturing. 99 per cent of the speakers at our events will have Twitter accounts no matter what industry they’re in.
In some industries it’s obviously more pressing than others and the issues it brings will be different in each.
As a journalist, for instance, if you’re running both a personal and work account it throws up questions like which account to tweet from first, with the work account obviously getting priority.
However that doesn’t mean that personal accounts don’t count. Back in 2012 Sky News journalists were told not to repost information from any Twitter users that aren’t Sky employees, and to check before breaking news on Twitter.
There have also been issues with journalists breaking stories on their personal accounts before posting them to company accounts.
Once bosses and employees have figured out how they want the relationship to work though, there are obvious benefits for the employee when sharing company messages too.
It helps expand your following and lets people see what you’re interested in, and you can make good contacts by engaging on the platform.
One of the most important things if you want to tweet work messages is to share things that are still useful, entertaining and personal to you rather than just spamming your followers about your company’s 27th award win that year.
And, most importantly, the general consensus is that having an inactive social media account is probably worse than having none, especially for brand accounts. The first thing that anyone does when they’re looking for a new service is check a company’s website and social media, and a tumbleweed account is a red flag.
With that in mind, it’s probably about time I gave my Twitter some love.
For the most part – once you’ve figured out any logistics – it seems to be a case of getting into the habit of using it, so I’ve set myself a challenge to send out one tweet a day on a topic I care about, either business-related or personal.
If you have any top tips or messages of support, feel free to share them with me – on Twitter, of course.