Whether a user or not, everyone knows of Twitter and (as of the fourth quarter of 2016) with an averaged 319 million monthly active users, the platform is an invaluable source of information and news for any given topic. It also provides an opportunity to engage with talent, collaborate and promote your employer brand and product(s).

Due to the sheer number of users there’s an immense amount of content shared every second. Navigating the platform, identifying accounts to follow and engage with and building an audience of your own can, at first, seem like an overwhelming challenge.

With a little guidance, a plan and a little patience Twitter offers a great many benefits to both individuals and brands alike.

CIPHR Twitter Profile

Starting out on Twitter

First and foremost, you want to create your Twitter account using a profile name relevant to your brand. As the unique identifier on the network for your brand it’s important to get this right.
Your Twitter name (or ‘handle’) is limited to 15 characters so some thought is needed unless you’re lucky enough to have a short name that’s still available to use.

As an obvious example: as we produce HR software our Twitter ‘handle’ is ‘CiphrHRSoftware‘.

You have 160 characters to make sure your profile bio explains who you are and what benefits your presence on Twitter will offer. Let people know what makes your business special and why they should follow you.
You can also include useful information such as your location and business hours and you can also share a link to your website.

Your bio remains editable allowing you to update it as your brand grows and changes, ensuring that your profile is fresh and up to date.

The basics

  • ‘Tweeting’ – Posting an update on Twitter.  This is done by typing in the field marked ‘What’s happening’ at the top of the screen.
  • ‘Re-Tweeting’ –Sharing another Twitter user’s Tweet.  Clicking on the ‘Retweet’ icon re-shares that tweet and the option to add a comment if you wish.
  • Messaging – Like Facebook, this is a direct message to another user.  The message is not visible to anyone but you and the account you are contacting.
  • ‘Mentioning’ – By typing ‘@’ and then the username of the person that you want to mention, that user will be able to see that you have included them in a Tweet (great for interaction and relationship building). Using ‘@’ as the first character of the tweet will limit the audience to only those accounts that follow both you and the account you are mentioning. To circumvent this, add a ‘.’ Before the ‘@’.
  • Hash Tags – Using ‘#’ in front of certain words marks them as the keywords within your Tweet.  When users search for these terms, your Tweets visibility will increase within the search results.

Who (and why) to follow?

Group of pink and white flamingoes at Namibian Walvis BayBefore searching for accounts to follow, ask yourself what it is that you’re looking to achieve.
If you’re simply looking to stay up to date with the latest HR news then you’ll probably want to search for the many HR blogs that exist.
If your goal is to engage with industry professionals to promote your brand, then your search will be slightly different.

Think about those sites and social profiles that you regularly visit to read their content; the chances are they have a Twitter account that you can follow.
As well as getting a feed of their latest website updates, many Twitter users feeds will also contain updates not published elsewhere.

There are various websites to help you search for Twitter users and suggest the most appropriate accounts to follow based on various factors, but using the ‘Who to follow’ list on Twitter itself is a good strategy.
Engaging with, and mentioning these accounts increases the chance of reciprocation and improves your online influence, validity and visibility.

With over 20 million fake accounts on Twitter it’s important to check the activity of a user before following.

Tweet Strategy – rules to live by

Ensure that you have a clear social strategy and message, if you have several people from your company updating the same Twitter account then it’s crucial that they all use the same terminology and don’t give mixed messages to your followers.

Try to keep your tweets to a sensible number each day, for consistency. About 5 to 10, at regular intervals, is a good benchmark.  Try not to publish several tweets at the same time.  Instead, schedule them to publish throughout the day.

Business concept, businessman working with smartphone. Architectural plans on theBy scheduling or publishing tweets in this way you don’t ‘spam’ your followers while maintaining an acceptable frequency.
Tweets should always include quality news and links.  Remember your followers will be checking their account at work and you don’t want them to think your Tweets are wasting their time.

Don’t be afraid to Tweet about the company’s ‘behind the scenes’ stories, including current projects and upcoming events.  The main reason people are turning to sites like Twitter is to obtain the very latest news about those accounts that they follow, so don’t disappoint your followers!

Always respond to questions or comments from your followers (especially if they are not positive). By engaging quickly and effectively you’ll demonstrate that your social accounts are taken seriously and your followers are valued.

Running promotions and competitions exclusively for your social media followers will attract a larger audience and visits to your website.

Always show gratitude to other Twitter users that share your messages. Send them a personalised ‘thank you’ message.  This way you will build rapport and potentially future opportunities.

One of the main features of Twitter is the limited number (140) of characters you can use. You should get straight to the point with any tweet that you publish. Using hash tags will allow you to include certain keywords.

N.B. Twitter no longer includes links or Twitter users mentioned in a tweet in its character count.

One step further with Twitter

Once you have an established Twitter account you may need to start looking at tools and advanced techniques to help administer and nurture your account while providing valuable statistics.
As well as the analytics built into Twitter there are many third-party sites offering interesting advice and insights into your ‘Twitterverse’. These include:

Business concept

But how can Twitter help HR to raise their profile and reach their goals?

Twitter’s long been one of the main players in the social media world. With over 300 million users including industry ‘influencers’, big brands and news outlets, Twitter’s an invaluable source of the latest news and insights into any given topic.

One of the many benefits of social media is that most people are using it already. Introducing a new business tool that requires little to no training makes the implementation relatively pain-free, fast and manageable.

Even those employees that don’t currently use Twitter will be less averse to the platform given its global popularity and ease of use.

As Twitter is 100% online it can be accessed and utilised from anywhere, at any time and from virtually any device. Security can be applied if needed by restricting visibility of an account to only those users that are approved.

1. Workforce communication

Friends looking at smart phone while sitting in cafeInternal communications have grown significantly since the days of staff emails and offline newsletters. Instant messaging, forums and employee portals are now embedded in most businesses and represent a modern way for individuals, departments and locations to connect.
With an increase in the number of employees working remotely it’s become a business priority to equip individuals with the means to communicate instantly with their colleagues, wherever they may be working.

Using social media for internal communications does not simply create a platform for people to “chat” on.

Instead it is about the positive results that occur through employee interactions, such as a higher retention rate of staff and the creation of brand advocates who are passionate about their work.

Providing employees with the means to communicate in real time from wherever they are not only encourages faster response times but also improves the flexibility of your employee’s ability to stay in touch.

Twitter’s current 140-character restriction forces short and concise messaging which avoids irrelevant information being relayed and makes reviewing a conversation easy and fast.

2. Team collaboration

As with general employee communication, teamwork and collaboration can be easily achieved using the standard features included with Twitter. Image sharing, private messaging and the ability to quickly and efficiently discuss a topic make Twitter an obvious choice for basic collaboration.

Social platforms have morphed into new solutions for collaboration and innovation. They’re becoming unique portals to engage employees, start conversations, recruit top talent, and develop new innovative ideas.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

– Henry Ford 

Brands that successfully leverage social networks are doing so to engage their internal communities in conversation explicitly to tap into their creativity and energy.

3. Talent attraction and onboarding

Social media has given companies access to unprecedented amounts of information on talent behaviour and preferences – so called ‘Big Data’.

Most brands have a presence on Twitter and the ability to engage and assess current and potential talent. Both active and passive talent will happily converse with a brand that shows an interest and is proactive in their social recruiting efforts.

Woman looking away holding phone standing in loft apartmentWith 94% of professional recruiters using social media as part of their talent acquisition and management it has proven itself as an indispensable recruitment resource and one that HR should tap into.

Not only can potential candidates get a feel for the brand culture and whether they would be a good fit but conversely, a brand can assess a candidate to understand if they would be someone that would fit into the role and company.
During the recruitment process, a new employee can follow a brand to stay up to date with the latest company news.

Whether used in conjunction with the company onboarding portal or not, Twitter also allows the brand to send private messages to new employees regarding their new role. This may be to direct them to information online, asking a simple question or sharing an image which might be useful come the start date.

Being party to employee discussions and updates allows a new employee to integrate and introduce themselves even prior to their start date, making their first day that little less daunting.

4. Employee recognition and engagement

Sharing the business’ gratitude for an employee’s efforts is a great way to motivate and engage individuals while publicising your top talent to your followers. ‘360 advocacy’ (when you as a brand share and promote your employee’s efforts) is an effective way to both motivate and encourage your workforce to reciprocate.

“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers. “

– Stephen R. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Messages of thanks and appreciation can be accompanied by emoji’s, images or even GIF’s to amplify the sentiment and make the ‘thank you’ that bit more meaningful.

5. Keeping up-to-date with the latest HR news and insights

86% of Twitter users are using the platform to stay up to date with news. With so much going on in the HR world it’s difficult to stay up to date without spending hours on end reading articles and wading through email updates.
Given it’s ‘snippet’ format, Twitter makes scanning the latest news and articles quick and easy. It’s also possible to run searches and be alerted if certain accounts publish an update.

The sheer volume of content being shared daily on Twitter enables quick and easy access to an enormous amount of information.