Twitter. Work. OH NOES. Those words cannot be seen together. Get rid of them. Quickly. Hide this article in another browser or something. Oh god. You’ve left it there too long. Just delete it. What if my boss sees, Scott? My boss is coming. Scott, my boss is coming. Scott, quickly! Scott, quickly just delete it just delete it. DELETE IT.
Social media and ‘working’ are two things that shouldn’t work side by side. One thing involves designating your time to tasks so a public or private enterprise can meet financial or productivity targets. The other involves laughing at cats and making some totally original point about how scripted reality “is totally going out of fashion”. Putting the two concepts, or even mentioning the two words side by side, sort of makes you feel as if you are breaking out into a weird rash.
The thing is though, social media can be incredibly valuable. I mean, I work in journalism here, but nearly every single internship and job I have achieved by being involved and networking on social media. In fact, it is a general rule that if you are working or are planning on working in media, and you don’t have a presence on social media, you are so out-of-touch and out-of-date you might as well carve any future copy into stone or broadcast using a series of small flags.
So, how much time should you spend on social media, and what should you tweet about? WELL AS IF BY MAGIC gaze your eyes approximately one degree downwards.
How much time should I spend on social media?
Well, that’s an impossible question to answer. Every job is different. Some jobs involve you having to hook social media to your veins, loading Twitter or Tweetdeck every three and a half seconds whilst being made to think of reasonably memorable hashtag to advertise a future event. Some businesses think that social media is some fad that involves people talking about “what they have eaten for breakfast” (before snorting because this is such an original criticism). Some businesses don’t realise that social media exists, and some places of work, like in sales or finance, wouldn’t allow you to use social media at work for a millisecond because of course this might distract you from your day job which consists of spending every second screaming down a phone-line before ringing a bell shouting the words “DEAL DEAL DEAL DEAL” (clarification: I have never worked in sales or finance).
So my advice is this – it’s pretty obvious - how much time you should spend on social media should reflect how much time other colleagues are using social media. From the word go, keep a close eye on it. If they are using it loads feel free, if they are using it little, use it little. If they don’t know it exists - still use it - but don’t take the piss.
What should I tweet about?
When people use Twitter at work quite a lot of people fall into the trap of thinking that it must become their walking talking 24 hour press office. Tweets and Facebook statuses consist of:
“WOWOWOWOW our latest report about something you’ve heard nothing about and has actually no relation to what I normally tweet about has just gone online read it here blahblah.com WOWOWOWOW”
“We’ve got an event but we’ve sold NO TICKETS so as a sign of desperation I’m doing a social media strategy where I’ll tweet about it every five minutes. Please go to blahblahblah.com #desperate #FFShelp #Iwilltweetthisagaininfiveminutes”
“Really specific contextual tweet about your day job that actually makes no sense unless you can read my mind or you actually bloody work here”
Yes, you obviously do love your job and maybe if you’ve spent ages on a project that might be of some use in the public domain, then by all means share it. But, I’m sorry to break this to you, unless you are a Rupert Murdoch type and you actually own the business, or you’re so high up at your place of work people are following you just in case you advertise a job or an amazing internship, or you’re Tom Daley and you spend 78% of your time tweeting photos of you just in your underwear, no-one is going to follow you just because of the job you do. Sorry. Nobody cares.
So talk about stuff that interests you. Tweet in a niche about your work perhaps, but stuff that interests the generic public. Spend a good day (when you’re not at work) following people who you find interesting and then spend a suitable amount of time at work chatting with them. People are only going to follow you because you are actually interesting.
What can’t I share on social media while I am at work?
Mum jokes. Casual racism. Criticism of your boss. Anything that shows that you are evidently drunk during daylight hours.
Any topic that you talk about must be appropriate enough to announce across the office using a megaphone and any rant that you tweet must be something that you would be comfortable seeing as a quote on your tombstone. There’s this belief that if you do tweet subtly or you stamp the words “TWEETS OWN” to your biography this will give you some get-out-of-blame free card from work. It doesn’t.
The number one rule is, everything you will say will be seen by absolutely everybody for ever and ever and ever. I cannot wait until 13 year olds look back at their Twitter feeds in 25 years time and see that every tweet for years consisted of of “RETWEET if ur asleep dreaming about sexy @louis_tomlinson baby and pizza xxx”
Who should I follow as a guide of someone breaking all of these rules?
Oh here’s my Twitter address: @scottygb.