Twitter - Blue bird with glasses holding a smartphone with Twitter's logo

By now, we all know the importance of having an active social media presence. No matter your industry, the chances of your customers being online are very high; that means you need to be online, too.

As PR professionals, we spend a lot of time talking with companies about how to implement and maintain strong social media programs. Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges we hear (and let’s face it, know first-hand) is lack of time. Most companies understand the need for a steady stream of social content, but simply don’t have the bandwidth to do it.

So, what’s a busy company to do? Instead of expecting ownership to fall on the shoulders of a few employees, companies should empower all employees to be advocates on social media. My colleague Caroline blogged earlier this week about the importance of showing your employees a little love to get them to be actively involved in your social media initiatives.

This actually accomplishes two important priorities at once: establishing an active social media brand and enabling corporate culture to really take the spotlight. Corporate culture is one of the most buzzed about topics right now, and while many companies talk about how great their culture is, letting employees actually demonstrate it is much more meaningful.

Today, let’s focus on Twitter. Twitter is a fantastic tool for companies, because as it’s used by both personal and professional users. I’m generalizing a bit here, but many people view Facebook as a personal social network and LinkedIn as a professional one. Twitter seems to capture both audiences, so it’s a crucial channel for companies to master. Twitter allows a company to be relevant, share news and accolades, interact with different types of influencers and show off the company’s personality. It sounds simple, but how do you actually get employees involved?

1. Make it easy

Although you don’t want a bunch of copycat Tweets, it’s okay to rally the troops by sending out suggested Tweets now and again. This is a useful strategy for companies who may just be implementing Twitter or asking employees to get involved. If you can start the initiatives by giving some helpful recommendations, it will get the wheels turning. Or not. You have to consider that they have enough agency to decide for themselves but also encourage them to participate where they feel it matters.

2. Make it fun

Encourage employees to Tweet about your company’s personality. Are you celebrating a coworker’s birthday or engagement? Is someone about to leave for a unique vacation? You of course want to ensure that your content is relevant to your audience and related to your industry, but it’s okay to show off your company’s inner workings. It’s a great way to promote culture within your company and it also serves as a strong recruitment tool, too.

3. Make it interactive

This is an extension of the “fun tip” – encouraging your employees to share images (and even videos) is another way to generate interest in the greater social media initiative. For example, March recently used to Twitter to show off our new standing desks. You could also share images of an upcoming summer event. The summer is a great time to capture images of fun events and socials and if you start now, the buzz can carry through to the fall and winter. However, you don’t want to fall into the trap of transforming people’s hobbies into monetised activities.

4. Make it tangible

If you receive inbound leads or interest thanks to Twitter, be sure to communicate that back to employees. If they can understand how their presence on Twitter directly impacts the business, they’ll be much more likely to maintain an active Twitter handle. Furthermore, ensure to reward them adequately when the business makes tangible gains as a result of their efforts: after all, we tell each other all the time that this is our business; donhuts and ping pong table can’t – and shouldn’t – replace proper financial incentives.

Keeping an active, relevant social media presence shouldn’t be one person’s job. It really is important to involve your whole company in order to have social media channels serve their intended purpose. By empowering employees to be a brand advocate, you’re ensuring that your audience gets a steady stream of content and that your employees feel connected to – and supported by – your company. It’s a win-win situation!

This post was first published by Erica Frank on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.