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Should everybody be on Twitter and worrying about nepotism

Dear Corporate Governess

My boss wants us all on Twitter, but frankly I find it a waste of my time. What am I missing here? –Marie L., Winnipeg
Dear Marie

A lot. According to research by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 77 per cent of the Fortune 500 have active Twitter accounts, an increase of 4 per cent from last year. Plus, eight of the top 10 are avid tweeters, including Walmart, Apple and Ford Motor Co. Maybe you're overwhelmed by the Twitterverse–the social media site has 550 million active registered users sending out 9,100 tweets per second–but if that's the case, just follow the accounts you're interested in and engage when you're ready. Social media guru Jen Evans, CEO of SqueezeCMM in Toronto, a content marketing measurement platform, suggests curating liberally to make the Twitter experience your own, including "unfollowing" accounts that disappoint you (@justinbieber). And don't feel that you need to see every tweet. "Twitter is a river," says Evans. "You dip in and out versus trying to stay on top of everything." Evans recommends Twitter for spotting early trends and sharing links to interesting professional content such as blog posts.

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With platforms like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, you can run a search on topics or hashtags related to your industry. Build up your following by becoming known for expertise in a certain niche so that others can decide whether to follow you. But don't feel like you need to post every hour. One tweet a day is more than enough for beginners.

It's also important to ensure your audience is active on Twitter. Evans suggests running a test by sharing links on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to see where your content gets the most shares, clicks and conversions.

Dear Corporate Governess

The family firm I work for just promoted a nephew into my department. The kid already outranks me with his MBA, and now they want me to mentor him. Should I be worried? –Alec L., Toronto
Dear Alec

Possibly. But don't get out your inhalers just yet. Chances are they just want to ensure that your knowledge and experience get passed on to the next generation–a smart strategy for any company. It doesn't necessarily mean the nephew is out to usurp you. More likely the kid is being primed to take over one day, so look at it as an opportunity to help mould that future leader. Plus, refusing to mentor him will make you look churlish at best–plus a trifle insecure.

If you accept, do it because you're genuinely willing to share your wisdom and insights. Anything less dooms you to failure, according to Gerard Seijts, an Ivey professor of organizational behaviour at Western University in London, Ontario. "Mentoring should be voluntary," says Seijts. "You can create the conditions for it to happen, but you cannot force mentorship. If people feel that they have to, it's not going to work."

So your challenge will be to establish a genuine relationship with the very nephew you'd prefer to go hiking in the Himalayas indefinitely. If you can keep it real, he may turn out to be the very glue that bonds you to the firm.

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