As a social media “robot,” I communicate with countless different people on a daily basis—people I’ve never met in real life. It involves frequent generation of content, updates and responses (and ultimately a whole lot of typing). Though this process seems easy and mechanical, communicating with the public across social media platforms is all but robotic.
Recently, I read an article on a study of the impact of human voice as applied to social media efforts and building a brand’s image: its customer devotion and reputation. Not surprisingly, the study found that people are more apt to trust, commit to and be satisfied with companies who “put a face” to their blog posts, Twitter and Facebook pages.
Seemingly light-hearted and easy-to-accomplish, this task involves a keen understanding of the company you’re branding, as well as a thorough understanding of the public’s perception of your brand. It’s like online catering in a way.
Your Twitter followers, Facebook fans (those who “like” your company) and the people engaging on your website’s blog, are all your friends. They’re also your customers—but the difference is, online, you both actually have the time for a conversation, to connect. Whereas in the past, face-to-face customer queries were lost in the wind if they weren’t answered at the moment they were asked. Social media platforms allow for documented, written interaction between brands-and-fans—making it possible to speak to everyone individually, and tweaking your voice as so.
Social media craftsmanship is a strand of DNA. Creatively constructing a human voice whilst catering to your brand and followers needs simultaneously is not something we’re all programmed to do.
Every single person interacting with your brand online is an individual with names, ideas, interests, and emotions. They’re no robots.
And although feeding Twitter is part of my robotic routine, in order to maintain brand reputation and increase trust, I pay close attention to the details of every individual I reply to, whether I’m answering a question, replying to their tweet, thanking them, delivering interesting news and so forth. Oftentimes posting on Facebook I’m offering information to several different groups of people, groups within those groups, more specifically: individuals within those groups. I have to be thoughtful, tactful and precise to share a message with all of them.
One of the best practices is listening to your fans. Read their recent tweets, their profile, get an idea of their voice and then modify yours in a way that is relatable and respectable. As humans, (especially those of us with social media embedded in our DNA) we have a tendency to speak differently with different crowds of people, and our voice is even more particular towards specific individuals. We address our friends by first names and nicknames (and now screen-names, the new nicknames).
I remember something my NYU professor of Internet Marketing told me on the first day of class: “Engagement, interaction…this is what opens doors, this is what allows for customer commitment, for trust. This is key to building a brand.”
It’s time to abandon the robotic tone of “Company. Must. Sell. Company. Is. Programmed. To. Sell” and apply a proper voice with suitable human character: humor, charm, charisma, whatever it may be—understand your audience. And remember: know the voice that fits your brand all the while.
Reach through your Apple or PC and give your brand’s fans a handshake. And tomorrow, a high-five.
Seema Shariat is the Digital Marketing Analyst for the Imagemme New York City office.