If you haven’t already heard, social media is the way of the future. Anyone and everyone is willing to tell you – if you aren’t already, you and your business need to “get social”.

I am in total agreement with this statement – but, as with anything in life, if you’re going to do it, you should at least do it right. This leads us to our very first problem: what, exactly, is right? Which leads us to our second problem: there is no right.

In the digital world, the only right that does exist is what is right for your business.

As every organization scrambles to join Facebook, Twitter and the likes, there are so many factors to take into consideration: What is our purpose? How do we extend our brand online? How do we gather the information we get from our users? Who is going to monitor our channels? What content are we going to create and share? The questions are endless – and so are the answers.

An area of opportunity I see for almost every organization in the online world is the concept of “digital voice”. Whether most brands are self-aware or not, the content and tone they employ creates the feeling their customers experience when visiting their online channels. Liken it to a company’s physical outlet – all of its inputs (staff training, product and music) work to create the experience that a customer feels when they walk through the door.

The goal is to have no separation between the two: your customers come to your social page and get the same sort of content and experience that they would visiting you in person, or consuming your products.

I’ve included a few examples, both good and bad, to highlight my point. They can be found below:

on Twitter
The “Starbucks” of tea, DAVIDsTEA is the expert when it comes to anything tea related. When I walk into a DAVIDsTEA store, I am always amazed by the exceptional knowledge that their staff has to offer. On their Twitter page, however, this exceptional niche is lost in unrelated, scattered content creation and a too-casual tone by their resident Tweeter, Hannah. Most consumers follow a brand to know what the brand is up to – not the person behind it.

Brock University on Facebook
This is the first Canadian university I have seen fully leveraging social media to advance their “brand” – by attracting potential students and acting as a resource for current ones. Brock U’s page has become a hub of information and the go-to for any Brock-related question – all created and facilitated by its friendly, encouraging ‘voice’, and intentional content. It says in their sidebar “We’re social”, and they certainly are.

Foursquare on Facebook and Twitter
I know – a bit strange, but Foursquare has done an excellent job of sharing their story through social media channels. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Foursquare has managed to humanize their product through the narrative which they create and share. Like the little engine that could, Foursquare’s followers have had the opportunity to share in the celebration of their many milestones. This year, users felt so strongly about the company that they created Foursquare Day! Following Foursquare, it’s impossible to forget that real people are running their business – a major feat for an ever-growing platform.

What are the learnings that we can gather from these brands?

Organizations must be self-aware – each update, tweet, post or share creates a specific experience for the user and speaks volumes about the brand itself. Brands must think intentionally about the language, tone, and sentiment in which they are communicating with their followers, and further, the impact of these choices. A strong voice creates a strong connection between brand and consumer.

In your opinion, what organizations have (or haven’t!) found their “digital voice”? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Photo Credit: Matthew Whatley

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