Keeping It REAL In Social Media

When I am consulting and speaking about Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms and best practices surrounding a social media presence one of my favourite topics to cover is how to find your voice in social media.

A 2011 survey revealed 81 percent of small/medium businesses are actively integrating social media into their marketing strategies. Using social media to create engagement opportunities with customers, suppliers, and even employees can be a fantastic way to boost engagement, maximize loyalty and reduce customer churn. But still many businesses are finding it difficult, and even scary, to test the social media waters. Venturing into social media forces a business to ask: How do people see us? What are our social media goals? What will we say? Who will we talk to?

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When it comes to crafting a social media voice, there is a simple but effective mnemonic tool you can use to keep your goal in focus. Regardless of whether you are an individual or a brand, SPARKER asserts 4 simple tenets to keeping it
R E A L in social media.

  1. R E L E V A N T: Talk about things relevant to your brand, expertise or topics that interest/appeal to your audience. This provides a broad scope of topics that you can manipulate to tell your brand story and share brand values while conversing with your audience about timely issues.
  2. E N G A G I N G: We’ve all been to a dinner party where we’re seated next to someone who talks solely about him/herself. Not fun, huh? To be successful with social media, your voice must be engaging. Remember, social media is not about you. It’s about your audience. You are trying to reach your customers and fans and find out how to best serve them, how to get them buying from you more often, or using your services over a competitor’s. You will never learn any of that if you only talk about yourself. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—listen twice as much as you talk. Social media is about dialogue, not broadcast or monologue—so ask compelling questions formulated to elicit answers that provide insight into what your customers want more of. Then deliver it.
  3. A U T H E N T I C: Does your social media voice actively reflect what your brand represents? If someone reads one of your tweets or posts can they “tell” it’s yours because it “sounds” like you? They should be able to. Speak in an authentic  voice that best mirrors your brand values and is sincere. Transparency and disclosure are key where appropriate also. Cultivating a voice of authenticity will build a solid brand reputation and assure your customers you are a brand to be trusted and supported.
  4. L I V I N G: How many times have you tweeted a brand or individual or attempted to post to their Facebook page and discovered their last post was in 2009? Once you take the leap into social media, craft a plan and keep the brand voice alive by regularly posting to your platforms and keeping it alive with new content and ideas. Constantly fine-tune your strategy and tactics (they are different) to find what works.

Following these 4 simple guidelines will help craft a compelling, enticing social media presence. Keeping that voice in optimal shape will generate returns that prove your investment in social media is a long-term gain strategy and will benefit those with a game plan with a thirst for ongoing knowledge and a desire to always serve the needs and wants of your audience (especially the ones they don’t yet know they have).

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How do you keep it REAL in social media? What lessons would you share with those just entering the social media space?