A suggestion many give when asked how to use Social Media is:
“Just be yourself, and it will all work out.”
The thought behind that answer is that this should be easy enough to help you get started without over-thinking the process. After all, we all know how to be ourselves, right? We’ve been doing it for years. It’s second nature to us.
IS IT THAT EASY?
Well, it is and it isn’t.
It CAN BE that easy if the business, brand or persona you are representing in these spaces is only yours, and the personal side of you complements the business side of you. That’s not always the case.
Sometimes the business side of you needs to be a bit more serious than the personal you.
Sometimes the business side of you needs to be a bit more casual than the personal you.
Sometimes the business side of you needs to take charge, and help your clients through a crisis, thus calling up that side of you that is very serious, caring and responsible.
It ISN’T that easy when the business, brand or persona you are representing in these spaces is a firm, company or a collection of people, products and services.
Let’s talk about that a little bit today.
In that case, being yourself might not be appropriate at all. Being the company is. Sometimes we have to acknowledge and understand that we are employed or engaged to represent that which is very different than we are personally. I’m not saying doing something that runs counter to our beliefs and values, which is another topic entirely.
What I am saying is that you need to understand the culture, the personality, the staff, the professionals, management, the clients, potential clients and the goals of all who go in to making up your firm if you are holding yourself out as a representative of that firm in Social Media.
How do we get from here to there?
As you will often hear me say, or will read in the words I write……we must start with an intelligent discussion, a strategy discussion.
DEFINING THE VOICE
We need to understand the behaviors that our firm has decided are consistent with its brand, with what it intends to exhibit when it helps its clients, what it shows when its people are out in the community helping with a service project, and even when it is in casual conversation with its target audiences.
Is it a maverick firm?
Is it a pensive, cautious firm?
Is it a firm with a huge sense of humor?
Is it a firm that cares about its causes?
Imagine if it is a maverick firm, but those representing the firm are using overly cautious, sky-is-falling anecdotes in its conversations around the Social Web. Will clients and potential clients have a good sense what the firm stands for…probably not.
Yes, this takes work. I’ve written before that this takes time. Marketing and communicating with clients is not a quick, get straight to the punchline, close a sale today, be yourself and throw caution to the wind kind of discipline.
Yes, it might look a little messy at first. Getting everyone in the room, whether virtual or actual, and throwing words on paper or computer that define this voice will produce a lot of content when the discussion is moderated properly. It might look like there are too many behaviors to define and emulate, but this step is essential to figuring out what your voice is to the public. Trust me, it can be done.
What will come out of this process is a blueprint to help not only the Community Manager or Social Media Strategist of your firm, or those you pay to perform that function, understand what kind of voice to use, but it will also help others who are a part of your firm understand what behavior, and what voice, they can use to help you accomplish your goals.
So, yes, by all means, be yourself if and when it is appropriate, but also understand that being in business sometimes takes a little more thought than that.
Be willing to spend the time it takes to find and define your voice.