We’ve heard it since we were little kids. Your mom, your teachers, even Cat Stevens, telling you to be just ‘be you.’ Well, guess what? This little bit of advice doesn’t just apply to the ruthless halls of middle school.
A real, genuine voice is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of social media. People want real conversations, real interactions. The Internet used to be filled with silly screen names and avatars of puppies and kittens, but nowadays, social networking sites are, in the words of Mashable’s Christina Warren, “helping to put the “human” back in businesses again.”
Take it from someone that really likes social media, we don’t like spam. And I’m not just talking about those phony Twitter direct messages telling me you found a picture of me on the Internet (although, those are really annoying as well). Spam in social media comes from accounts that are all sell, sell, sell. Accounts that look and sound like their messages are generated by a machine.
I can’t say this enough, social media is about engagement. It is about the conversation. It is about involving your readers, your followers, your fans in the day-to-day processes of your company.
“The traditional messaging of yore has been replaced by businesses who actually appear to show that they care about their customers,” Warren writes. “Social media works best when it is personal and authentic, and thus, it’s important to make sure that the way you communicate when using social media tools comes from a personal and authentic place.”
And that’s why you have to do it.
To have that personal, authentic voice in social media, it has to be coming from you. Not someone you hired to do it for you.
In fact, Lee Odden of the Online Marketing Blog said that ‘outsourcing customer engagement’ was the biggest mistake companies make in social media. “Companies know their own business and customers best and lose opportunity by not participating themselves.”
So many companies are turning to marketing and public relations agencies to manage their social media, but at the end of that day, it’s you that knows your product or service best, it’s you that knows your company, that knows your customers, it’s you that should be the voice behind your brand. Sure, we can act as your guides, help you develop a strategy and measure your progress, but at the end of the day, people want to hear from you.
Imagine your company is attending a business networking event, but instead of going yourself, you hire a marketing agency to go on your behalf. Sure, the name tag might have your name on it, but the voice and personality just isn’t you. You owe it to your company, and to your customers, to take that wise, old advice and just ‘be yourself.’
Danielle Hohmeier writes about marketing and design in the digital world for Atomicdust, with a focus on marketing convergence and social media.