Why Do I Need To Develop An Online “Voice”?

You already have a website and a blog, and now you want to add social media accounts to your online brand and marketing. Since you’ve already successfully maintained your website and blog, it should be a piece of cake to join these social media services and immediately begin communicating with your existing and prospective customers.

Do you remember the first time you composed an email? How comfortable were you with the process? Were you too formal? Too casual? Do you compose emails in the same way now as you did back then? Now think back to the first time you composed a text message on a cell phone! Do you compose text messages now in the same fashion as the first one you sent?

It is likely that in the years since you composed your first email and text, you’ve learned many informal rules that you now use daily when composing electronic messages. Some of them relate to character restraints, others may apply to the use of abbreviations, acronyms or even emoticons (the small smiley faces used to convey emotions in emails and texts). However, it is likely that the most important rules apply to the specific ‘net etiquette (or “netiquette”) that has grown around electronic communication. Without the proper use of netiquette, the recipient of your message may become bored, irritated or even offended by your improper use of the medium. They may delete your message before reading it or even respond in a negative manner.

On your blog, you established your own rules and adopted the platform to fit your needs and the needs of your business. But social media services have their own rules already in place, and due to the permanence of public Internet posts there is no allowance or forgiveness for errors. Before you begin posting to these sites, it is important to learn how each site operates and what constitutes acceptable postings or messages. In short, you should successfully adopt your message to each service while at the same time maintaining a proper level of consistency across the Internet. This will be the basis of your online voice!

Where Do I Begin?

The best way to learn how to properly adopt to the rules and netiquette of a social media service is to “lurk”, or spend time reading the postings and messages of others before contributing to the conversations yourself. This will allow you to observe how regular and veteran users of the service compose messages and interact with each other. You will quickly observe a patterns of behavior that are acceptable to the majority of users on each service.

If you are unfamiliar with social media services like Twitter or Facebook, you may need to seek out accounts to observe. Also, if your social media experiences are limited to personal use of these services, you may want to review how successful businesses use the service, as opposed to the accounts of friends or family members. If you are seeking a hip, playful online voice, the Facebook and Twitter pages of Skittles candy are great examples of how a brand has utilized social media to engage customers.