This past week archivist and rare books cataloger Janine Veazue posted about managing her company’s new Twitter account, and her quandary over what ‘voice’ she should use when posting. This is something all organizations face when using social media – how do you represent yourself in an online community of people and organizations?
I ran my archives’ Twitter feed for about a year, and I had the same uncertainty about voice sometimes. I think it all depends on the kind of place you work at and the face they present to the public. I always advocate for an organization’s voice to be friendly, casual, and approachable on social media, so that users/customers feel like they’re interacting with a person rather than a faceless organization. You want to build relationships, and to do that you have to talk to people, not talk at people. At the same time, I know other people who’ve had to follow very strict rules about what they could post and how they could post on Twitter and other platforms.
The good thing for Janine is that it sounds like she might already be a part of the community her office wants to join. She knows how these users interact with each other and how they talk. She can take a look at how all of these users present themselves and their organizations, and base her office’s voice on that.
One last thing to consider is whether your supervisor/manager understands how Twitter works. Ask them what they think about your voice vs. your company’s voice. For example, maybe they don’t mind Janine speaking as herself on the @BN_Collectibles account rather than speaking as B&N Collectibles on the account. If your organization wants to a more “official” voice, you can still present a friendly, personable front while sticking closer to the company voice.
In the end, your organization should establish some sort of guidelines (either a policy or a loose definition) addressing the kind of voice you will use on your platforms and stick to it. That way – whatever voice you feel most comfortable with – you will have a consistent tone and presence. And if someone else takes over the accounts, they have an idea of what voice they should aspire to use.
Make sure to leave a comment for Janine if you have any advice. The tweets she’s sent out so far are casual and fun enough to present her company as a friendly voice rather than a corporate entity, and that’s the kind of company I’d follow on Twitter.