Do You Have A Personal Tone of Voice Guideline for Social Media?

06 Jul
July 6, 2014

So if you read my tweets after about 7.30 on any given night, you’ll know I have an unhealthy appetite for reality TV. If you follow me for a 6 week period over June and July during State of Origin, you’ll know I tend to get very vocal about the game.

I’ll pass judgement on contestants or the other team, because that’s what any supporter would do, and there is a conversation to be part of.

Through all of it though, fired up passion is tempered and guided by what I have deemed my personal social media tone of voice guidelines.

Why is this kind of guideline important?

Those of us who manage corporate social media know the importance of a tone of voice guideline for a brand, one that embodies the spirit and matches the impression we want people to have of the work that gets done.

So why should your personal use be any different?

Every day, your digital footprint is getting bigger, and more of that content is being captured and indexed for all to see. If you’re trying to build a name for yourself, in any industry, this is something you need to be conscious of. Employers are increasingly using social to screen candidates – what will they find when they look at yours?

I’m not talking about a formal document, just a set of guiding principles. For a lot of the time, and I am sure for a lot of people, this is second nature.

My Rules of the Road

There are always considerations before I post anything.

Is what I am about to post likely to offend, or create debate? If it’s the former, why do I need to post it? If it’s the latter, am I willing to engage in the conversation and back it up?

Are there any commercial arrangements with my employer that I need to be aware of? As I have spoken about before, disclaiming your opinions as independent of your employer can mean little, and shouldn’t be used to abdicate responsibility for your actions.

Two smaller considerations – with the exception of Facebook, nothing featuring kids or family. And I never swear on social – it adds nothing, and uses up characters…

Does this take away from your being genuine, being one of the key tenants of social? Absolutely not. You can still be genuine on social media without having to post everything that pops into your head.

It’s Still You

Regardless of what sort of guidelines you have for yourself, it still has to be you. Think about it as aspects of your personality.

I am very deliberate in how I use the channels I am across, and the narrow choice of channels I use makes it easy:

Facebook - A place to be myself. These people know me, they’re friends and family. Privacy settings mean I can disagree and debate, and talk about the things that they expect me to talk about, and perhaps be a little more free and easy than I would be on Twitter.

Twitter – Here, I share my thoughts on a variety of things, posts I find interesting, replies to people I agree or disagree with (guided by the above), and being part of the conversation about things taking place. There’s probably more consideration here about what I post than anywhere else.

LinkedIn – purely professional, here I post stories and links that are all business and represent points of view I think are worthy of sharing. It’s about giving those who follow my updates an insight into how I think business wise.

So that’s it – as I said, it’s not a formal, written policy, as a corporate TOV may be. But it’s no less important to your personal brand to be guided by some principles.

What about you? Do you consider how and what you post in line with beliefs or a tone of voice guideline?

PHOTO – Dwayne via Flickr

Where Social Selling Goes Wrong

30 Jun
June 30, 2014

There are differing schools of thought on LinkedIn connections, but I’ve always been of the view that it’s not the number of connections (I’m looking at you people who put in your connection count as part of your name), it’s the quality of them. I’ll admit though, I sometimes accept LinkedIn connections from people I don’t necessarily know or have worked with, when I think their updates might be an interesting read.

This leads, at times to the unsolicited pitch email for business, something that many of us now accept as part of the social process.

Where the process of social selling seems to break down though, is that there are too many assumptions, not enough research, and the misplaced notion that a social connection is a sufficient substitute for building a relationship.

If you’re using social to sell, it shouldn’t be different to any other sales process or social media engagement. It starts with listening.

To illustrate, I got one such email last week from a new connection, which began by saying “I wanted to reach out to you to tell you about our business”.

If an email begins like this, you would hope that the person sending it has done some research into the business you work in. It became obvious in the space of the email that they had not.

A better start to a sales email would be “I wanted to reach out and ask you about your business”. This should be the beginning of a conversation, not a straight out pitch.

It then closed by saying “I would love to make some time to come and discuss how we could help”. Another assumption - that there is something they can help with.

How could they close it better? “If you think you have a need for the service we offer, I’d be happy to discuss further”.

While social media is not new, the notion of social selling is still a grey area, particularly given so much advice is “whatever you do, don’t sell”.

But it can be used to build effective relationships, if there is a genuine need for a product. There are common challenges that many face, but this shouldn’t be a substitute for effort to identify a prospect.

As an example, yesterday I tweeted this to Buffer, who are on of my favourite tools to use list:

Within 10 minutes, I had a rep from HootSuite reply to tell me that HS did support G+ and to reach out if I would like to know more. Perfect, low touch reply – just to let me know there is an option if I want to know more. 

This is the kind of opening you should aim for when social selling.

Listen for the opportunities. Never assume because you know where someone works and what they do that the challenges they face are the same as the last person you sold to.

How about you? Any great (or not so great) social sales pitches or processes you’ve seen?

PHOTO – Michael via Flickr

The Taxi Industry Is Being Disrupted – But Are They Helping Themselves?

16 Jun
June 16, 2014

I read a whole lot of coverage last week of the protests by cab drivers in Europe over the launch of Uber in their respective markets, and the threat to the livelihood of the established industry.

It got me thinking – these guys are facing an upstart that is derailing a decades old business by doing it better and making it easier, but aside from protesting about it, are they doing enough to improve themselves?

Despite their recent Sydney launch, my only experience with Uber so far was in San Francisco about a month ago. The doorman at the hotel hailed a cab for three of us, and the driver steadfastly refused (not even winding down a window to say no, just a shake of the head) to move his bag from the front seat or even unlock the passenger door of the car to accommodate all of us. So two of us piled out of the backseat of the cab, and grabbed an Uber car to our meeting in the space of minutes.

Until now there’s been little choice – you grab the next cab, maybe vent on Twitter, and then move on. Now, with more choices in response to poor customer experience and service, an industry finds itself threatened, and things like this highlight the shortcomings of why.

The industry needs to accept the fact that Uber, with a valuation of $18 billion already, isn’t going anywhere in a hurry, and get on with working out how to make their own business competitive again through improving customer experience

Personally, I can’t wait to try it in Sydney. If I think back to the last three times I have caught a taxi, one asked me to guide him to my destination, another took a “shortcut” that ended up costing me more, and one ear bashed me with his colourful views on politics. With a strike rate like that, why wouldn’t I want to try something better for less?

PHOTO – David Holt via Flickr