I started managing the Newfangled Twitter account just before Christmas this past year. For several years leading up to that time, our Twitter handle had been very ably managed by our Creative Director, Justin Kerr. But since I was in the process of moving into a role with much deeper involvement in the everyday production of our content, it made sense for me to take over our Twitter account, too.
As I was getting started, Chris Butler asked me to keep a journal reflecting on my experience. Here are some of my thoughts coming out of that exercise.
When it Comes to Finding Your Company’s Voice on Social Media, Let Your Content Be Your Guide
I’ve produced content for and managed social media entities other than my own individual human self in a few contexts, and yet — even though I identify more completely with Newfangled than any of those other, never-to-be-named entities — I still felt that same old tension about voice as I prepared to take the reins this past December.
Really, though: what does it mean to be the “voice” of a corporation, even if only on social media? The courts may have ruled that corporations are individuals, but we all know that any company with a staff of two or more is a complex entity comprised of a range of people, disciplines, personalities, and (of course) business goals. For any one person to try and capture that complexity in a singular, non-schizophrenic way is a challenge. And, to do so without stripping that singular voice of all personality — especially the strange quirks and pockets of unusual perspective that form the inexplicable “you-ness” of any individual — is doubly hard. Moreover, the pace and culture of social media demand that you think fast on your feet and engage freely and improvisationally. That means carefully crafted marketing scripts alone won’t cut it.
I don’t mean to sound overly angsty about how it feels for an individual to run a Twitter account for an agency (if anything merits the #firstworldproblems hashtag, this is probably it), but I do think it’s a question worth reflecting on, especially when you consider that it’s a very human concern with very real business implications. After all, striking the right balance in terms of tone can make a huge difference in the success of your business’s social media efforts. And there will always be some inherent tension between any firm’s professional persona (which strives to demonstrate a firm’s positioning, expertise, and value proposition) and its cultural persona (which is based on a firm’s business and human values as filtered through the unique personalities of the people that work there).
This is all to say that when I first starting producing our Twitter content, I was pretty preoccupied with how to tread the line between my own personality and that of our business.
But then I realized something that may seem obvious: Newfangled’s collective “voice” has long since been established in the pages and pages of content on our website that have been written by our team over the years. Taken as a whole, a voice emerges from the pages that is by turns authoritative and serious-minded, playful and ranty, innovative and confessional. Throughout, there is a fascination with what’s happening in the world of web development, digital marketing, and tech, as well as what those changes mean, not just in terms of our industry but also in terms of their larger implications for culture and society. Once I’d figured that out, I really just needed to follow suit in terms of the tone I used on Twitter.
Assuming you’ve got a decent amount of content on your site — and assuming you’re happy with how that content represents your firm — then you’ve got the same rich resource at your disposal. So use it!
Feedback is Good, Even When It’s “Bad”
It’s easy to become territorial about the things we’re responsible for at work, especially those tasks that are done in a fairly autonomous fashion. That can certainly be the case with something like managing your firm’s social media account. But even if you’re operating solo, your social media content shouldn’t be produced in a vacuum. You need to be open to the feedback you are bound to receive from others within your organization — and that’s doubly true when the feedback is critical. Welcoming the evaluation and involvement of others in your organization ensures that your social media content reflects and furthers current marketing and business objectives. Which, of course, is the point.
On the flip side, it bears mentioning that you can also expect to receive feedback from the folks following your firm on social media. Hopefully this is mostly positive, but all of the feedback you receive — whether praise-filled or challenging — is an incredible resource, as it gives you valuable insight into how your business is perceived by others, including clients, potential leads, and other industry professionals.