As businesses wade into social media, there’s an interesting choice to make about the voice of the brand. The falacy is that social media is free. But the people costs to do it properly are important to understand going into it. As much as I love Tony Hsieh’s approach at Zappos, not every CEO is capable of personally fronting the company in social media.
I enjoyed Ann Handley’s post on this topic: “The Right Voice for Your Brand Online is … (Pick One): The CEO? Head of Marketing? An Intern? or Who?”
I think the laziest (yet very common) option is the “Intern”, which illustrates just how low social media really falls on the priority list for many companies. Social media is a classic Intern assignment because it has unclear upside and little perceived risk of screwing it up.
But the Intern is often the least connected person in the organization. The Intern approach runs counter to the promise of social media improving the dialog between organizations and their consumers. Interns also need supervision, and the approval process detracts from the immediacy of social media.
I recently heard someone describe tweets and facebook updates as “copywriting”. It was a good reminder that social media dialog is every much a part of the voice of the brand as any other form of marketing (perhaps more so). It’s crucial to consider who is doing the talking and what they’re talking about.
If yours is a brand that markets from the inside out, this voice should come naturally from what you are already doing. If instead your voice is applied externally from an agency, you may need a bigger overhaul. Social media exposes Cyrano de Bergerac. Your consumers are increasingly demanding a real and meaningful conversation with your brand. And they likely won’t have that conversation with an Intern.
To think through the true investment of social media programs, I found the “Basics of Social Media ROI” from Olivier Blanchard a useful place to start.