5 Steps to Make Your Organization Sound Human Online

make your organization sound more human onlineFacebook, Twitter, LinkedIn–you have them not just for yourself, but also for your organization, too. It’s easy enough to chat with a Facebook friend about your new car or your kids, but it’s quite another thing to share part of your organization using a corporate Facebook page or Twitter account.

Sounding like a friendly human while representing an organization can be a challenge, especially in the 140-character spaces that sites like Twitter provide. It’s hard to sound human in a text box! Thankfully, there’s a solution. With just a few tweaks to your organization’s online corporate communications, you can quickly give your organization a more human-sounding voice.

Here are five steps to creating a more human-sounding organization online:

Type Like You Talk

Make sure to type like you talk. This is hard for many of us. After all, in school we learned how to write business letters from grammatically correct sentences.

That writing style worked fine for school, but it doesn’t work in social media! An easy way to fix this is to simply read, out loud, what you just typed. Does it sound like something you would actually say? If not, rewrite. The goal is to create a conversational writing style that connects with customers.

Be Visual

Social media tools like Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and Pinterest all share something in common. They’re all highly visual social media tools. They’re popular because they’re visual – people like to see stuff.

For a business, customers like to see your new products – not just read about them. They enjoy watching a video of that non-profit doing what they do, or see a product manager talk about the new product line. Combine this with the gear you already have in your pockets (your smartphone does video and photography quite well), and there’s nothing holding you back from visually sharing with customers.

Use Video to Connect

With video, no one wants to see your CEO dressed up in a business suit, reciting a memorized script about a new service. Instead, they want to see Jane, the customer service rep they just talked to, take a minute out of her day to share something helpful. A shortcut, a quick tip, or even a short product review becomes infinitely more powerful–and more engaging–when it’s shared as a video clip.

Video is a great way to quickly share useful information with customers. Share it in a conversational tone, and you will start connecting with customers via video.

Ask Questions

Here’s a trick that you can use with practically ANY social media tool – visual or text-based. Simply ask a question. Ask, and people answer. Ask customers about the use of your products or services. Ask about likes and improvements customers would like to see.

The trick isn’t so much the asking, but what you plan to do with the answers. Here’s what I’d suggest – use those answers to do number 5!

Celebrate Customer Loyalty

Make sure to celebrate your customers! You can do this in many ways using social media tools. For example, why not thank people for commenting on your Facebook Page or for sharing their thoughts about a new service. If a customer buys one of your products and shares a photo, leave a comment on their photo!

Notice customers and interact with them as they use your products and services, and you’ll come across as being more human. Work on creating content with a conversational tone, be more visual, incorporate short videos, ask questions, and celebrate customers. Insert your personal touch into every interaction you have with customers in the process, and they will come back for more.

David Lee King is the Digital Services Director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, where he plans, implements, and experiments with emerging technology trends. He speaks internationally about emerging trends, website management, digital experience, and social media, and has been published in many library-related journals. David was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker for 2008. His newest book, Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections, was published in September. David writes the Outside/In column in American Libraries Magazine with Michael Porter, and maintains a blog at http://www.davidleeking.com.

Image by markheybo via Creative Commons

  • http://freetraffictip.com Tinu

    Type like you talk is a huge tip. Seems like a small thing, but whenever I run into this from a company I am beyond thrilled.

  • ShellyKramer

    Me too, Tinu!

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  • http://www.hisocial.com/ Hisocial

    These are nice tips, but would you make any difference, regarding your communication strategy, between Twitter and Facebook?

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

    I love your suggestion Shelly of typing like you talk.

    One fun way I think people can better at this is by reading fiction novels. A great fiction does an absolutely magical job of helping you hear the voice of a cut throat brigand (thug in mid evil times) from the fantasy world of Game of Thrones, the Ebonics of a thug from Detroit as in the case of Elmore Leonard or a redneck thug from the swamps of Florida as in the case of Carl Hiaasen. And they do it all with text.

    Like you said, for most people the only writing we’ve done since school is texting or social media with friends type stuff. But there’s a cool, casually dressed middle ground in between sounding too informal and sounding too formal that works in your favor which allows your writing to be invisible and flow through the mind easily . . . like that of a compelling novel.

    Too many “professional” people scoff at reading what they deem to be “trash fiction” but if someone is at all serious about having their writing voice sound as human as possible, they’ll budget some of their TV entertainment time towards creating imaginary worlds and scenarios in their mind via the written word.

    Steven King’s knee jerk, one-sentence answer to fledgling fiction writers who ask him to improve their writing is, “Read a lot and write a lot.” I believe this advice applies to content marketers just the same.

    I flat out guarantee, find the books you like written by masterful authors, and it’s the easiest, the funnest and most engaging under the radar learning that you’ll ever experience.

  • ShellyKramer

    What a great idea, Lewis. And I agree – reading a lot is not only how I know a lot (debatable, to be sure), but also how I’m able to write a lot. And in a down-to-earth, human sounding fashion. Love your thoughts on that … totally spot on!

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

    And the next level of conversational writing magic is when you can bring strong ideas to life, simply presenting them in the context of a dialogue as the author of Game of Thrones has done here taking you inside the learning a little 9 year old girl has with her master while learning the art of swordsmanship . . .

    “High,” Syrio Forel called out, slashing at her head. The stick swords clacked as Arya parried.

    “Left,” he shouted, and his blade came whistling. Hers darted to meet it. The clack made him click his teeth together.

    “Right,” he said, and “Low,” and “Left,” and “Left” again, faster and faster, moving forward. Arya retreated before him, checking each blow.

    “Lunge,” he warned, and when he thrust she sidestepped, swept his blade away, and slashed at his shoulder. She almost touched him, almost so close it made her grin. A strand of hair dangled in her eyes, limp with sweat. She pushed it away with the back of her hand.

    “Left,” Syrio sang out. “Low.” His sword was a blur, and the Small Hall echoed to the clack clack clack. “Left. Left. High. Left. Right. Left. Low. Left!”

    The wooden blade caught her high in the breast, a sudden stinging blow that hurt all the more because it came from the wrong side. “Ow,” she cried out. She would have a fresh bruise there by the time she went to sleep, somewhere out at sea. A bruise is a lesson, she told herself, and each lesson makes us better.

    Syrio stepped back. “You are dead now.”

    Arya made a face. “You cheated,” she said hotly. “You said left and you went right.”

    “Just so. And now you are a dead girl.”

    “But you lied!”

    “My words lied. My eyes and my arm shouted out the truth, but you were not seeing.”

    “I was so,” Arya said. “I watched every second!”

    “Watching is not seeing, dead girl. The water dancer sees. Come, put down the sword, it is time for listening now.”

    She followed him over to the wall, where he settled onto a bench. “Syrio Forel was first sword to the Sealord of Braavos, and are you knowing how that came to pass?”

    “You were the finest swordsman in the city.”

    “Just so, but why? Other men were stronger, faster, younger, why was Syrio Forel the best? I will tell you now.” He touched the tip of his little finger lightly to his eyelid.

    “The seeing, the true seeing, that is the heart of it.

    “Hear me. The ships of Braavos sail as far as the winds blow, to lands strange and wonderful, and when they return their captains fetch queer animals to the Sealord’s menagerie.

    Such animals as you have never seen, striped horses, great spotted things with necks as long as stilts, hairy mouse-pigs as big as cows, stinging manitcores, tigers that carry their cubs in a pouch, terrible walking lizards with scythes for claws. Syrio Forel has seen these things.

    “On the day I am speaking of, the first sword was newly dead, and the Sealord sent for me. Many bravos had come to him, and as many had been sent away, none could say why. When I came into his presence, he was seated, and in his lap was a fat yellow
    cat. He told me that one of his captains had brought the beast to him, from an island beyond the sunrise. ‘Have you ever seen her like?’ he asked of me.

    “And to him I said, ‘Each night in the alleys of Braavos I see a thousand like him,’ and the Sealord laughed, and that day I was named the first sword.”

    Arya screwed up her face. “I don’t understand.”

    Syrio clicked his teeth together. “The cat was an ordinary cat, no more. The others expected a fabulous beast, so that is what they saw. How large it was, they said. It was no larger than any other cat, only fat from indolence, for the Sealord fed it from his own table.

    What curious small ears, they said. Its ears had been chewed away in kitten fights. And it was plainly a tomcat, yet the Sealord said ‘her,’ and that is what the others saw. Are you hearing?”

    Arya thought about it. “You saw what was there.”

    “Just so. Opening your eyes is all that is needing. The heart lies and the head plays tricks with us, but the eyes see true. Look with your eyes. Hear with your ears. Taste with your mouth. Smell with your nose. Feel with your skin. then comes the thinking, afterward, and in that way knowing the truth.”

    “Just so,” said Arya, grinning.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I lust for the ability to drive a point home so sweetly. And I trust that what will take me to the next level will be direct feedback from a master coach in writing as Arya had in Syrio for mastering the sword. If you have any suggestions of master teacher in this art Shelly, I would be more than open to hear of them. :)

  • ShellyKramer

    Wow! There are many awesome writing coaches and clinics out there. I’m just not sure what direction to point you. But goodness, that is mastery!!

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