Practical Steps to Getting Started in Social Media – Step 4: Develop Your Voice

social media voiceContinuing our series Practical Steps to Getting started in Social Media…  So far we’ve discussed

Now it’s time to start getting serious.  It’s time to make some decisions.  It’s time for…

Step 4: Develop Your Voice

In step 3, as you mingle with people in social media, you start to notice that just as each person in real life has a unique personality, each person in social media also has a unique personality.  As you begin to step out of the shadows and really engage with people in social media, it’s time to figure out your unique personality.

Start with this question…

What do you want to accomplish through this social network?

  • Keep in touch with friends and family?
  • Learn and engage with others in my career field?
  • Advance a cause?
  • Generate business leads or sales?
  • Make a living as a blogger or social media celeb?

Then follow that with…

Who is your primary audience?

  • Friends and family?
  • Colleagues?
  • People who share a passion for your cause?
  • Prospective customers? If so, what do they look like?

Once you’ve answered these 2 questions, then consider these 6 aspects of your social media voice.

1) Topics – What are the primary topics you’re going to post about?  The key here is to focus on 1 or 2 things.  Remember your target audience.  If you post about the stock market, traveling, farm implements, web design, movies, and the plight of the key deer, few people are going to connect with you because only a small percentage of your updates are going to be relevant to anyone’s interests.  For example, I primarily tweet about leadership, faith, and social media, and in particular where they overlap.  I do have a number of other interests, but I try to stay on topic as much as possible.

2) Type of content – What are you going to post?  Links to blog posts?  Videos? Inspiration quotes?  Funny stories?  Questions to gain input or discussion among your connections?  Updates on what you’re doing at the moment?   Not that you have to rule in or out any particular type of content, but what will be most helpful to your audience?  What do you want to be known for?

3) Inner circle – While social media is all about engagement, none of us has time to engage with hundreds or thousands of people equally.  You don’t want to ignore anyone, but you will need to give priority to the people you want to engage with most.  Who will you retweet or reply to regularly? Who do you want to build the strongest relationships with?  This is another aspect of your social media voice.

4) Frequency – How often are you going to post updates?  Be careful not to overdo it or you’ll annoy people and they’ll disengage from you.

5) Style – What tone do you want to use in your updates? Are they going to be professional sounding or contain a lot of slang?  Are they going to have a lot of insider/industry terms or not?  Are you going to be sarcastic? Cynical? Whimsical? Intellectual?

6) Personal – It’s a good idea not to be all business in social media.  People connect with people, and they want to know you’re a real person.  It’s good to mix in some personal updates about family, trips, funny incidents, and other interests.  It’s a good idea to go in with a target as to approximately what percentage of your updates are going to be personal or off your main topic.

I’ll close with 2 final thoughts.

Evolve – As much as I advocate going into social media with a plan, as you become more familiar with a social media platform, your use of it and your voice will evolve, so don’t feel like you have to have everything figured out before your start.

Be yourself – “Developing your voice” may sound like you’re inventing a whole new person, but it shouldn’t be.  You want to be relevant and interesting to your target audience, which means filtering out (not posting about) things that are irrelevant or uninteresting to them.  But be true to your values, interests, and personality.

Have you given consideration to the topics, type of content, inner circle, post frequency, style, and the personal stuff you post about?  If so, how have you intentionally shaped your social media voice?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

5 Responses to “Practical Steps to Getting Started in Social Media – Step 4: Develop Your Voice”

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