Atmosphere tends to be overlooked when thinking through what it means to be digital today. Being digital now encompasses having an effective website and incorporating a social media presence into your business.
Think of the areas in which atmosphere means something to us. We crave it and often go to great lengths to establish it in:
• our homes
• our office space(s)
• where we eat
• where we socialize.
And for many, even the places we carve out for quiet reading and writing require atmosphere for our highest focus.
Yet when strategizing how to be social, we can get caught in a crossfire of the mechanics of strategy and tactics aimed at clicks, follows, likes and more — too often without some context to allow for it to be authentic and to feel closer to natural.
Some introspection can help your efforts integrate better into your everyday process.
YOUR CULTURE AND YOUR VOICE
Your business, regardless of size, has a core identity that started with why you hung out a shingle in the first place. The beliefs informing that launch formed the voice through which you interact with your customers, partners and influencers. Likewise, the atmosphere you established to find joy in your office (be it the kitchen table or a corporate setting) impacts that voice.
Consider how you train your staff to engage with your clients in the office or when meeting in person. What tone do you use in written communications with them? Extend that to them as a consideration for when they engage on social networks — be it personal or business.
How tragic a mistake would it be to use some generic recipe when interacting on social media? And how many of your customers would see right through it?
FUNDAMENTAL NO. 1: THE MEDIUM
Think about how you like to communicate. Do you prefer to write, speak or draw? To your advantage, all of those media are supported on social platforms. This means don't try to force yourself into a persona, but do what you love to do and bring that to your social-media content.
In doing so, you not only find the effort of creating and sharing ideas less burdensome, but your natural voice will be apparent to those who follow and engage with you. They will sense the atmosphere.
To be sure, atmosphere is a subjective thing in many cases (i.e. one person's junk is another's treasure), but we all have some fundamental agreement when we experience it. As examples, I thought I would note some social profiles where I've experienced this. They span a couple of categories:
• Analysis & insights
• Transparency & accessibility
• Niche focus
• Approachable & friendliness
(That's not to say there is not crossover on these accounts, but I would suggest that if you follow them and engage for any length of time, you will see the categorization unfold and sense the atmosphere.)
PROFILES WITH ATMOSPHERE
• I met Pat Allen via Twitter and have also hired her for some projects I've run in the past (disclosing my bias!). Her Rock the Boat Marketing blog is one of my go-to reads weekly. It gives me a view into the asset management segment of financial services. More compelling, the analysis always feels fresh, with solid conclusions, while also provoking me to apply that analysis to my own efforts. If you follow Pat, you'll also notice the rhythm of her posts has nice balance versus some accounts that push dozens of posts per hour at you. @rocktheboatmktg
• Buffer takes transparency to a whole new level. Recently, the company's co-founder chose to publish the financial condition and details of its platform's performance. As a co-founder of a startup, I was powerfully influenced by this liberating action. The firm takes it further by surfacing the underlying team at an individual level on social media along with the corporate presence. I have used Buffer support and get incredibly smart and fast responses. Being a tech firm, it has a higher volume of output on social media but I find the spirit of how it engages far outweighs any quantity fatigue. @bufferapp
• A more recent discovery for me was Horace Dediu, an analyst who pores over product markets and product companies. He is an excellent example of someone with expansive research and analytics skills who is disciplined in remaining laser-focused in the market segments of interest to him. He has especially strong insights into Apple Inc. @asympco
• The Vanguard Group Inc. definitely has a smart group of folks thinking about how to be digital, and they know their audience and customers. They have a wide footprint on social media and use it thoughtfully and with some fun. Pay attention to the firm's content across platforms and how and when it links those posts. It takes a commitment and practice to look so relaxed and accessible, an example for financial services firms to explore. @vanguard_group
As you evaluate these particular examples, also consider those you've already been connected with on other social-media platforms. Who are those you prefer to follow, stay current with or engage with comments or follow up contact? Why?
Yes, establishing a rhythm and extending your voice to social media is subjective. Yet we all know things in life that are subjective and we navigate them. How do we know? For lack of a better expression — you know it when you see it (or sense it, when it comes to atmosphere).
Blane Warrene is senior vice president for customer communications at RegEd.