Be Yourself: Authentic Brand Voice in Social Media

Social Media

  • Think about what makes your shop unique.
  • Is it the location or shop decor? Maybe.
  • Is it the product? No, most shops sell good products.

What’s left? You of course, your people, and the welcoming smile and positive vibe you send towards customers walking through your doors. All of the first elements mentioned play a part, but the employee ultimately makes the connection and builds the relationship.

Why then do we too often see businesses underutilizing their authentic brand voice in their social media channels, or worse, being completely unauthentic in a very public way?

The responses I get vary from “there is not enough time,” to, “I just don’t know how.” I buy neither and argue that being who you are is so much easier than being who you are not. Your customers like you for being you, so let’s work on enabling your authentic brand voice and let it shine through.

Find a Muse

Instead of jumping into uncharted waters, start by identifying a muse (shops or brands you aspire to be like) - those whose social posts you always look forward to consuming. Note their cadence and demeanor, and pay special attention to the way they respond to their followers. For me, Castelli, Skratch Labs and Chipotle all come to mind immediately. I’m sure others do for you.

Identifying Your Shop’s Personality

You are your shop’s personality. Consider what about your work, products, or community really interests you. What do you talk about at the shop with customers as you are changing a tire or walking through the tech specs of a new model on the showroom floor?

The demeanor you have there should be directly reflected in the tone you take and the content you share on the shop’s social media channels. If your shop is high-end all the way and your tone in store is always proper and professional, that’s great. You wouldn’t then be quirky and fun in social. Visa versa, quirky shops (yes, you’re out there and we love you for it) shouldn’t be straight edge online. The discrepancies are very apparent - just be yourself.

Leverage Your Employees to Deliver Value

You don’t need to go this alone. Be willing to give the voice over to your (trusted) front-line workers. These are the folks that are asked important questions every day and they know how to respond. Allowing them to share their excitement for the shop and it’s products can be an educational experience for not only the customer, fan or follower, but also for the employee.

This enabling of the employees to be an extension of the brand and it’s voice is very apparent and very relevant in this tweet by Joe from Chipotle.

Chipotle has done an amazing job of subtly establishing the personalities of a few key members of their team, and you can too. Using your employees to provide a voice and context to your social media content, publically shows your customers that you really do eat, sleep and breath bikes, and that you’re inviting them to join you. It creates a connection that is carried with them as they walk (or ride) through your door.

The Takeaway

Trust your gut. If you’re trying to come up with a new social post or a response to a customer online and it just doesn’t “feel right” to you, it probably isn’t. Think about what you or one of your employees would say if the audience was standing on the other side of the shop counter. Then say exactly that.

About The Author

Paul Haskell

Paul Haskell

Paul Haskell led social strategy at one of the country's largest gourmet food companies, and now offers independent social media consulting for small businesses.