Who is Your Social Media Voice?

The folks over at Social Media Today had an interesting post up yesterday about some tweets posted by the folks at TSA (@TSABlogTeam) over the Thanksgiving holiday. The author felt the tweets in question (can be found at the original post linked above) were unprofessional given the current situation (you know what I’m talking about).

I can definitely see the authors point here, but I wonder. The vast majority of folks aren’t impacted by the new regulations. Most people aren’t on Twitter. Most people weren’t even traveling! So, really, how much damage could it have done? Like I said, I wonder.

The post, however, alludes to something I’ve spoken about before. Earlier this year, I gave a talk at the Immunization Action Coalition’s Social Media Summit. The presentation is here. One of the points I made during the presentation was about the voice and tone of social media accounts.

The TSA’s Twitter account is an official account, branded with the agency’s name. This is nice for situations where authority needs to be conveyed. But it’s difficult to be personable, which is what the tweets in question attempt to do. Having a personality account (say, @jgarrow) allows one to be personable, but it’s difficult to impossible to develop the authority conveyed by a more official account. If TSA had posted those tweets using another account, say @BloggerBobTSA, while reserving official, more sober tweets for the @TSABlogTeam account, this problem might have been avoided.

Lesson learned: consider who is speaking when conducting social media messaging. If you plan to be silly or to foster personal relationships with your followers, consider developing a personal account. To issue official statements, consider developing a second, branded account.

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One thought on “Who is Your Social Media Voice?

  1. Jim – I think you make a good point, but I think it also depends on the organization. For government or public agencies, I think your advice is sound; but consider for a moment the @OldSpice guy. That campaign was about as silly as it gets, but it was effective precisely because it was from the “official” account…well, that, and the genius combination of personalized responses on YouTube. But if they had tried to run that from Isaiah Mustafa’s personal account, would anyone have noticed or cared?I recognize this may appear as an apples and oranges comparison – Old Spice is not really in the same universe as the TSA. But I think it is possible to be personable from an “official” Twitter account, it simply depends on whether or not that is an intended element of the communication strategy for that account, and perhaps most importantly, on the character and personality of the person crafting the messages.Perhaps the best example I can think of where this is done effectively is @wsdot, the official Twitter account for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

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