Finding voice and balance on social media: A work in progress

voiceI’m one of the team members behind the AL.com brand on social media (Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram!). I think we’ve developed our voice fairly well, but we certainly have room for improvement.

We aim for an informative and helpful tone, and I think we achieve that. We’re also straightforward, honest and responsive (although we’re constantly working to be more responsive). What I’d like to work on is injecting more fun into our voice — when appropriate, of course. It can be tricky and even dangerous for a news organization to find the right balance between solemn and lighthearted, but when handled deftly, the brand becomes much more interesting and valuable.

The risk we run is being perceived as a brand that doesn’t take our journalistic duties seriously or even making our followers believe we’re making fun of a situation they take seriously. We certainly have to be careful about what topics we decide to get more creative with. For instance, some of our readers may feel comfortable tweeting a story about a prostitution sting with a joking tone (and I might even laugh), but that’s something I do not feel comfortable making light of as the brand.

Fortunately, there are brands out there who have it figured out — and some who don’t — that we can observe and take notes. Royal Dutch Airlines (@KLM on Twitter) is one of the good guys. They’re incredibly responsive, which as I said above is an area I’d like to help my company’s brand improve. Right in their Twitter cover photo, which they say they update every 5 minutes, they invite their followers to ask questions and give feedback and they provide an estimate of how quickly they’ll respond.

KLM, FTW!
KLM, FTW!

KLM has a social media team answering customers around the clock, which is something not every company has. But the most important thing I’m taking away from KLM’s stellar social approach for my social approach is that we should let AL.com’s followers know more clearly what they can expect — when we have people manning the accounts and how quickly they can expect a response to questions and reports of problems.

And then, there’s the folks who show us what not to do. Exhibit A:

Uh, what?
Uh, what?

When what they really meant to say was this:

Oh, OK.
Oh, OK.

But the damage was done, and the clever people of the internet were already having their fun, at Virgin Trains’ expense.

LOL.
LOL.

So lessons learned here: Be clear, don’t be dramatic and avoid caps lock. I guess at least they didn’t delete their first tweet and issued an update.

What do your favorite brands do well on social media? What brands’ social media flubs stand out to you? 

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