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Monday, December 30, 2013

The Art of Social Media—Finding Your Authentic Voice

by Edie Melson

As authors we talk a lot about voice. In fiction, and even non-fiction, it’s defined as that certain something that makes an author unique. In everything—from the rhythm, cadence and flow—to the sentence structure. It conveys the author’s personality and attitude.

Although many may not realize it, there’s an advantage to developing a voice for your social media presence. If you think about it, it’s something that those most successful social media folks have done.

But with social media, it’s not just the words you choose, but it encompasses the images you use to represent yourself and the topics of the updates you post.

Here’s how to develop an authentic social media voice:

1. Be yourself. This may seem obvious, but with any new technology, it’s easy to get sidetracked by all the bells and whistles. Don’t over think the hashtags or lingo of any platform.

2. Write like you talk. Try not to use lingo on social media that you wouldn’t use in conversation. Of course there are exceptions, one notable one is LOL! I don’t really use that in conversation, but I do crack jokes and it’s sort of a shorthand version of that.

3. Consider your community. I don’t necessarily mean your physical neighborhood, but more the people you surround yourself with. What do you talk about? What makes your group unique? What do you stand for?

4. Listen to the conversation around you. What do you have to add without becoming part of the noise? We all approach life from a unique perspective, don’t be afraid to be authentic.

5. Stay consistent. The majority of people out there like to know what to expect. Sure we all like occasional surprises, but when I walk into McDonalds I expect certain things. Your social media presence is like that as well. Develop a strong consistent presence and people will respect what you have to say.

6. Be relevant. There are lots of trivial things around, make sure your social media voice isn’t one of them.

7. Use hashtags with care. To avoid the used car salesman voice, limit yourself to no more than two (or occasionally three) hashtags per update.

8. Don't be an egomaniac. To keep your social media from being me focused, follow Edie’s 5 to 1 rule. For every 5 social media updates, only one can be about you.

9 Keep it positive. Let’s face it, nobody likes a whiner. Social media is no different, so keep the tone upbeat and positive.

10. Avoid lecturing and scolding. This is another no-no. If you wouldn’t like the tone in person, don’t use it on social media.

11. Make sure your avatar (image) reflects your voice. A lot of times, it's the only visual clue that can reinforce who you are. 

Social media voices can be witty, quirky, encouraging, snarky, playful, educational, and hundreds of other things. Make an effort to develop yours into an accurate representation of you. 

Now it's your turn, share what you think your social media personality is. Or if you're not sure, ask some questions and let's figure it out together. 

I'll go first. I think my social media voice is educational and encouraging. If I'm not hitting that, feel free to post what you think it is.

Edie Melson is an author, freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She’s the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, and the Senior Editor for Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.


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