Exercising Your Social Voice

“Listen to Me…”
“Listen to you by what right?”
“Because I have a right to be heard…”
“A right…”
“Because I HAVE A VOICE!”
“Yes, you do.”

In The King’s Speech, the man who would be King George VI of Britain assumes the throne after his brother abdicates. Suffering from a debilitating stutter and considered to be unfit to be King, George (‘Bertie’) strikes an unlikely friendship with an unorthodox speech pathologist, Lionel Logue, who helps him find his voice and lead his country through war. (IMDB)

While we aren’t in a state of war, there are certain parallels that I’ve come to draw between this movie and the state of social media. It seems technology has given us all a voice—one that needs to be exercised with proper training and responsibility in order to be effective. For people like Bertie, they have things to say but lack the facility to say them. Others too often, choose to abuse that voice and devalue it with negative or inappropriate tweets, status updates or blog posts.

While it would be easy to argue that these two groups are different, the issue is the same. We have been granted a great privilege—not a right—with the advent of social media. It has given every individual, company and organization, etc. a voice, and more importantly, an audience. How we choose to exercise our voice is the issue.

At Top Draw we talk about content strategy a lot, and more and more we’re asked by our clients how to engage in social media as part of that strategy. As their advisors, we become the Lionel Logue’s of the industry, offering our services to companies and individuals seeking to find their (what I call) “social voice”. We caution them about the power and responsibilities they are about to assume. It would be incredibly hypocritical to not apply the same caution to ourselves.

The inherent flaw within social media is that it is self-indulgent. We can post about the most irreverent things and assume people are listening. This post could be argued as self-indulgent. I’d like to think there’s more substance here than tweeting about bad customer service or personal inconveniences, but that’s my point.

Consider this: What impression are you conveying to your audience when the only thing they have to judge you on is by how you communicate? When exercising your “social voice”, do you consider your audience and the benefit you provide, or merely pollute the web with irreverent comments and complaints? Do you exercise your social voice in a responsible way?

We fight for a more standardized, usable web. Why don’t we fight for quality content?

— Mark Yiu, Director of Design & Usability