The Power of “We”

I used to be the “voice” of Avelient. Being a small business owner, I invested a lot of time in associating myself with my brand, so that whenever people might think of Avelient, they would think about me.

I was fine with that, because ultimately I had poured so much of myself into the identity of the company. And in so doing, it helped establish trust among my circle of followers not only with me, but with the quality of work coming out of my company regardless of whether I was doing that work or giving it to someone I trusted to handle.

Now, I find my day-to-day tasks have taken me away from blogging as much as I used to, and even upholding the same kind of activity in other social media circles has been difficult. It's a good example of how things can get overwhelming very quickly for a small business owner and how maintaining a consistent social media presence can be a tall order as a company goes through its growing pains.

A single voice becomes many

A funny thing happened the other day. Avelient has just opened up an office on the West coast, and its establishment as an extension of Avelient and our brand has progressed better than could be expected this quickly. Until that office opened, I was the only one tweeting as Avelient, and though I definitely kept my business tweets separate from my personal tweets, my personality was apparent in every tweet I made with the community.

Since that office opened, however, I've given access to our director over there, Sam Howat, to tweet and post Facebook updates as Avelient, and his own voice has been added to the mix. Though we unquestionably follow the same business philosophy, our personalities naturally differ. I expected that when I did this that it would be clear to our followers that the account was now run by two people instead of one.

What happened instead even caught me off-guard.

Many voices become one

This collective had become a personality unto itself. The company has become this singular voice of like-minded individuals. We retain our individual personalities but because we share the same business philosophy we tacitly understand what's acceptable to post in an online forum when we're posting as Avelient.

And this experience actually gives me some better insight into how we can help people establish their own voices in social media.

If we can clearly unify our own business philosophy in such a way that our company has adopted its own distinct online "personality," then it's something that should be theoretically possible for any company out there, large or small.

You may choose to collaborate with others inside your organization or even contract with a social media consulting company like Avelient to help you to establish your online voice. In order for this to be effective, you'll need to put pen to paper and spend some time thinking about a few key areas you need to develop with your team in order to establish your business' personality:

  • Your business philosophy - how do you want to be defined by others?
  • A persona of your typical customer (think: age, gender, interests, values) - how do you define those that are interested in you?
  • A persona of your business - what would your business or primary product be like if it were a person (think Apple's "get a Mac" ads)

There are other things to think about, and certainly a lot you can do to hone that personality, but this is meant to nudge you to start thinking about it. I don't have all the answers, especially since I just started collaborating with others who will help me shape the future personality of Avelient...

...but we will be sure to let you know how things progress right here.

Written on May 22nd, 2010

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