What if you peeked out...?
Question from Naomi:
I've worked with several organizations and sometimes find myself in the position where I'm taking over an nonprofit's social media and, up to that point, it's been stiff and formal. I want to give it some life, add some personality and humor, but I'm concerned about making the shift in tone. How do I make sure it's not jarring for our followers when the tone suddenly changes?
I love this question, both because you want to infuse some personality - some "deliberate differentiation" - into your organization's communications, and also because you're thinking about the impact that shift will have on your audience. You're putting them first, which is going to set you up for success.
I want to highlight a couple of things. First, as marcomm professionals, we are the insiders of the insiders of our messaging. We have a kind of "curse of knowledge." While we're seeing 100% of our communications, 100% of the time, your audience is, well, not. If your communications have been dry and un-engaging up to this point, will anyone miss that old vibe?
You've got an opportunity to wake up an audience that's been trained to be passive with you. So rather than being concerned about how they'll react when the tone changes, let's use this as an opportunity to get them activated, rather than worry too much about throwing them off.
One thing I would recommend to spark that change and manage the transition is to introduce yourself as the person behind the keys.*
Doing this serves a couple of purposes.
First, it humanizes your brand by literally putting a face to the organization. And let's face it, organizations are made of people. We all know that, and I think audiences appreciate your content more when they feel they have a personal connection to the actual living, breathing human being making that content happen.
Second, it marks a clear transition and establishes the new personality behind that channel.
Third, it gives you an opportunity to both shift the content and the tone, and get your audience excited for this new approach. When you introduce yourself, ask them what they want to hear! Ask them what they're excited about when it comes to your mission. Find out what kind of content would light them up. Then deliver, and keep listening, and keep moving forward.
Naomi, sounds like you're being really thoughtful and that you care a lot about how your organization is represented online. I'm excited to see where you take your community!
*Obviously, this is not the right choice for every brand, and not appropriate for every organization. It tends to work well with local, communally-driven organizations like the one I know Naomi is working with, but may be applicable in other situations as well.