Raise your hand if you feel like you’re doing everything right on social media, but something isn’t meshing.
You’ve strategically joined platforms that make sense, you’re analyzing your posts, and you’ve planned out your content calendars weeks in advance. Yet, for some reason, every time you sit down to write a post something seems off. You don’t know if you should be funnier, wittier, or be more serious.
The struggle is real, but it can probably be fixed by narrowing in on your voice.
Voice is your brand personality described in an adjective. For instance, brands can be lively, positive, cynical, or professional. Social media is filled with a lot of noise and a lot of different voices. Does your audience identify your social media content as coming from your brand?
I recently sat down with Jeremy Cline, marketing coordinator for Arrow Coffee Co., to find out how the small Manhattan business cuts through the everyday bustle to find time for an authentic voice on social media.
Founded in 2013, Arrow Coffee is a specialty coffee shop and cocktail bar located in Manhattan, Kansas. The shop is known for being passionate, not pretentious. Something that is carried over from their shop to their social media. To top it off, Arrow has quality and ethically selected coffee, cocktail, food, and more.
Coffee addict tip: Try the Elliot with almond milk.
CB: Arrow has such a consistent presence and voice on social media. What’s the secret?
JC: This comes back to the idea of being #authentic. I think another word you can use is transparency. Throughout all aspects of our business, it’s really a part of our mission and vision of creating relationships with people. You form relationships by being honest with people. What you see is what you get. The big thing is that we’re not trying to be anyone we’re not, we’re trying to be really welcoming. Basically, it’s just staying true to ourselves. That’s how we are, that’s how our business is framed. Your mission and vision should align with your strategy, whether it’s your digital marketing or supply chain strategy.
CB: Arrow has a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. How was Arrow’s social media strategy developed?
JC: Tone is really important. It’s more important on different platforms, right? Not all platforms are created equally. In the same way, you’re not going to put your print advertisement on TV. You’re not going to put your Twitter content on your Instagram. It’s just not built the same. That was one thing when Arrow started on social, we’d just do one post and it’d go out on multiple platforms. When I started we started using the same content, but different voices. Content is great, but context is what matters. So that’s one thing we’ve been doing.
CB: How would you describe Arrow’s voice on each platform?
JC: Our Twitter is very sassy and snarky, that is a very true view of Arrow. Instagram is still funny, but everything is very aesthetically driven. All the pictures need to be visually compelling. Where Twitter is more GIFS and a lot faster pace. Then Facebook, there’s a lot going on — It’s a little more formal.
CB: What tips do you have for other small businesses trying to find their voice?
JC: I think first what you need to understand is who you are as a business and really who you are as a person, since business is people. Know what you like and what you don’t like. It’s our job to tell our story in an increasingly noisy world. The world is very loud and everyone wants your attention. I think the most valuable commodity that any business can have is somebody’s attention and you don’t want to squander it with poor digital content. For us, it was about just being ourselves. It’s our voice. That’s worked out well for us so far. We’re not trying to beat anything. We take our craft seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. I think that’s what makes it real, fun, and an actual experience.
CB: How do you keep your content fresh?
JC: It’s so hard. Especially with relevance. You can have a tweet and/or Instagram post that performs really well, but then nobody cares the next day. One thing that we do, is that we encourage and joke around a lot when looking for content. We save a lot of drafts and have a content log of things to work with. For creating content, it’s about seeing things differently. We actually just started an internal digital content curation team.
CB: How has having a content curation team helped?
JC: The team helps get other people’s viewpoints, experiences, and perspectives. Previously, it was just me creating all the content. We’re getting richer content. I think that’s been our best strategy so far, is opening it up to those who are interested.
CB: Is there anything you’ve done that’s flopped?
JC: Almost every day. We’ve found that sometimes the things we’ve thought about a lot and think is hilarious, and then nobody thinks it’s funny. But it’s fine. You just have to take it and go with it. It’s about learning.
CB: What advice would you give small local businesses starting out on social media?
JC: The problem with a lot of businesses is they realize they need to be on social media, and either they can’t commit to it or they commit to it in the wrong way. If you’re going to do it, stick with it. It’s better to not have any social media than to have social media that’s not active. It’s challenging, but it’s a lot easier than you might think. Look at what other people are doing in your field, or even not in your field. See what you like and don’t like. Remember what works for others might not work for you and vice versa. You’re not other businesses.
CB: What’s something you wish you would have known before diving into Arrow’s social media?
JC: Not everything is purely quantitative. This is something I fight every day. I think a term I’ve heard used a couple times is “glam” metrics. There might be accounts with more followers than you, or someone makes a tweet that gets a million retweets. But if there’s no real return on investment than who cares. You can have meaningful content and if people are already engaging with it in real life, then you’re doing it right. Just because you don’t have a million likes or retweets, doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.
To sum it up, if you’re feeling stuck while trying to find your small business’ voice on social media, take a step back and analyze your social media accounts using this list:
- Make sure you know your audience
- Stay true to yourself
- Collaborate with others
- Stick with it
- Look past the “glam” metrics