One Voice, One Vision – or an Entire Choir Singing the Same Song?

Freddy Leading a Choir of Thousands 

I was reading the article Why Corporate Communicators are Failing Social Media earlier today and while it is a great article, before I was halfway through reading, I thought, “A key reason is that too many companies are still stuck on the idea of a voice, and not embracing and enabling diverse voices joining in harmony to sing the same song as choir.”

I love the concept of One Voice, One Vision – in theory. I recall hearing Queen’s inspirational anthem blasting through the speakers to welcome customers, partners, and speakers to the opening of a huge user conference years ago in Boston. Adrenalin pumping, feet tapping, the crowd of bodies rocking forward sharing a dream, while singing the same song. 

Therein lies the key to what I see as a common failure with many Social Media plans for communities & brands.

There is so much emphasis placed on defining the organization’s single voice, and so little placed on how to turn the message into music that communities can sing.

The four key elements of music are melody, harmony, rhythm, and dynamics. All are essential in creating the essence of music.  Imagine if we created our communities and messages like creating a memorable piece sung over and over through the ages.

Melody gives the music soul, while rhythm blends with harmony and the dynamics of the tempo of a passage. All are necessary to create a recognizable pattern known as a ‘song’. (And you can’t harmonize alone as one voice.) 

Build your Social Media Choir as if you were writing a song for them to sing:

The Melody is the Message

  • Range – covers the distance between the high notes & the low notes, with the pitch scaling between low, medium and high notes. A piece with a narrow range has a message that centers around only a few notes, often limited by a single singer’s abilities.  By contrast, a wide range carries the audience from lows to highs through many steps on the scale.
  • Messages, like melodies, are structured much like sentences in spoken language. A phrase in music is but a single unit of meaning in the entirety of the song. Wouldn’t be much of a song if the message is spoken continuously in the same limited voice, yet often, we see an organization putting out the same phrase over and over, “Come see this link on our site. It’s cool.”

The ‘one vision’ message is the organization’s chorus written by the brandmeisters, while the other voices chime in to write different verses, harmonize and get others humming along.

Creating Rhythm

  • Rhythm is the beat. It is the sound that drives to make music (and your message) move and flow. Rhythm is made up of sounds and silences. Rhythm has a steady beat, but can also change tempo with some beats stronger, softer, shorter, or longer.When delivering your message, think like a composer, changing up the tone & the tempo, including different voices adding the high hat notes, the clapping, the different sounds that create more than just a simplistic, steady thumping of your bass line message.

Who is singing harmony?

  • Harmony is the relation of notes to notes and chords to chords as they are sung or played simultaneously.  Melodic intervals are those that are linear and occur in sequence, while harmonic intervals are sounded at the same time.In other words, while it is important to stick with the core vision and play the same message consistently, the song will be richer with more voices adding depth and subtle complexity to the sound of the lead power voice.

Pause here to listen to Roseanne Barr and her infamous attempt at singing the American National Anthem in 1990.

Now listen to the same message sung by a chorus of proud voices – The Academy Choir.

You want to make Social Media music, or keep singing with ‘one voice’?

You can’t make music like that with ‘a voice’, especially if the voice is off-key to begin with. When you build your Community Management team think about who will sing bass, tenor, soprano, and if you’re lucky enough to have Do Wop singers handy, let them join in to add some soul to the single ‘brand voice’.

How do you make your message & community sing?

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Twitter Ego Health Check

It's all about... Me!

That’s right – It’s all about ME when it comes to my standards for Twitter ettiquettte in regards to my personal ‘brand’.

I’m an unapologetic anomaly in the Twittersphere – I don’t care if you follow me; I care about being selective about those who I choose to follow. I care more about finding the right people to listen to, than I do about who might listen to me. (Which is 100% opposite of what I practice & preach with a business persona.)

I’ve always been a bit cynical about the subjective value of Twitter popularity ratings for personal branding. I’m not at all ignorant or oblivious of the norms and rules, however, I’m also not ashamed to admit that when it comes to my personal Twitter account -> I’ll set the rules as I see fit. 

It is easy to be fearless and indulge myself in the luxury of writing this for two reasons:

  • Very few will read this and become offended
  • It’s all about me regardless – I don’t mean to offend, but I’m not going to follow you or add you to a list if it doesn’t suit my selfish purpose in the first place.

All of the recent chatter about lists has only further high-lighted the issues I have with accepted Twitter practices. I find most behaviors are as insincere as over-the-counter utterances like, “Have a nice day,” or “Thanks,” when the waiter brings the coffee you ordered 10 minutes ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a Canadian so being excessively polite comes with the culture – I won’t stop thanking hard-working servers anytime soon. On the other hand, I’m also not going to thank you for a ‘thank you’ or for RT’ing something I RT’d from someone else.

My point is that I don’t need or acknowledge platitudes-by-rote. If I RT’d you – in all but a very few cases, I did it for ME, or followers who might benefit. There are several people I follow who I will consistently RT when their content is great in hopes that others will follow them with shared reverence, but I can count those people on one hand.

The rest of the time when I RT, I am not trying to raise YOUR profile (sorry); I share to incite further conversation or thought with people who share a common interest in my passions.  If you get more followers out of it, that’s great, but it isn’t my primary goal. Don’t waste keystrokes to thank me for my selfishness.

Take it for granted that if I bother to share your tweet, self-interest played a part in it – and it very well might not have been your intended reason. More than likely, I did want to put brain-candy out there to chew on, but I might just have easily wanted to incite a riot. 😉

Likewise, I’m not enamoured with random mentions that don’t add to discussion. The people I have come to appreciate the most on Twitter are those who use mentions to engage in conversations.  You know… back & forth communiques that are actual discussions? Mentioning me in an attempt to thank me for something or other is a banal effort that won’t stir my brain.  It isn’t innovative or original. It is just a learned behavior that applies grease to the squeaky wheels of culture. Like saying thanks without looking at the service person you’re thanking.

But, we’re heading into a new cultural period.  Mentions don’t equal acknowledgement of value. Perhaps they’ll carry more weight when applied more judiciously.

I have no desire to make money via Twitter, nor do I use my ‘personal brand’ account in relation to any singular vendor.  Therefore, I’m quite mercenary in how I wish to participate in (use) Twitter. I’m all about connecting with mentors, experts, and big-thinkers who gift me with their thoughts as brain-food & affordable education. It’s all about me, and using the Twitterverse to learn from the best of the best.

 Those that offer consistent constructive value are those I will RT – without ever caring or hoping for a thanks.  (When you’re playing at that level of the game, you really don’t need it, do you? Fandom is irrelevant when you have apt students vs. random followers?)

Which somehow brings me to a clumsy transition to Twitter lists – without a witty segue. 

My Twitter Lists Are All ABout ME. (Deal with it.)

I don’t create my new lists to entice others.  Rather, I am structuring them as a way to categorize people I follow, or who follow me, according to my evolving interests and my own taxonomy.  (Ouch! I know, but just live with it – it is my system and I like it.)

I’m not overly interested in how you might classify me, nor will I be offended or excited by inclusion or exclusion on any list. 

You use Twitter your way.  And I’ll use it mine.

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Comments welcome – ruthless critiques are desired.  You might change my mind about ettiquette for personal Twitter accounts, but I doubt it.