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Give your social media a shot of personality

Years ago, when companies first introduced automated Help Desks for IT issues, Marriott adopted a process whereby employees  would send an email to SPOC; from there the issue would be assigned to the appropriate Help Desk technician for resolution. 

Why SPOC?  Well, for those of us who don’t live and breathe IT acronyms, SPOC stood for “Single Point of Contact.” I honestly believed it was a Star Trek reference, and took great joy in sending emails to that ID with the salutation, “Hey there, Spockie!”  Imagine my disappointment when I found out what it really stood for…

I always thought that the Help Desk missed a great opportunity to build a connnection with the employees and drive adoption of their new process.  After all, who wouldn't laugh at a response from SPOC along the lines of, "The error message you reference is illogical."

I was reminded of my old buddy SPOC earlier this week at the Capital Communicators Group luncheon on Tourism Communications.  The speakers – Pat Wheeler of Cultural Tourism D.C., Danielle Piacente of Linda Roth Associates (the  agency that provides PR support to the National Cherry Blossom Festival), and Barbara Bahny of the Willard InterContinental Hotel – provided insights into how their respective organizations are shifting their focus beyond out-of-town visitors to draw interest from local residents.

While I enjoyed hearing about Cultural Tourism D.C.’s neighborhood walking tours to showcase the rich history and culture of the District, and loved getting the inside scoop on how the National Cherry Blossom Festival is partnering with local charter schools with their Youth Ambassador program, I was most interested in hearing about the Willard Hotel and their social media efforts.

By way of background, the Willard is one of the District’s most historic hotels.  Built in 1818 and located one block from the White House, the Willard has hosted world leaders, international celebrities and cultural icons.

When I asked about the hotel’s social media activities, Bahny stated that she uses the Willard’s Twitter updates as a way to reinforce the hotel’s “grande dame” reputation, choosing words and phrasing that she envisions an ageless, worldly, sophisticated socialite would employ in conversations with peers.  That approach gives the Willard’s Twitter feed a specific voice that sets them apart from other hotels in D.C.

That statement got me thinking about rarely how an organization’s culture is reflected in their employee communications.  I’m guessing that most large corporations take the same approach to social media as they do their traditional employee communications – generic, linear, and filled with conservative corporate speak.

 While that may work in an earnings email from the CEO, social media offers communicators with an opportunity to loosen up a bit and speak peer-to-peer with the workforce.  These vehicles, by their very nature, break down the artificial barriers formed by auto-reply features, voice-recognition systems and online forms. 

So why not interject a little bit of personality?  You might find that employees are actually reading your updates…


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