Authentic Voice

Recently, there have been a number of discussions in the market about the importance of companies finding an “authentic voice” as they enter the blogosphere. 

“Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.” — Building An Authentic Voice

As a consequence, companies are taking a number of different approaches to blogging in search of their “authentic voice.”  Some, not surprisingly, adopt a controlled corporate focus, letting their marketing department drive the Blog through very pre-packaged messages.

“As I see it, large corporations try to sanitize all their outgoing messages (online) for the sake of keeping face. It is very easy to identify this kind of behavior. Whenever you read something and it sounds like a series of pre-made phrases strung together, instead of a human being speaking, this is sanitized communication. To me, this stuff sounds inhuman.”Consistent Messaging vs Human Words

Unfortunately, this approach to blogging disregards the significant contribution individual employees can make to a company’s online voice.  But at the other end of the spectrum from the marketing controlled blog, there are companies that literally have thrown the Blog over to their employees.

 The Horn Group recently cited one of its clients who had decided to let its employees speak for it, using a blogging system. One of the points of feedback centered on time-to-market with news:

”…we’re always developing new products, improving upon existing ones, and contending with new issues. Static marketing copy can’t keep up with it all. Our employee articles will.”Bye Bye Brochureware

I’m struggling with the suggestion by some that these approaches are mutually exclusive.  No corporation can have an authentic voice on the Web by defaulting to one voice at the expense of the others.  In other words, why not set free the myriad of voices in an organization, inclusive of marketing, employees and yes, customers.  Only by so doing can a corporation gain a truly authentic voice, because its Blog will then consist of all the voices of its business.

Sure, there is an element of credibility associated with people talking under their own name, as distinct from anonymously, under a company byline. You’d all be less inclined to believe the representations in a company press release like Dovetail Software Adds Knowledge Management to Product Suite, than you would a personal statement written by me, explaining why our company actually invested time and development resources in a knowledge management capability to integrate with our CRM software:

“This continues our company’s trend of listening to our customers in determining what improvements we should make to our product suite. They have told us about the importance of knowledge management to their organizations and their willingness to spend CRM dollars on knowledge management initiatives. We looked into it and determined the value of bringing knowledge management into an overall CRM strategy can’t be minimized as it relates to rapid ROI as well as higher customer satisfaction and retention.”Now with Knowledge Management

It’s with this kind of thinking about our “voice” that we made the leap and started our own corporate blog back in January with this post. We’ve published twice a day since then. The morning posts are a summary of news stories and links relevant to CRM, while the afternoon posts are always written by a staffer who speaks with a collective “we” for the corporation—but never with canned, “pre-made phrases” crafted by the marketing  team.

Soon after the start of the corporate blog, many of our employees, including me, launched our own individual blogs, making it possible to get a sense of who we are and what we believe. You can read their work as a group here, or if you have a favorite, you can read Gary Sherman, Jason Darling, Kevin Miller, Melissa Burpo, Steven Weintraub and Steven List individually.

As a whole, we at Dovetail take our online “voice” as seriously as we do our “brand.”  I hope that the combination of our corporate and employee Blogs shows off our true, authentic voice.  And we’re not done yet.  If you come back in a few weeks, we’ll be launching the third element of our “voice” online – that of our customers. 

Until next time,


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