Image by Getty Images via DaylifeDue to my on-again-off-again 18 years of writing professionally, I own many writing books. Perusing through one of them the other day, “The Well-Fed Writer,” by Peter Bowerman, I noticed a series of tips he provides on writing speeches.
On page 195, Peter writes, “While often there is a predetermined theme to which you need to write, you may be called on in the client meetings to come up with a creative concept for the speech. In these meetings, you’ll be asking scads of questions, many of them familiar.”
What Peter couldn’t have known at the time is these five questions are precisely the types of questions both consultants and companies should ask if social media (or a specific social network) is the right way to go.
- Who’s the audience?
- What’s worked before?
- What’s the theme?
- What style and tone do they want?
- Are there any negative audience attitudes or sensitive issues that need to be addressed?
Fortune 50 firms and nonprofit organizations, for instance, have different audience demographics and social media motivations, such as recruitment, volunteerism, fundraising, and buzz generation. A speechwriter should determine the questions the audience wants to have answered so the right speech is written; it’s no different when determining the best social media strategy.
If a company wants to “do blogging,” one question to ask is whether their audience is the type that would read and comment on blogs. If the audience doesn’t use Facebook, there is no sense in creating a Facebook page. Or, if a company wants you to develop a strategy for them and you consider creating a LinkedIn group, do you know if they tried that before?
As Peter writes, “The last thing you need is to spend bunches of time coming up with a great theme only to have them say, ‘Oh, we forgot to tell you (read: you never asked), we tried that last year and it didn’t get a very good response.‘ Back to the drawing board.”
You can think of the speech’s theme as social media branding. It doesn’t matter if personal branding or corporate branding is at stake; it’s silly to generate a theme for business-to-business if your brand is geared for business-to-consumer.
“It’s critically important that you capture the ‘voice’ of the speaker, so he’ll feel comfortable speaking the words that you write,” states Peter.
If you’re developing a Facebook page for a company, make sure that the content on the page matches its website, its marketing copy, and its annual report. Verify the same language is used throughout; while different audiences will read the Facebook profile than the annual report, the general tone and style must be the same.
Have I missed anything?