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The (Dangerous) Seduction of the Announcer's Voice

By Eric Fletcher
Chief Marketing Officer at McGlinchey Stafford

I was 14 years old when I became infatuated with the idea of announcing. I listened intently and tried desperately to emulate the resonant stylings of the most popular disc jockeys on the air in Detroit. For me, they were almost as much the sound of Motown as was the music. If they said it, the audience believed it. If they sold it, we wanted to buy it. They could make anything sound like the most important thing at that instant—from on-air promotions to the current time and temperature.

In my mind, this was the art of communication.

Today, thanks to social media, every one of us has easy access to a "microphone." Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube—these new media make broadcasting a message as easy as hitting the enter key.

Untold creative genius is invested in producing and delivering messages in everything from 140 characters to lengthier blog posts and from podcasts to videos. Anyone can be a figurative announcer in any of a growing number of channels.

At this point, it is important to note that sheer numbers (followers, fans, friends, views, etc.) indicate that many of these messages are entertaining; some even provocative or compelling. But one can't help wondering whether much of this is infatuation with the announcer's voice; or, to be more pointed, is social media marketing in danger of being more about creating, crafting, and delivering a message than it is about connecting, communicating, and ultimately selling?

Blanket pronouncements like this are, of course, unfair. Creativity will almost always find a target. But a cautionary note seems appropriate for all of us who believe in the value inherent in social media. The thing that makes social different from most, if not all other media is the fact that dialogue is a critical cornerstone.

This is not just about the capacity for give and take; conventional broadcast and print have the capacity via letters to the editor and other feedback mechanisms. The distinction is that give and take—conversation—is the basic ingredient in the foundation of social media. In fact, it is the voice of the marketplace that is the fabric of social media. Any who would succeed long term in social media marketing cannot ignore this.

Successful social media marketers listen, instigate dialogue, and focus at least as much on conversation (and what can be learned) as on a pitch or presentation. Probably more.

The reason social media is such a robust marketing tool is that it provides for—and even becomes—a shared experience. And it is within the comfort of shared experiences that real connection is made and communication occurs. In retrospect, this was the dynamic at work when, as a teenager, I listened to those announcers.

The radio experience was—simultaneously—intensely personal and shared. Social media affords a dimension that makes it possible to couch every marketing effort in the context of shared experiences. Perhaps the most difficult part of the job is being less concerned with announcing and more focused on dialogue. Master this, and any questions of ROI will likely disappear.

Eric Fletcher

Eric Fletcher is the CMO at McGlinchey Stafford, a national business law firm. With 200 attorneys operating from eight offices across the U.S., he is responsible for all aspects of marketing communications and business development for the firm nationwide. With more than 30 years in marketing and communications, Eric has produced successful radio and television programming; served as a partner and creative director with an award-winning advertising, marketing, and public relations firm; and counseled a number of the leading professional service organizations in America. Eric is a member of The Social CMO, an informal consortium of several individuals who have embraced social media and the opportunity it represents for advertising, PR, sales, and marketing.