"Speak Up" in Social Media and Deepen Customer Interest

by Stephanie Taylor Christensen on July 11, 2011
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Do you feel like your tweets and status updates are futile when it comes to building customer engagement?  If you’re only using text-based content, they may be. According to Twitter, 140 million “tweets” are sent each day; that’s a lot of chatter to compete with. New social media research reveals there’s a feature that small business marketers should integrate into their social media outlets to increase customer engagement online. The best part? You’ve already got it: your voice.

A recent study conducted at the University of Missouri showed participants various mock websites to gauge interest and interaction levels. The findings concluded that integrating human voice into social media platforms and websites increased both user satisfaction and engagement levels, especially in the case of for-profit organizations. Hyojung Park, a doctoral candidate involved in the study, says “conversational human voice may promote trust, satisfaction, and commitment in relationships between an organization and the public, which in turn results in favorable behavioral intentions toward an organization.” (In other words, literally speaking up online and in social media could prompt customers to buy from you versus a “silent” competitor).

You don’t need to be a developer to start integrating human voice technology into your  marketing. Even better, it can be done for free. Here are four standout technologies that can make your voice heard in social media and elsewhere online.

BobsledVivox, a leader in integrated communications, partnered with T-Mobile to offer this free app that brings voice to Facebook. Bobsled allows for “phone-call” style chat directly from Facebook to other friends, including the ability to post voice mail messages to users’ walls.

AudioBoo — This free app allows you to record up to five minutes of audio using an iPhone or Android device. Record using your computer mic to conduct longer audio segments, interviews, or even a radio show. Once your file is complete, the site makes it simple to push the audio to your website or blog, and provides an easy connection to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or iTunes.

Shoutomatic — Also free, Shoutomatic allows you to easily record and share audio via email, Twitter, or Facebook. One particularly interesting feature for small businesses is the ability to purchase “shouts” from celebrities, which could aid in brand development and personality. (Although, to date, the level of recognizable voices that are part of the service borders on C-list at best). Nonetheless, the tool could present an interesting alternative for small businesses wishing to integrate professional talent into online branding but lacking the marketing dollars to do so. Shoutomatic’s apps also allow you to call in audio status updates from a cell phone.

SoundCloud — This platform allows for easy embedding of widgets into blogs and websites, and provides fairly in-depth user stats to gauge the impact of voice integration. You can also embed widgets on your site to notify visitors to “follow” your business on SoundCloud.

Stephanie Christensen is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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