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The human touch — adding a voice to social media relationships

May 19, 2011

People using social media want to know who they’re talking to — even when they interact with a brand. According to a study by the University of Missouri, people perceive websites that use a conversational human voice much more positively than websites with a strictly organizational presence.

“Communicating in a human voice adds a sense of personal and sociable human contact to the interaction with the public,” said Hyojung Park, a doctoral candidate at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The study asked respondents to rate a number of mock social media sites complete with user comments and direct responses from the organizations’ PR representatives. Some sites included the name and picture of the organizational representative along with their messages, while others did not. The study found that sites using a personal human voice received much higher ratings than those relying on impersonal communication.

“Levels of trust, commitment and satisfaction from users all appear to be positively affected by the use of the human voice in social media,” Park said.

She said the study can help PR practitioners and scholars better understand how social media can be used for relationship management. Jason Woodward

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