Lecture 6: Online Voice and Rhetoric

1. Be your authentic self

We’ve all heard this advice when it comes to making friends: be yourself. The same rationality applies when it comes to social media and creating content online. The best way for people to get to know you is to be yourself. Your audience wants to know the REAL you. We all have good and bad aspects of ourselves and by being open and honest, we create authentic relationships with our online community. According to Brohgan and Smith, we should become trust agents because they use the internet to “be genuine and to humanize their business” by finding the right balance in terms of execution (2019). When we are aware of how to be both authentic and trustable online whilst taking advantage of business opportunities, we can leverage the internet to realize our goals. It is very easy to showcase only the good parts of our lives on social media, but trust and honesty are crucial when it comes to making meaningful connections.

2. Don’t be afraid to have fun

The internet can seem like a scary and judgemental place. So much so that we forget its primary purpose: to connect with one another and form a community of individuals with shared passions and interests. 🥰 One easy and simple way is to use emojis. From a social media influencer’s perspective, emojis are a great way for you to convey ideas and emotions to your audience in a short amount of time. Instead of saying, “I’m happy” for example, a smiley emoji can accomplish the same with equal clarity. By using emojis on social media, you can use your words wisely and the persuasiveness of these emojis suggests “they can and should be treated as an essential aspect of marketing rhetoric on social media” (Ge & Gretzel, 2018). After all, we know our attention spans are shortening and thus we should spend our words meaningfully. Next time you share a post on Instagram, don’t be afraid to have some fun with emojis! 🥳

3. Understand rhetorical devices (ethos, pathos, logos)

Being strategic in how you approach language can greatly affect your social media presence. Knowing how to craft your language in the digital space is important as words can easily be misconstrued and interpreted inaccurately. When we understand when and where to use certain rhetorical devices, we can better cater to our ideal audience and their needs. Think about who your audience consists of and learn how to harness the power of language. By making sure that the words we use is appropriate for the tone and message, we better emerge ourselves into our online communities. Using internet slang can (to a certain extent) amplify your digital fluency though it does diminish one’s perceived “professional” image. Still, when the time is right, internet slang can prove useful as they “coin new words specific to their needs” (Racoma, 2018). Relatability to your audience can be achieved when you are strategic in the words you use on social media.

4. Connect and engage with your followers

It’s important to be present and engage with your followers. When you spend time with your followers, you get to know your audience and their likes, dislikes, concerns, preferences. Essentially, you learn the type of content they enjoy and want from you. Moreover, don’t be afraid to network with creators in a similar industry as you. Making friends is a great way to expand your social network and meet new people. Make your community a safe, supportive, and inviting space for people. One excellent way to achieve this is to “speak in the voice of your audience” and be mindful of your language (McCallister, 2019). Finally, remember to prioritize your own mental health and set boundaries.

5. Promote content online

Social media is a competitive space with numerous similar accounts and creators. It’s okay to be competitive and promote yourself! Of course, always be mindful of how you approach your followers and remember that likes and followers are not everything. When you promote content online, always be honest with your followers; you do not have to appear to be “perfect” or have all the answers. After all, social media influencers should express “credibility, expertise, enthusiasm, connectivity or centrality” when it comes to creating content (Ge & Gretzel, 2018). Understand what makes your content unique and learn to leverage it. Finally, remember to be patient. Building a community takes time and persistence.