ANGIE’S INSIGHT OF THE WEEK: I’ve recently been doing a lot of reading about the pros and cons of solo business owners using the royal “we” in their online communications. This practice stems from the notion that bigger is better when it comes to your online persona and that you should always portray yourself as a larger business than you really are. Or at least you should hide the fact that you are a sole trader doing it all yourself.
I used to be in that camp. In fact, if you look at my website, there are still remnants where I used “we” instead of “I” throughout the site (I am still working through and updating all my copy).
But more recently, I’ve been experimenting with the other side of the coin. The side that says that you should connect on a 1:1 level with your audience. That all your copy, whether it’s your website or blog or emails, or even a simple post on social media, should be written in your “personal” voice, as if you were talking directly to a friend. Or if not a friend, to someone you know and like.
That means not only using “I” instead of “we”, but also using your typical speaking voice and language. In other words, being yourself.
I like this notion. So I’ve been experimenting. Recently I wrote a heart-felt email to my subscribers. I used the techniques mentioned above. I imagined that I was writing to a single person and that they were a friend. Truthfully, many of my subscribers are my friends, or at least valued colleagues, so it wasn’t a big stretch to think of them in this way. It was written like a letter, not much formatting, no fancy images or graphics and I used the first person throughout.
Even the subject matter was personal in nature. I shared some recent hardships I’d had and told my subscribers what I learned over that time, not in the hopes of pity or sympathy, but as a way of sharing my insights so that others in the same position might not suffer as I did.
And it worked. The email got more opens and clicks than any of my previous emails. And I had at least 10 people reply, thanking me for my honesty and the insights I’d shared. I was blown away. I usually get one or two replies if I’m lucky. And they are usually my sisters being supportive.
I’d love to know your experience with using the royal “we” versus the more personal 1:1 approach. Have you tried both methods and seen any differences in responsiveness of your audience. Leave a comment below.
Angeline Zaghloul is an expert in business strategy, client management and business processes, and is the Managing Director of Peer Business Consulting, a Sydney-based consultancy providing strategy and operations advice to startups and SMEs. Angeline also publishes a regular blog which provides research, advice and tips on key issues facing businesses.