New research indicates that utilizing a personal, human voice when communicating online leads to much higher user satisfaction ratings than impersonal communication.
"There is great value in using a human voice when communicating and developing good relationships with the public," said Hyojung Park, a doctoral candidate at the Missouri School of Journalism.
"Perceptions of relationships with an organization seem to be significantly more favorable when the organization's social networking page has a human presence rather than an organizational presence. Levels of trust, commitment, and satisfaction from users all appear to be positively affected by the use of the human voice in social media," she added.
In the study, the researchers presented participants with mock social media websites of large, pre-existing for-profit and nonprofit organizations, complete with user comments and direct responses from the organizations' public relations representatives.
The user comments ranged in tones from positive, negative and neutral.
Some social media sites included the name and picture of the organization representative with their messages, while other social media sites only included an organizational presence on their sites with no names or pictures.
The researchers observed that the participants perceived social media websites utilizing conversational human voice much more positively than the websites with only an organizational presence online.
They also found that for-profit organizations were more likely to be perceived as using a conversational human voice than were the nonprofit organizations.
Park believes using human voice on social media can generate important emotions within the receiving community.
"Communicating in a human voice adds a sense of personal and sociable human contact to the interaction with the public," she said.
"We have evidence that perceived 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," she added.
The study was presented at the International Public Relations Research Conference in March.