Researchers have learned use of a 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.”

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 to 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.

Observational research determined that participants perceived social media websites with a conversational human voice much more positively than those with only an organizational presence online.

The researchers 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,” Park 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 said this study provides a fundamental building block to help practitioners and scholars better understand how social media can be used to manage relationships.

Source: University of Missouri