Previous to working at Gossip Genie, I lived and worked in the UK. This meant I predominately targeted a British audience in my PR and social media work.
This all changed when I moved to Chicago and became a fellow Genie. Many of our clients are U.S. based and we manage their social media channels. Suddenly, I had to learn how to use an ‘American voice’ in my outreach and it has certainly been an interesting experience getting to grips with a U.S. audience.
Firstly, it took me a little while to get familiar with different words and spellings. That ‘mum’ should be ‘mom,’ that ‘learnt’ should be ‘learned,’ that ‘colour’ is ‘color,’ that ’sweets’ are ‘candy,’ and that you can never, ever use the word ‘awesome’ enough here. And then there’s the date format: always write the month, then the date of the month: December 25th, not 25th December – it’s only acceptable to do that when writing 4th of July.
Now, these new word formats have become a habit and sometimes I accidentally use them when emailing my British friends back home – and they don’t hold back on calling me out for it.
Exclamation marks are far more prevalent in the U.S. social media world, too. I remember during my three-year journalism course at university, we were permitted to use only one exclamation mark in our writing, otherwise we’d fail.
There’s also a different tone of voice. I am going to generalize here but, based on my experience, American consumer brand messages tend to be more positive, upbeat and excitable. Whereas, that needs to be toned down for a British audience. We like sarcasm. ‘Sales talk’ and cheesiness isn’t as commonly accepted there.
For example, McDonald’s UK‘s tweets to customers contain far fewer exclamation marks and smiling emoticons, in comparison to the McDonald’s U.S. twitter feed. Or let’s compare the UK and U.S. versions of Elle Magazine on Twitter. The U.S. version likes to tweet EXCITEMENT using capital letters, whereas that doesn’t happen on the UK version. For example, look at their different approaches to celebrating Brooklyn Beckham’s birthday today:
So, in conclusion, Brits are a miserable bunch. Just kidding! <- note the use of an exclamation mark. The conclusion of this article is that it has been a great experience learning how to work with a different audience, just like I am enjoying broadening my understanding of the U.S. press (particularly the local press in Chicago) during my PR work here.