Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are fantastic free business tools.
They allow us to promote what we do, share relevant information and engage with customers quickly and effectively, on a more personal level than ever before.
When we get social media interaction right, the results can be instant and astounding. But used badly, social media may spell disaster for a company’s reputation and future prospects.
The social media content that we post via our business accounts says a huge amount about our brand and its values. But I’m not so much concerned about what we say. More how we say it. Our brand voice, the language that use when posting on social media, directly affects how our business is perceived, shaping customer opinion and interaction (with the potential to turn people on or drive them away.)
So how strong is your brand voice and why does it matter so much?
We’re much more likely to consider brand voice when writing online or printed copy, but we often overlook it when posting on social media. Perhaps these mediums feel more permanent in comparison to the fast-paced environment of sites like Twitter and Instagram, where content turns over at break-neck speed.
Uploading a social media post is quick and simple, so we often dash off these interactions when we have ten seconds to spare, or while we’re juggling other tasks.
How we talk about our brands on social media matters. We spend endless time and money developing a fantastic logo or great looking website for our brand, because we understand the value of a marketing resource that’s instantly recognizable and allows potential customers to instantly understand the values we represent.
A brand voice does the same thing.
When used via social media, a strong and consistently applied brand voice will build enduring relationships with existing followers along with attracting a new audience. People feel comfortable when they know what to expect and can relate to content that’s consistent in its delivery.
A well-developed brand voice does other things too;
- It allows you to streamline your responses and reactions.
- It helps to make your business recognisable and identifiable.
- It helps you to build trust and loyalty by delivering a consistent message.
- It allows your target audience to relate more easily to your brand.
- It allows you to stay in control and shape opinion.
- It helps you to develop a style and personality that’s exclusively yours.
- It helps you to cut out jargon and sale speak, authentically engaging with customers and building relationships that last.
- It provides reassurance to customers but letting them know what they can expect from an interaction with your brand.
- It builds a community around your brand.
If you’re sold on the importance of a strong, unique brand voice, how do you go about developing yours? And how can you apply it to social media once you do?
Developing a brand voice isn’t as difficult as it sound. Follow these tips to locate yours and use it consistently across all social media channels.
Find your voice
A strong brand voice is one based on the core values of a business, so begin by
making a list of the qualities you believe your brand possesses, the values that shape your business decisions and the ethos behind your brand. Are you quirky? Professional? Honest? Fun? Authoritative? Ethical?
Once you have a list of values, you can match your tone to these.
A quirky brand, for instance, might use a humorous, funky, remarkable, surprising or even shocking tone to communicate with customers (avoiding a tone that’s too serious, business like, formal or detached.)
A professional brand may wish to communicate in a tone that’s credible, honest, trustworthy and genuine (and, conversely, shies away from being flippant, hasty, funny or shocking.)
Knowing the tone you need to use in order to convey your message will allow you to select language that positively represents the values of your company and gets to the heart of what make you special.
Decide how you’ll use this voice.
Once you know what tone to take when posting on social media, you can hone your brand voice further, asking questions like;
- Do we use jargon or colloquialism?
- Do we swear?
- Do we speak frankly or take a diplomatic stance?
- Do we wade into debates or stay out of heated conversation?
Even down to the use of emoticons or whether you address customers by name when replying to comment, the more attention you can give to consistency, the more trust and credibility you will build with your following.
If a customer knows that they can expect replies that are honest, professional, timely and with your brand. They may also share this message with others (which is a very good thing.)
Be as one voice.
For many businesses, it’s necessary for a range of users to keep on top of social media updates. If posts don’t come from once source, everyone involved in providing social media updates needs to be familiar with your brand voice and how to use it.
This may involve some training, but a consistent message is vital in ensuring that customers know what to expect from your social media interactions.
Remember, your brand voice isn’t your own voice. When posting on behalf of your business, you should be using a different voice than the one you’d use in your own, personal updates. Every word that you share reflects your business and alters the way in which your audience views you.
A casual comment or joke that might work on your personal account may cause irreparable damage to your business following. Adopting your brand voice before business posting will go a long way to protecting your company’s image and reputation.
At first, it might feel awkward or strange to start using a new voice on social media. Stick with it as the more you use your brand voice, the stronger and more consistent it will become. Writing down some guidelines to refer to when posting is useful, as is reading each post aloud before it goes live. Ask yourself, is this brand trustworthy? Would I do business with these guys? It will soon become second nature to use your brand voice for all social media interaction, it just takes practise.
Tips and hacks
- You may wish to make a list of key words and phrases that summarise your business and insert these into communications in order to strengthen your message (don’t overuse these or you’ll end up sounding like a robot instead of a real person.
- Making a list of language you want to avoid using is also a great idea. How many of us instantly feel angered when we make a complaint, only to have a company parrot phrases like;
‘we value your custom.’
back at us?
Find your own, unique way of saying the things that needs to be said and stick to it.
- Your brand voice on social media might also encompass the fonts, colours and images you choose to use. When practised consistently, all of these different elements work together to make your brand instantly recognizable.