Find Your Social Media Brand Voice

October 21, 2014

Companies spend a lot of time developing and creating a strong and unique voice for their brand; a voice that can be carried across all touch points that fans experience. Social media is no different, and should follow those same brand voice guidelines to create a consistent brand image and persona. Yet social media does present unique conversational aspects that print ads, commercials and many other forms of marketing don’t offer. Today we explore how brand voice translates into social media and how you can drill down your voice even further, so your social media managers can properly represent your brand’s personality online.

Brand Voice

First off, if your brand voice hasn’t been officially defined, start there. Your social media voice shouldn’t be a separate voice from your brand voice. It should be more specific, but not different. Any company looking to better define their brand voice can think about:

  • Company culture and values. All companies have a common goal: to make money. But beyond that, what do you value? What do you hope your product or service does for people? For example, Volvo doesn’t just sell cars, they sell safety. Dove doesn’t just sell soap, they sell empowerment and the idea that you’re beautiful no matter what.
  • Your audience. What types of people use your product and what characteristics define them? Picture your customers in your head and write down what they look like, how they talk, what’s important to them and how they use your product.
  • Personality. If your brand were a person, what characteristics would you use to describe them? Words like professional, playful, authoritative, smart or positive should come to mind: you should have a short list of 5-6 descriptors. One brand I worked with went through an activity where they picked a celebrity they felt best represented their brand. Her personality, interactions and image perfectly fit what the brand felt they wanted to be, and every communication decision and marketing effort was designed to fit that personality.

Finding Your Social Media Voice

Once you have your brand voice, take it a step further and narrow down how this translates online to your social media voice. Things to consider:

  • Tone. Are you always serious when talking with fans? Is it okay to joke around or be funny? Think about your company culture and how this translates online. If your brand is very serious in its marketing efforts and normal online communication, a joke may not translate well when your social media manager replies to someone online.
  • Language. Does your brand us “we” or “I” online when talking about themselves? Are there certain brand words you want to make an attempt to use whenever possible (or avoid)? If your brand is young and hip, is it okay to use common jargon that your community uses?

Try to assign descriptors to your brand characteristics and tone, and a set of short guidelines for language and social media voice. Here’s an example of a simple response that shows the difference between having personality and not:

  • Good: “Ginger, we love the photos you shared of your family enjoying your new camping gear! We are thrilled to hear that the products worked out; and we can definitely take back the stove that you didn’t end up using. Any of our associates are happy to help with that return.” [brand reply to a Facebook post]
  • Needs works: “Yes, we can take back the stove. Please see an in-store associate.”

Notice the use of “we” and the enthusiastic, helpful tone of the first reply. The second response lacks any sort of emotion or sense that the brand really cares about having that person as a valued customer.

For more tips on social media voice, check out this a great article by Social Media Explorer.

Examples of Great Social Voice

For inspiration, read about 20 brands who have totally nailed social media voice. Note that they all aren’t afraid to be different and really show their personality. Some, like Taco Bell, don’t play it safe, they join in on quick-thinking, timely topics like trending hashtags and really joke around with fans. This fits their brand and all their other marketing efforts, like their commercials and advertisements, but it’s translated into a real, live person. Because that’s who they are talking to.

It’s all about the people.

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