The following is a post by Alastair Kane. His bio is at the end of the article.
When it comes to professional social media, the line between ‘friendly voice of advice’ and ‘boring, repetitive, promotional show-off’ can be thin.
With the ability to make or break campaigns, the social voice and presence dictate what brands should say, and how they say them. For best engagement results, social media must be consistent, seamless across channels, well regulated and develop a brand’s personality. Posting regularity, responsiveness and activity play a sizable part in this, but the composition of social posts themselves – largely conveyed through tone of voice – can have a dramatic impact on success.
- Make your brand more accessible and less ‘corporate’ to the public. By broadcasting your organisation’s personality and attitude, you become an approachable presence rather than an inaccessible giant. Starbucks do a great job of this on their Twitter account. Although their tweets relate to their products, they do so in a way that relates to the customer rather than the business.
- Keep people well informed. From your own company news, to your thoughts on your industry, your social feeds should be relevant, appealing, and contain the information people would expect from your brand. Irrelevant posting is a sizable turn away for followers – remaining an informative thought leader is important. The Ford Motor Company, which is often cited as a brand getting ‘social’ right, set up a site specifically for this. It enables subscribers to post questions or voice complaints and also acts as a channel for Ford to dispense relevant information about cars in general.
- Encourage interaction. Friendly accessibility puts people at ease, causing them to warm to your brand and product – building a loyal following.
- Target a wider audience. As you can broadcast and interact with a much larger audience, raise brand awareness, maintain a buzz about your brand and encourage loyalty, having the right social tone spreads reputation as well as your message to a lot of individuals.
- Enhance customer service. Social media is, of course, a platform for fast and effective responses to customer queries, and most expect complaints and other interactions to be dealt with quickly, effectively and politely. As an extension of other client and customer communications, tone of voice must be especially rational here.
In addition to tone, social activity must be regulated and balanced. Too much or too little posting will only be detrimental.
Keeping clarity across channels
For best results, your social tone must be consistent, well regulated, and seamless across channels. If more than one person runs your social accounts, make sure they communicate with each other to avoid multiple messaging, or wildly different writing styles. Usually your social posts will follow in the style of your other branded content, so cross-channel consistency that supports the corporate voice as a whole, should be straightforward.
Whatever your style, it should be tailored to the audience you want to connect with. Often styles are chatty for a B2C brand, less so for B2B — your posts should strengthen brand message clearly. Followers shouldn’t be confused as to how to perceive your brand. Clarity can also be maintained through selective social use. It’s perfectly fine not to use all channels – in fact focused care of just one or two may be better. You should select your social sites based on relevancy to your brand audience. For example – If your audience are unlikely to use Instagram or Facebook, don’t waste time on them!
Enhancing familiarity and loyalty
Once a brand has developed an appropriate voice, it must remain consistent across all communications channels. Keep interaction accessible: social tone should be friendly, encourage trust, and be recognisable from social to email and any other communications. But don’t be a social pest! Econsultancy state that the top three reasons people unfollow on Twitter are over activity, too much promotion and ‘spammy’ activity.
Keep in mind:
It isn’t personal. Though they use the same platforms, corporate social media is not the same as personal. Regulated style can help larger organisations keep tone of voice consistent if multiple individuals are in charge of accounts. Regulations will also dictate how people should respond appropriately, and ensure brand channels remain polite, professional and friendly, even if facing complaint.
Your audience is unpredictable and easily offended. Personal social audiences are very different to brand audiences. With personal social media, you’ll know your audience, often in real life, so can tell what entertains, interests, and offends. For brands, audience type is never as easy to judge, as it will be more diverse and less tolerant. Content that appeals to 40% of your demographic may repel another 20%.
Brands, don’t lose it. Ever. Social media is a brand’s ambassador, representing corporate values and image at all times. So even with difficult messages or in a social media crisis, it’s important that the corporate voice never gets angry, uses expletives or posts inappropriately. If necessary, social content should be approved first, and social posters given help and advice in difficult situations.
Ultimately whatever the communication, if social tone is consistent, on-brand and facilitates two-way engagement, brand social media should achieve its goal of encouraging audience relationships and enhancing brand loyalty – in the social world and in reality.
Above all, strike a balance
A good rule for branded social media content is to keep an 80:20 split – that is, limit your promotional messages to 20% of your total output. Too much promotion and too much tweeting can actually be detrimental to your promotional efforts and blogging strategy, despite its obvious abilities to improve your audience reach and brand awareness.
In short, however nice your voice is, nobody likes a big mouth. Sometimes, you say it best when you say nothing at all. In addition, an annoying social presence which is over-active, overly promotional, irrelevant or too unprofessional (among other reasons) can lose you followers too.
Assuming social posts are correctly constructed (with hashtags and links in appropriate places for appropriate networks), if posts follow the points above and are grammatically correct, you’re on the way to constructing a good social voice.
Just remember. It’s not always what you say, but how you say it.
Alastair Kane is a Digital Marketing Executive with Strategic Internet Consulting, a UK based digital marketing agency.