Have you ever had a cold where you speak and all your words come out monotone? Well, that’s a lot like promoting your business in social media without tone, style or “voice” in social media. I wanted to share a few tips at maintaining your voice in social media.
Recently at Social Media AZ, a local conference in Tempe I participated in, I shared my views on how brands can tap into their voice in social media and do it through storytelling. The question on many marketers’ minds is how and why.
What is voice?
There are probably a few debatable views on this, but I feel a brand’s “voice” is a combination of their style, tone, attitude and actions demonstrated towards prospects, customers and the industry. If I was to deduce it down to a couple personalities it would be – are you stern, cold and serious, or are you happy, playful and humble? Choosing one of these is key to forming your voice and personality in social media.
And this goes without saying – it’s not bad to be stern and cold. Some well-respected brands are exactly that and I am happy they are direct and to the point. It depends on your market, industry and what meshes well with your corporate brand.
Why should you have a voice?
Having a voice is essential to brands in social media. It’s their DNA – quite literally. Just as there are 26 pairs of chromosomes in the human DNA, brands have a DNA whether they know it or not. Voice is one of them. (And when you lack or have extra chromosomes, genetic damage occurs that adversely affects the health of the subject.)
It’s what sets you apart from your competitors; it’s what makes your brand unique in the industry.
How to have a voice in social media?
It’s not the most difficult task in the world to share your views. It’s reasonable to say that when I publish messages on behalf of Infusionsoft, a handful of the views are mine, unless otherwise stated. But if I was to mechanically break down some elements of what that voice is, it would be this:
- Not being interested in solely yourself.
- Being helpful even in the light of criticism.
- Telling jokes or subtly adding humor to traditional messages.
- Sharing insights from events happening literally inside the company.
- Praising employees and customers through social media.
- Ask questions.
- Be human. (Admit errors, don’t hide them.)
- Be inspiring.
It’s hard to manufacture voice. Admittedly, I find it challenging to even teach our “voice” to others in the office when they publish updates and respond to inquiries because most of it comes intimately from me. We both know that I can’t scale, so I’m working on breaking this down for my peers.
So where does voice fit into brand standards?
It’s key. Just as you have logo and color schemes, voice might be worth setting a few basic principles for people. It should also feel pretty familiar for whoever is doing the publishing – meaning – it should be native to them.
If I was to pick, I’d say determine the voice after the primary brand standards have been established. It’s just easier that way and allows you to be more true to them.
… And yes, I feel brand standards can apply to social media for many businesses, but not all of them. For many small businesses, the voice is the owner and not a team of people. If it’s the owner, give them no restrictions and let them take the brand farther [hopefully].
The bottom line.
Care. I say this endlessly, but it’s absolutely true. Care about what you say, why you say it and who you say it to. Remember that on the other side of that Facebook or Twitter are people. People have very good bullshit-meters and can tell when you’re faking it. Don’t bullshit them.
[Image credit: roland]