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How to find your brand’s social media tone of voice

 

Before social media existed, brands simply worked out who their customers were together with their brand values and communicated them appropriately. But Facebook, Twitter and the other 500 forms of social media changed all that. Suddenly brands were required to have a very public form of conversation with their customers. And making the transition proved to be tricky.

Companies are not people. But social media has been created largely for individuals, and demands real interaction on a more personal level. Today, companies are finding they can no longer just put out passive messages or completely dictate the conversation. And some struggle with developing a conversational tone of voice that’s approachable and expressive enough.

“Because social media requires your brand to converse, it’s really important to think about how your brand would sound actually speaking to a customer.”

So how do you find a social media tone of voice that’s right for your brand?

Because social media requires your brand to converse, it’s really important to think about how your brand would sound actually speaking to a customer. Or at a party. Start with the basics. Describe your brand’s personality in three words, and try to make them as distinctive and ungeneric as possible. Are you young? Smart? Witty? Geeky? Sophisticated? Sassy? Warm? Translate those qualities into speech.

How will you attract customers into conversations on social media?

Bruce Daisley, UK Twitter Director, recommends three qualities, at least two of which your brand’s social media tone of voice should possess. He says an effective marketing social media tone of voice can be either fun, helpful or informative in any combination.

You can use social media as a form of customer service in order to be ‘helpful’, and blog posts or tips in order to be ‘informative’. Ideally ‘fun’ should relate to your brand values and the thinking you did about your brand personality. It should permeate real life conversations with your followers.

Thinking about your company’s culture can also be useful. What does your organisation stand for? What do you talk about? What are your unique stories or activities? Let customers in on the brand experience.

Positive social media tone of voice perceptions are enhanced by listening and responding

It’s not enough to decide who you are. It’s important to think carefully about how your customer speaks to you. Be aware of the kind of language they use, and match it. Sainsbury’s did this exceptionally well when a customer tweeted to complain about a chicken sandwich. And O2 recently went so far as to adopt Jamaican patois to respond to a customer.

Find out what your customer community is talking about and what their concerns are. Some scheduling is useful, but relying too heavily on it can make your brand sound fake. Encourage customers to talk to you by asking questions and responding with authentic, non-automated answers in real time.

Don’t forget your social media call-to-action

Effective social media writing means bearing your end goal in mind. What do you want your customer to do? Keep it simple and stick to one call-to-action per post, status update or tweet. Sometimes the straightforward approach works best e.g. ‘like this if you want to show your support’ or ‘please retweet’ and this is what’s likely to get the greatest response.

Still struggling with a social media tone of voice that’s right for you? Let Oxygen’s PR agency experts and copywriters help. We can draft your social media tone of voice guidelines, or build your social media networks for you. Call us today on 0845 2606 255.

 

 

Steve Lodge: Steve trained as a NCTJ journalist and is an experienced copywriter. He has over 15 years in agency, and started Oxygen in 2002.