By: Matt Solar
More than ever, consumers seek authentic brands with a clear mission, voice, and tone. Strategically developing these features is vital to reaching and connecting with your audience. Every brand has a unique story and way of communicating that can be honed and practiced over time.
Here are a few steps to help your brand find an authentic social media voice and tone, and why it’s so important to do so.
What Is Voice & Tone, Exactly?
Voice and tone are similar, but it’s helpful to think of them as separate concepts. Your brand’s voice should remain consistent across all communication platforms. Tone, on the other hand, might differ across social channels depending on the audience and special circumstances.
Voice: An expression of your brand’s personality; adjective(s) to describe your brand’s communication style
Tone: How your brand’s voice is applied. Can differ across social media channels and situations.
Why Voice & Tone Matter
While consumers appreciate hearing about special deals and new products, they also want to know what your brand represents. Having a unique voice and appropriate tone will help to communicate your values and mission. Essentially, your social media voice will tell your brand’s story.
Perhaps the most important reason why voice and tone matter is the humanizing effect on your brand. Audiences need to feel comfortable engaging with you online and clearly prefer speaking to “real people” over robots. Your brand’s voice will help to form connections, develop trust, and build a rapport with consumers. In turn, visitors are more likely to share, comment, and like your posts.
Your brand’s social media voice should be a recognizable feature that sets you apart from the crowd. Don’t get lost in a sea of content by posting salesy material that doesn’t form connections or tell your brand’s story.
Finding Your Voice & Tone
The best way to discover your brand’s voice is to develop a brand persona. You can do so by answering a series of questions while keeping your audience in mind. Sit down with your team members and stakeholders to answer the questions below. For each, brainstorm a list of adjectives that you’ll use afterward to create guides.
Question 1: What are our values?
Question 2: What sets us apart from similar brands?
Question 3: How do we want to be portrayed? What reputation do we want?
Question 4: Who are we creating content for? What does our audience look like?
Question 5: Why are we on social media? In terms of value, what do we want to offer our audience?
Question 6: How does our audience communicate with us and others on social media? What language and tone do they use?
Question 7: What don’t we want to be described as?
Example Voice Adjectives: Empowering, Direct, Nurturing, Inspiring, Geeky, Playful
With your adjectives in hand, select five or six that stand out. Congratulations, you’ve found your brand’s voice!
Using a template like the one created by Gather Content below, create a few models for your team to reference when posting to social media. You want to demonstrate how your brand’s voice can be applied in various situations. Notice how tone is coming into play here as you give context to your brand’s voice. Using the negative words (written down from question seven), form examples your team should avoid.
To identify the situations that require a specific tone, first, note the differences between the social media channels you’re on. For example, your tone will be more professional on LinkedIn than on Twitter. Next, identify the appropriate tone to use in special circumstances, such as when answering questions, responding to criticism, or retweeting customers.
As you can see, voice is your brand’s personality while tone varies with context. Your brand can remain consistent across social media channels and beyond by creating voice and tone guides for your team. If your brand outsources content creation, the guide can easily be shared with freelance writers as well.
Examples of Brand Voice & Tone
Let’s look at three brands to see how they’ve developed their voice and tone across social media.
Mint by Intuit
Mint is a personal finance app used to manage funds, create budgets, and view credit scores. Across all platforms, their voice is helpful, personal, and compassionate. They often highlight and address the struggle of their audience (young adults and professionals) with a light-hearted approach. Mint also has a dedicated support account on Twitter and frequently hosts live money chats on Facebook.
Calm is an app that provides meditation techniques and suggestions for improving mindfulness. Across their social media channels, they use an inspirational and motivational voice. They frequently post quotes with soothing imagery on Facebook and Twitter. To engage their audience, Calm provides well-being tips and created a hashtag (#YearOfCalm).
The Honest Company
The Honest Company provides baby, home, and personal products free of toxic ingredients. They use a helpful, inspirational, and family-oriented voice across their social media channels. Since their primary audience is concerned mothers, they frequently provide tips and suggestions about parenting.
In just a few simple steps, your brand can find a unique and authentic social media voice. Develop guides that your team can reference to remain consistent across platforms. Do you know of a brand using voice and tone effectively?