Social media can be a very fickle beast. Just when you think you are heading in the right direction you start to see a drop in engagement, so you switch things up to try something new and the days of planning and strategizing are out the window. Maybe it isn't the strategy that is failing, maybe it's your brand voice. Voice? YES, voice! Social media is all about connecting with your audience. Connections are developed by identifying common interests, senses of humor, vocabulary, and values. Establishing a consistent voice is the key to humanize your brand and develop a connection with your audience. Remember that kid in high school who would change how he acted based on the group of people he was talking to? He never really fit in until he matured and found his voice. Marketing is just like high school except your brand doesn't have acne or go to homecoming dances. Here are a few things to think about when establishing a brand voice.
What Is Voice?
Voice is the personality of your brand. It can usually be summed up with adjectives like professional, witty, energetic or bubbly. Your brand voice should reflect your company culture and values. If your company is very structured with a professional environment, your voice should be pretty cut and dry and informative. If your culture is more relaxed and fun, your voice could be more witty and entertaining. Voice should not be confused with tone. Tone is "A subset of your brand’s voice." Tone adds specific flavor to your voice based on factors such as audience, situation, and social media channel," as described by Kevan Lee of Social Buffer's breakdown on the relationship between voice and tone.
The 3 C's of Voice
So how do you define a voice? There are a lot of adjectives that you could use to describe your brand. But you need to look deeper than a company description. Marketing Land suggests the 3 C's approach: Culture, Community, and Conversation.
Company culture seems to be a buzz word out there on the 'ole world wide web. A simple search for the keyword brings up a wealth of blog articles from the likes of Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and of course Forbes; a who's who of business websites. Investopedia defines company culture as:
"Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company's employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires. A company's culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions, treatment of clients, client satisfaction and every other aspect of operations."
Great, so everything about your business makes up it's culture? Exactly! Ever heard the phrase, "You are a product of your environment?" It's a lot like that. But there are a few specific words we can pull out to help whittle this down and help you establish a voice:
- cumulative traits
Community is an area that I feel gets overlooked on social media, but there is a deep trait that all humans possess which is a sense of belonging. This is what draws us to social media and keeps us coming back. We feel a sense of community, like we belong to something. To help foster this sense of community, brands should take the time to listen to their audience, get a feel for their concerns, and talk with them--not at them. Join the community and learn what you can from your audience. There is no better way to dial in your voice than getting a better understanding of your audience.
The final C is conversation. By using what you learned from your own culture and community, it's time to engage your audience and have genuine conversations with them. Stop selling them and start nurturing that sense of belonging. Develop those connections and share information using your authentic voice. Think about your social media channels as a gathering of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances and approach them in the same manner. This will be far more effective than just posting something to broadcast a message.
Taking That First Step
Now that you are gaining a better understanding of your own brand voice, what's next? It's time to establish your own voice. The first step to gaining a better understanding of your own brand is to create a brand positioning statement. A brand positioning statement looks at your values, your culture, your brand personality, your competition, the areas you excel, the areas you struggle, and the vision for your business. It ties all of these traits together into a nicely crafted package that is the basis for all of your marketing. The process of creating a brand positioning statement will not only help you get a better understanding of your brand but it will help you dial in your brand voice. I recommend checking our our free Brand Positioning Statement Worksheet to help you get started.
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