It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that the difference between a good social media channel and a superlative one is having a strong and consistent voice. No matter how much strategic planning, executive buy-in and resources you throw at your social media presence, nothing will endear you to your clients and stakeholders as much as creating a unique and memorable voice.
Your social media voice encompasses all the words, terms and expressions that flow across your social media channel. Their purpose should be to foster and reinforce engagement between your company and your clients. The voice should depict how you want your clients to see you.
That’s all a rather dry way of explaining something that needs to come off as organic and spontaneous. Do you want your company image to be hip or helpful, sophisticated or irreverent. With so many options to choose from, and with humans being as they are, it’s all too easy for your social media content to have an inconsistent and erratic voice, something that no business in their right mind would want. When your voice differs across your channels it can be almost impossible to achieve an authentic identity that is so essential to fostering trust between you and your clients.
Strategies that you can employ to improve and clarify your social media voice don’t have to cost the world or take a long time. But they are a valuable exercise to assist you with connecting your social media content with the image you want to portray. The following are some pointers on how to clarify what you want your organisations social media character to be.
Culture and community
Your social media voice should stem from the culture of your organisation. If you decide to adopt a whimsical, sprightly voice for an organisation that is serious and no-nonsense, then this will become obvious pretty quickly. At the same time it’s also important to think about your community of stakeholders. They will be gauging how to interact with you through your social media voice. You can do this by making sure you’re speaking their language and projecting a clear and consistent image.
Think of the social media voice as they great narrator of the story of your venture. As such, techniques like storyboarding are a great method to develop character and story, just as you would when writing a script. Figure out everything your organisation likes, dislikes, your goals and who you want to be. Through this you’ll be able to define your voice with even more precision.
Develop your feedback loop
It’s important that you have a consistent approach to how you respond to those who engage with you on your social media channels. Do you know what to say when you receive an adversarial or negative comment on Twitter? Are you making an effort to strengthen your relationships or just providing glib and shallow responses? Ensure all your interactions have the same goal, to reinforce your desired voice.
Watch your language
Are you trying to connect with an audience that has a niche sensibility and knowledge-base. Is jargon appropriate? Will speaking frankly on certain subjects alienate people or stimulate conversation? Do you have an appropriate balance of colloquial and professional language across all you channels? Asking yourself these questions can help you make sure you don’t confuse, or even upset, your audience.
Once you have a good idea of what you want your voice to be, it’s time to start thinking about how you can highlight this across different social media channels. You might think about creating a social media style guide. Hitting the right tone can be tricky and guiding your social media authors can help them, and you, avoid heartache. It’s no use going to the effort to define all the elements you see as essential to creating your ideal social media voice, and then the intern retweets the latest inappropriate meme.
Hootsuite have a very handy list of what your social media style guide should include. Even if you don’t need a formal style guide, it’s still a great checklist for everything you need to be thinking about when strategising for your social media voice.
Hootsuite’s suggested template for a social media style guide
- A list of active accounts and contacts
- Your social media goals
- Audience breakdown
- Tone of voice
- Ownership (i.e. should individual authors sign-off on their posts)
- Cross-platform publishing
- Where to source content
- Punctuation guidelines
- How to give credit
- Using links
- Platform-specific guidelines
- Content calendar
- Image and design guidelines
- Legal considerations
Happy tweeting, facebooking, insta-ring …. etc!
Cheers, Jack and the c word crew