Interactions on social media or blogs should be through a common voice. Finding that brand voice involves a lot more than just picking someone in the intern pool.
Most companies and organizations have concluded, whether eager or grudging, they need a presence on social media and to engage in content marketing. But discomfort lingers, so the first command decision is who will be delegated the responsibility of tweeting. This is like making a wrong turn into a one-way street.
The whole idea behind consumer or constituent engagement is to build trust. One of the most important avenues to trust is familiarity. You recognize a friend by how they talk. You trust a friend because of their values. The same should be true for a brand.
Here are some of the factors to consider in developing and sustaining a credible brand voice:
If you make hot dogs, your voice should have a different tone than if you are dentist. People associate hot dogs with parties and ballgames. They associate dentists with pain. Your voice needs to reflect your brand personality.
Blogging about hotdogs has more leeway in the use of humor than dentistry, where the focus of blogging should be on putting people at ease about procedures. There is plenty of room to flex personality in both circumstances. You just need to flex the right personality.
Know Your Objective
There are differing reasons to engage on social media, which also can influence the tone of your brand voice. Red Bull wants to envelope people in the active adventure lifestyle it promotes. Comcast wants to monitor social media so it can respond immediately to consumer complaints, in the quest to convert people with problems into ambassadors of the brand.
Entertaining consumers through clever videos will have a different tone than videos showing frustrated consumers how to perform simple but perplexing household fix-it duties.
Getting the voice right demands getting the words right. A brand voice implies a personal voice. A personal voice means using a vocabulary and phrases that fit the person. Paula Deen can use Southern expressions that would sound foreign and off-key in a financial advice blog.
Sentence structure also matters. Shorter sentences convey a sense of honesty. Sentences larded with jargon send a different message.
Wit Means More Than Human
People who spend any time on social media know wit is critical to getting attention. Snappy headlines, ironic twists of phrase and crisp detail grab viewers.
Humor, which isn't the same as wit, can have the same effect, but sometimes in the opposite direction intended. Jokes and funny videos can backfire. Goodwill can turn to good riddance in an instance.
Strive to be witty, but leave the humor to pros like Billy Crystal. Want a good example of witty — follow the example of Ellen DeGeneres, who posts regularly and unfailing with great wit. It is why she has tons of followers and lots of retweets.
Put Your Values Forward
Pope Francis has gathered a huge flock of online followers with his refreshing candor and reaffirmation of Catholic Church values. But Anthropologie, the quirky women's apparel chain, arguably does the same thing, arguing its point of view that fashion is more than trends and should reveal a world of colorful curiosity.
Even through the ethers of cyberspace, people can sense phonies. Your brand voice needs to be genuine and the best way to make it authentic is to hook it firmly onto your values.