It is necessary to understand that your business has its own persona. Every brand should be treated as a living being, and you must define its characteristics and voice in the first place. Whenever you do anything such as a product launch or communicate with your audience on social media, you need to maintain that voice.
Just the way you need a logo and a tagline for your brand, you need a definite brand voice. The challenge here is that this voice needs to be constant throughout all your social media channels. One of the primary reasons for this is that brands which are consistent across all channels are 3-4x more likely to get brand visibility. While this may seem like an uphill task, with some planning, you can achieve it with ease. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Define Your Brand Voice
Defining the brand voice is the most basic and critical step of maintaining a consistent voice on social media. It is due to this reason that many brands don’t define it in the first place. In fact, only about 33% of all brands have a documented content strategy in place, and brand voice is an integral part of this strategy.
Image via Content Marketing Institute
To define your brand voice, you can start off by creating a storyboard. This essentially concentrates on creating a character of your brand. You can set its goals, likes, dislikes, and other characteristics. Based on these, you will be able to come up with a persona for your brand.
You should also have a social media customer service strategy in place. In this, you’ll need to define how your brand shall respond to the audience on social media. This is because all the members of your team need to maintain the same voice while communicating with the customers.
You can even add some humor into the mix like Wendy’s. It helps to have some light-hearted conversations with your fans too.
Image via Medium
2. Reinforce the Brand’s Beliefs
Every brand has its own set of beliefs. What does your senior management, such as your CEO or founder keep repeating? How do you want your brand to be perceived by your customers? All these questions can help you understand your brand’s beliefs.
These beliefs could be honesty, friendliness, trendy, politically correct, etc. According to Sprout Social, one of the most sought-after brand beliefs was honesty. About 86% of consumers want the brands to be honest on social media. It was also no surprise that the least favored behavior of brands was snarky.
Image via Sprout Social
While it isn’t wrong to be snarky, you must understand that this behavior should match up to your brand’s beliefs. This method of communicating works very well for Wendy’s as shown in the previous example. The key is to keep your fundamental ideas constant across all the channels. Doing this will create similar experiences which can help you drive people through your sales funnel.
On the contrary, if your brand has inconsistent behavior and gives a bad experience to the users, they may unfollow you. In fact, it is one of the major reasons for millennials unfollowing brands.
Image via Sprout Social
When your core values and beliefs are reinforced well, there are better chances of your voice being maintained across all channels, including social media.
3. Have It All Penned Down
You may think that you have defined your brand voice and its beliefs. However, it is a good idea to write it all down. This style guide should be the ultimate go-to destination to ensure that all your communication remains consistent even when multiple members are involved in the process.
Additionally, the written document is self-explanatory and saves you valuable time as compared to explaining it individually to each employee. At the same time, the document also communicates the details clearly to the concerned employees. Even when someone needs to brush up on their knowledge, all they need to do is to look through the document.
You’ll also need to be very specific in this style guide. Some of the things that should be outlined are:
a. Word Types
The words that you use when communicating with your audience matter a lot. For instance, if you’re a brand that deals with a corporate audience, the words, and the language, in general, have to be formal in nature. Instead, if you’re a restaurant chain, the language that you use has to be informal and friendly. It needs to be simple for the end users to understand.
Jargons are unique to every industry and sector out there. Be it marketing, banking, or even engineering, you’ll have some specific words that only the relevant participants can understand. However, when you’re dealing with an audience on social media, there may be people who have no idea about these jargons. They may get put off due to the same reason.
Additionally, you must define the usage of emojis and acronyms such as LOL, and LMAO too. These may not be suitable for all brands out there.
c. Sentence Structure
The sentence structure should be well-defined in the document. Usually, shorter sentences work better on social media. Ones which are long and complex might make your audience lose interest. This can lead to a reduction in engagement.
It’s also a good idea to use abbreviated words such as We’re and Y’all rather than We are and You all. The guide should also state the ideal length of your sentences. They should be short and crisp such that the audience should be able to read them aloud in a single breath.
d. Visual Branding
While visual elements may seem like standalone pieces, they are a critical part of your style guide. More than text, videos and images can catch the attention of people on social media. This is why it is important to ensure that all your visual content is also consistent throughout.
Whatever text may appear in your videos should also be written in the same tone as other text. Similarly, all the content showed in the photos and videos should echo the brand’s beliefs and be in line with the defined voice.
Starbucks is a good example of a brand which is keeping a consistent voice across all platforms – from web site to social media accounts. Even the baristas that are working in their stores are using an informal tone of voice and friendly language.
Let’s take a look at Starbucks Instagram profile:
Image via: Starbucks Instagram
It’s easy to conclude how Starbuck is consistent with their visuals too. As we can see from the photo above, the main character in both – images and videos is…the cup, of course. They are also following a color scheme in photos by using the same main color and its variations. If you scroll down through their Instagram, you’ll notice the color scheme changes as trends and seasons change, but the cup is always there!
4. Don’t Bait and Switch Communication
Bait and switch communication can be extremely harmful to your brand’s reputation. It mainly means that you start off communicating with your customers in one way, but their communication experience changes as they go down your funnel.
This can create a terrible impression, and your audience can feel tricked and cheated due to this reason. In fact, about 66% of people thought that they were duped by a brand when they realized that they were reading a sponsored post. However, if the brand is honest with its audience, they may even end up purchasing in spite of knowing that it’s a sponsored post.
Image via Contently
The customers value honesty from the brand, and while you may feel like you can get away with deceiving them with paid content, it can have serious repercussions. Do ensure that you mention clearly that the content is sponsored. Your messaging across all your communication channels should be consistent, clear, and honest. Even if you do end up making a mistake, you must own up to it.
Even if there’s something you’re believing in or are dealing in, you must make it known to your audience. For instance, if you’re selling organic items, you must make it known to your audience and even make it easy for them to find information related to it.
5. Always Question Yourself
You may have defined your brand voice and had it penned down too. However, there are still some chances of errors creeping in. To avoid this, and to improve even further, you need to keep questioning yourself every time you communicate over social media.
Every word, phrase, or sentence that you write should be questioned to see if it matches up to your brand’s voice and beliefs. This even applies to images, infographics, and videos that you create. Doing this will ensure that you’ll never deviate from the standards that you’ve set up in your style guide.
6. Monitor Audience Engagement
Social media users approach brands regularly to have direct interactions with them. This can be through comments or even messages. Every time that you respond to them or even so much as like their comments, you’re using your brand voice.
You need to ensure that whenever you’re doing so, you maintain consistency and stick by your style guide. Additionally, an increasing number of customers seek resolution of their issues on social media. In fact, about 46% of customers have used Twitter to reach out to brands for their problems and expect a response in an hour.
While it may be very overwhelming for your staff to deal directly with the consumers on social media, you need to ask them to stick by your brand’s voice. How your brand deals with an angry customer will speak a lot about it. Respond well to them, and you might even win some new customers.
Maintaining your voice across all social media channels is essential. To do this, you must first define it well and pen down your entire style guide. This should be distributed to all those handling communication over social media.
Also, you must be honest with your audience at all times and shouldn’t bait and then switch the communication style. Monitoring your audience engagement and questioning yourself continuously can help as well.
What are the other methods you use to maintain a consistent voice on social media? Let us know in the comments.
About the Author
Petra is an internet marketing specialist at Point Visible, a digital marketing agency providing custom blogger outreach services. In her free time, you can find her on a tatami trying to improve her aikido techniques or in the local pub with her friends. Also, she’s a coffee & chocolate addict.