When it comes to social media marketing, the metrics by which success can be measured have changed considerably during the last decade. Companies used to preoccupy themselves with earning ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ from Facebook and Twitter users respectively, but this has proven to be largely meaningless and not representative of the level of engagement that actually exists between a brand and its customers.
Instead, the increased emphasis on content marketing has altered the landscape of social media interaction and changed the way in which success is measured. Similarly, it has also ushered in the dawn of new, social marketing methods, including the cultivation of a relevant tone and voice for your brand.
So while you must invest in the creation of relevant, useful and high-quality content, you must also adopt a fitting tone of voice that successfully engages your target consumers across all social channels.
3 Steps to Developing your Brand’s Social Tone
For some brands, however, the challenge lies in capitalising on this social marketing tactic and establishing a viable, social voice in the first instance. With this in mind, here are three steps to help you on your way: –
- Distinguish Between Social Tone and the Voice of your Brand
One of the main areas of contention surrounds the actual term ‘tone of voice’, as this does a disservice to the relationship between these two entities. While they are indeed related and must share a holistic connection, the way in which they interact with one another is often lost on small businesses and entrepreneurs.
In simple terms, your brand’s voice should have the potential to be described with a single adjective, and one relates to the image that you are hoping to portray. This must also govern every single piece of content that you publish and each social conversation that you participate in, as you look to market your business in a way that cultivates trust, loyalty and awareness among customers.
The adjectives used to define your business are usually drawn from its underlying values, such as integrity, honesty and the desire to deliver high quality service.
In contrast, your brand’s tone can be changeable according to the nature of the communication and the medium through which it is interacting, so long as it relates directly to the voice. If your brand has adopted an approachable voice that is friendly and open, for example, the corresponding social tone is likely to be playful and aimed at engaging customers on a personal level.
The most important thing is that you understand the distinction between tone and voice, before combining these to create higher levels of consumer engagement within the social spectrum.
- Define the Way in Which your Customers Use Social Media
There is another crucial stage in this process, as the behaviour of your customers and the way in which they use social media will also have a direct influence on the tone of voice that you use. Gathering insight into this can be performed as part of a wider strategy first defined by copywriter Stephanie Schwab, who breaks beyond voice and tone to explore the character of your brand and your purpose for accessing social media in the first instance.
If you look at the travel sector, for example, you will see a market that accounts for 9.8% of the world’s GDP, and continues to drive exceptionally high levels of engagement online. This is because aspiring travellers tend to access social channels to either source actionable advice or seek out direct deals, meaning that brands must adopt a knowledgeable tone that is communicated authoritatively and in real-time.
This offers a perfect example of how brands can define their customer social behaviour and use this to influence the tone of voice that they use. When this insight is also aligned with an authoritative brand persona and the use of simple, concise language, your social presence is leveraged successfully to create new relationships with customers and establish your business as a prominent thought leader in its chosen market.
This is a detailed process that helps to build a social identity and refine your tone of voice, while also engaging customers according to their own needs and unique demands.
- Make Consistency your Watchword at All Times
By this stage, you will have worked diligently to craft your brand’s social tone and apply this across all social media channels. Now comes the really tricky part; however, as you need to ensure that this tone continues to be applied consistently and in a way that reflects the identity of the brand.
Make no mistake; this is just as important as maintaining a similar logo and colour palette for your communications, as a variable tone (particularly in the well-populated social space) can confuse your message and cause a breakdown in your customer relations.
So how do you maintain this consistency? The key is to establish a clearly-defined set of guidelines for your brand’s tone, stipulating the variable tones that you will apply across each communication platform. This document should also be incorporated as a key part of your overarching brand guidelines so that they can be shared company-wide and influence everyone who interacts with customers through social (and similar) channels.
On a similar note, it is also crucial that you strive to apply your social tone to all relevant, internal communications with staff. After all, we all know that internal content plays a pivotal role in engaging and educations employees, but it also offers brands a unique opportunity to reinforce their tone of voice and the way in which this needs to be applied across specific channels.
Do not be afraid to detail your thought process within your tone of voice guidelines, either, as this helps employees to understand how the brand’s tone has evolved from a core set of values and adjectives.
As you can see, the cultivation and consistent application of your brand’s social tone is something of a process, and which relies on insight, research and understanding. You must ensure that there is a holistic connection between your brand’s values, voice and tone, as this also helps with achieving consistency in the frenetic, changeable and real-time social sphere.