By Caroline Henley

February 11th, 2015

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Shudder. Are you turned off yet?

Choosing the right social media voice for your brand is so, so important for your social media content strategy. If you expect people to read and engage with the content you’re putting out into the world, you’ll find you’ll need to create consistent messaging that adds something to your followers’ day-to-day. Voice is an element of that other side of ROI. It’s not immediately measurable, but is just as important to consider when building a digital presence.

To do this, we recommend setting up guidelines for defining your social media voice—and sticking to them.

All eyes on Falcon

If someone takes a look through Falcon.io’s writings, there should be a discernible unified voice between our blog, handbooks, and posts across social. We’re always conscious to align our messaging to our overall business goals, which include providing our readers with social media marketing best practices as best we can in this ever-changing landscape, and hopefully contributing to and inspiring conversations through the grey areas. (And if we’re doing our jobs well, we should be going above and beyond to make our readers’ days an absolute delight, as well.)

We distribute a brand book within Falcon that includes guidelines for writing in our voice. Many companies do this, and it’s worth all the internal work that goes into it. Not only is a brand book helpful when onboarding new employees, but it also serves as a practical way to keep everyone (no matter how long they’ve been at the company, because these things change fast!) on the same page.

Social media voice

Falcon.io HQ in Copenhagen

Know that developing and writing in a consistent social media voice isn’t easy, and expect a learning curve. Writing in and of itself can be quite tough, and writing in another voice is another challenge altogether. Any writer improves with practice. I love super-lame puns, which can get me in trouble on Falcon’s content team. Writing in a distinctive voice takes a lot of tweaking, and I don’t take these edits personally (mostly because I have a theory that they’re storing my awesome puns for future use).

A voice without a face

So how do you decide on a voice for a faceless brand? Unless you’re a bot, you’re sure to have a face somewhere behind the computer.

Marketing Land has a great list of “20 Great Social Media Voices.” It’s a couple years old, but still offers a range of examples of social media voices, from the whimsical (Target) to the smart and geeky (General Electric).

social media voice

And what if you have more than one person replying to fans on your account? Surely the voice will change between everyone’s varied writing styles. This is inevitable, and can actually play as a strength for your social media voice. It personalizes the account and allows for stronger connection with fans.

I’d recommend answering a few questions that will help define your writing style:

  1. What company values or traits do you want to have come across?
  2. What exactly is unique about your company or brand, or what is unique that you offer your industry?
  3. How do you want to converse with your customers, or potential customers? What do you want to offer them, and how would you like to come across?
  4. What action do you want your readers to take, or come away knowing that they hadn’t already known?

Working through these answers will allow you to define a voice that is powerfully tied to your business objectives. Then you can have fun with it.

Let’s get weird

Take a look at a couple extreme examples of setting a social media voice, with two examples I absolutely adore.

In May and June of last year, Velveeta made waves with a slew of posts that made no sense at all. Velveeta, a cheese product that might seem dated to the average social media demo, introduced an unnamed male character into its Facebook posts. And for a brief wonderful stint, Velveeta went out-of-this-world weird.

Blog-image-Finding-Your-Social-Media-Voice-820x400

Uh… what?

He appeared just a few times, to the delight of Velveeta’s new hoard of Facebook fans and social media marketing blogs alike. After the Father’s Day post, the character was never seen nor heard from again. We’ll never know what happened to the silver-haired Velveeta Man (or his creepy baby).

Wheat Thins is also notable in its weird posts. The voice is clever without being negative, and clearly knows how to keep an otherwise irrelevant snack chip front and center each day.

social media voice

Wheat Thins has taken a chance with its voice, and it has paid off. 244k followers—not bad for a cracker!

Getting this quirky sort of voice down isn’t easy, and moreover, probably isn’t the right angle for most corporate accounts. Make sure you are always keeping your follower data in mind, and adjusting your content strategy between the social networks from there.

Social media is about opening up a conversation, engaging with audiences in a way that was not possible before. Voice plays a huge role here. If you’re consistent, nail down guidelines, breathe some personality into the feed, and get creative, you’ll see your social efforts take off.

Let’s talk, mano a mano

The sort of mass-messaging approach that dominates many companies’ social efforts won’t last for long. I think that social media will evolve into more of an advanced form of customer service, with messaging increasingly drilling down to a one-on-one approach. The technology is already there. It’s the resources and the habits that still need to shift. Employees who are at work on developing and amplifying a social media voice will be more in demand, as there will be much more writing and content needed. The next step from there will be scaling these efforts to reach more and more people as individuals. 

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