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What’s Your Social Marketing Voice?

Recently, we recorded the first ever StrataBlue podcast. As I was listening to a recording of the StrataCast episode with a couple of my coworkers, one of them asked, “Do I really sound like that to you guys?” After a few seconds, the rest of us replied, “Yep!”

I knew exactly what she was talking about. It can be a little strange hearing your own voice coming from a set of speakers instead of your own mouth. Our brief conversation about her actual vocal qualities got me to thinking about the topic in a broader sense.

In our roles, we’re responsible for representing and upholding the voices of client organizations across a wide range of markets and industries. For skilled communicators, this voice adaptation happens instinctively and seamlessly. However, the importance of doing so effectively cannot be overstated. A company’s voice underlies every piece of communication that it presents and greatly impacts how they are perceived.

Think it through. Before jumping directly into posting and interacting on social media, take the time to intentionally consider how to best represent your company’s existing voice. Imagine your brand being a person. What type of personality do you want to portray? A polished, suit and tie-wearing professional has a much different voice than the fun, easy-to-chat-with guy/gal next door. Selecting the appropriate persona depends on your particular industry and the intended audience.

This is a great way to think of your brand’s voice. Tone, on the other hand, can be thought of as a subset of your voice, adding different flavors depending on the channel, audience or situation. For more assistance in the initial stages of voice and tone development, take a look at this handy 4-step guide from Social Media Explorers.

Steady wins the race. In any form of communication, written or verbal, the recipients filter others’ words through their own experiences and perspectives. This is a common source of misunderstanding. Being consistent and clear in the way you communicate while carefully choosing the words you use can help ensure they hear (or read) what you intend.

To complicate things a bit further, larger organizations sometimes have multiple individuals who distribute content on the same channel. In these cases, it’s critical that brand and marketing communication guidelines are in place so that everyone has a consistent tone and voice. Followers and fans can easily pick up on small changes. Remember, the goal above in step one is to portray a single voice.

Don’t be the stereotypical used car salesman. This tip applies even if your purpose for being active on social media is to sell more used cars! There are few things less appealing than feeling like you’re being coaxed towards a cash register. Ending a tweet or post with “click here to purchase our great widget” or “contact us today to schedule your 30-day trial” are acceptable once in a while, but not as the norm.

Instead, strive to provide worthwhile, engaging content with calls to action that focus on the benefits to the audience. For example, you might develop a social campaign to educate and inform your audience about the important changes taking place in the widget industry landscape. End those messages with a call to action that invites those interested to visit your blog or subscribe to your email list. Social marketing is a great way to have frequent contact with customers and leads while gently moving them along your sales funnel. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it can replace the entire process though.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on social marketing voice portrayal. What companies have you encountered on social channels that effectively match their social voice to their broader brand voice? What specifically did they say (or not say) and how did they say it to accomplish that? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below!