Tone & Voice In Branding: Putting the Social Back In Social Media
Have you considered the voice & tone of your brand lately? Whether or not it was a conscious decision, voice & tone form the basis of writing copy for digital & social media marketing. Your brand has a voice & tone online that affects your audience’s perception of how you conduct business, so you should be conscious of how you are portraying yourself on the world wide web.
First, it would be a good idea to define what voice & tone mean in regards to your brand. If you had to describe the personality of your brand in an adjective or two, that is your brand’s voice. Tone, on the other hand, is ever changing; it’s the way that you can alter your voice based on a certain situation or audience. To give an example, if your brand could be described as laid-back and informal in its content online, you would most likely not continue with that voice when a complaint or bad review comes through on social media. The Twitter account of Domino’s Pizza is a great example of voice & tone in motion:
(For the sake of privacy & decency, the content that caused the responding tweet has been removed along with the name and handle of the person reporting it, but just assume that the offending manager may take some liberties with food preparation.) Here we can see that an innocent tweet by Domino’s that was intended to be funny & relatable to their followers was co-opted by a customer(?) to bring up an issue at one of their franchise locations. In their response, Domino’s drops their usual air of informality and changes their tone to match the gravity of the situation.
Now, it may be obvious to just about everyone that customer complaints should be taken seriously, but it can still be done while remaining true to your brand’s voice. When done deliberately, this can tie in the humanity & authenticity that your brand has worked so hard to create. An individual reaching out to the corporate social media account belonging to a brand of their choosing does so because they have come to expect a human interaction despite the inherent facelessness these corporations tend to have. This makes finding and developing authenticity in your voice & tone paramount to copywriting & content marketing on social media.
Yes, video may be king in the world of online media, but the written word still has its place because it lends itself to the “social” aspect of social media. Let this idea inform the formation of your voice & tone; you’re speaking to real people, and you’re a real person, so let your brand act as an extension of yourself or the personality you would like to convey. Let’s take a look at another example, this time through the Instagram of Plato’s Closet Wausau, WI:
As highlighted through a previous blog, informality is becoming the new formality on social media. Being a resale clothing franchise without an online store, many of J Miller’s Plato’s Closet clients conduct a business of highlighting new arrivals and popular items through their Instagram & Facebook accounts and placing them on hold at the request of customers on a first comment, first served basis. Within an hour of this outfit being posted, multiple people were already clamoring for first dibs. This store in particular does a great job of creating a dialogue between their customers: they mirror the informal manner in which these prospective customers respond, which conveys a conversational voice with a relaxed tone.
Most stores won’t see this type of customer engagement overnight, however. It has to be cultivated through thoughtful & reliable responses over time by the manager of their Instagram account in order to build trust between the brand and the consumer. Once you establish a unique personality for your brand, the human connection will follow. In short, this is a store that has a grasp on its voice & tone that translates directly to in-store sales.
Now it’s time to try it yourself! Remember to establish and develop your brand’s voice by understanding what your ideal audience expects in online interactions & content. Use tone to adapt your voice to the situation at hand and define its humanity. But most importantly, don’t overthink your writing; put the “social” back in social media.
By Nick Shulda
Online Media Strategist