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Finding your voice

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Mobile phone showing Facebook, scrabble letters spelling social media

One thing that clients have asked me over and over again is ‘how do I write for [insert social media channel here]’.

Writing for social media is different from traditional marketing channels. It’s more a more immediate form of communication, sometimes occurring in real time. It’s a conversation rather than a broadcast.

Generally, we see Facebook and Instagram as less formal channels. LinkedIn and your website are there for more corporate content – and Twitter can be anywhere between.

The thing is, you need an authentic voice, a voice which fits with your brand.
You need to consider your tone of voice before you start posting on social media. This includes:

Audience – who are you talking to?

Language – formal or chatty?

Use of humour?

Visual language, such as emoticons?

Do you think that a corporate law firm will have the same tone of voice as a surf shop? Of course not! Even though a lawyer working at that firm may be a keen surfer at the weekends. They will communicate with their audiences in a tone of voice which suits their business.

Both may have brand values which include the words expert, customer-focused and friendly, but they will express these in different ways.

This doesn’t mean that our surfing lawyer won’t relate to the surf shop’s communications, they’re just aimed at meeting a different need.

You will need to make sure that you use this tone of voice across all your social channels, to build up a consistent picture of your organisation.

I have clients who use social media to express different facets of their organisations, but the whole picture is always aligned to their core brand values.

For example, with one client we use Facebook and Instagram to build a picture of the organisation and its team – we talk about (and show) their fundraising, volunteering, environmental credentials and team-building events and use less formal language and photos.

LinkedIn and Twitter are for product news, case studies and contract wins, so these communications are more corporate in style. The same brand values run through all these posts, with an agreed tone of voice and style, so that if audiences are following them on more than one platform the picture of the organisation they get is consistent. Each channel builds the relationship in a different way.

One client recently won a large contract after a long and detailed procurement process. Afterwards,the customer told us that one thing that set them apart from the competition was their commitment to supporting charitable causes and operating in a way that reduced their impact on the environment. They had found this information on my client’s Facebook page; it hadn’t been provided as part of the procurement process. The new customer commented that it was fantastic to be able to see that commitment, rather than just read about it.

So, be just as careful how you say things as what you say – both will impact your audience and build your business.