What’s your Company’s Social Media and Blog Tone of Voice? Nail One Down…Now

A quickie! I’ve told myself that I am NOT to abandon this site no matter what kind of curveball life throws at me and I plan on keeping that promise alive. It’s not really going as planned, is it? #lol. But I’ve received email requests for updates and on some specific stuff so, I am back in the game and I don’t care what it takes. I WILL continue blogging as long as I can (or am alive to do so). You’ll be surprised at the number of hours (and sometimes days) it takes to come up something of significance. It’s no longer a touch-and-go game…but you already know that!

So, here we go! Out with the grandmother stories and here we go!


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On your website, in your blog, and through your newsletter, how you speak to your readers, fans, customers or affiliates is what will determine whether they will stick around or buzz off.

If they like how you’re connecting with them, they’ll stay; otherwise, there are, literally, millions of other stuff begging for their attention.

As at the time of writing this, according to SEMrush, more than 473,000 tweets are sent and nearly 3.9 million searches are being done with Google. BuzzFeed, one of the leading news and info portal today, is logging in more than 208,000 content views. Even with that said, every page or tweet resonated with viewers a record of…15 seconds max…that’s how long users spend on whatever they’ve found on the internet.

If you asked me, that’s a very optimistic outlook, especially Tweets because as a regular user, IF a Tweet got my attention at all, it would be in micro-milli-seconds.

Like most internet users, because of the flurry of activities and information floating all around them all, I would focus on:

  • title
  • hashtags
  • tone of voice
  • image (if attached)
  • interaction (questions or poll)

Getting them to follow you on any of the social media platforms is only the first hurdle; the second part has to to do with keeping them interesting. Retention is always a far tougher task.

Tone of voice in articles and online social media platforms

When writing this article, my tone of voice is mine and that makes it easy. But how do you, as a company and a brand, establish the right tone of voice to properly and effectively communicate and engage with your consumers and readers?

The way you write and communicate with your audience determines your company’s stance, personality, and brand. It applies across the board whether it is a Facebook update, a blog post or your website copy. It needs to have a consistent tone and this is particularly important to your loyal customers who have become accustomed to your products/services/company.

I understand that sometimes it can sound different because much of what you post depends on:

  • Who you’re addressing
  • The purpose of the Tweet, blog post, website content, product, service, or promotional package
  • The social media or online platform you’re using. The length and tone vary because there’s only so much you can say and explain in a Tweet and summarizing it can change the whole tone.
  • The end-goal of your post

If you’re updating your readers and followers about an exciting up-and-coming event, it will sound completely different from when you’re simply asking your readers/followers for their feedback regarding a new feature or article on your website. I’ve also written another article on how to formulate proper responses to negative online feedback and reviews here.

80% of internet users listen to a brand's tone of voice
80% of internet users listen to a brand’s tone of voice

80% of internet users say that the tone of voice used by a company determines brand retention. The words and language you use tell your customers more about your core values and principles than you’ll ever know. And 80% is quite a staggering number.

They buy into you, not really your products

I’ll share a personal experience with you to illustrate how I often purchase products based on my emotions and feelings. I buy hand-made soaps all the time and these companies are a dime a dozen. In fact, I made hand-made soaps myself (until I discovered how tedious the whole process was and I don’t have the time to make and wait for them) and yet, I continue to patronize one soap company which isn’t even much into online marketing.

The owners are pretty hands-on when it comes to updating company products and the little details about what’s happening in the industry.

It’s a distributor company that has a very earth-friendly agency as they continue to seek out other companies that share their values to collaborate with. As such, the company is not much retail but more of a distributor.

I don’t buy from them because they’re cheaper (they’re not really all that much cheaper) but it’s because they often update their blog and Facebook to highlight some useful nuggets of information about how we, as consumers, can do our bit in our everyday lives to do out bit for the planet.

That’s why 65% of consumers say that they are emotionally connected to the companies they are loyal to. I can’t say enough about the importance of adopting a caring, helpful, intuitive, and friendly way of connecting with your customers.

So, getting your website to go live and optimizing your website for search engines is just the beginning of the game.

How to and who should determine your tone of voice

This is a very hard-to-answer simple question. I am sure you’ve already discussed that during meetings with your corporate communications manager or social media specialist. It could be your CEO who determines the level of interaction, or it could be a branding consultant or social media specialist. All’s good.

The problem emerges when ALL of them determine your company’s tone of voice.

Whatever the case may be, everyone needs to sit down and start off with simple templates, nothing elaborate, and put a bow on what you want to convey and how to do it consistently every day. The person should have analytical skills to gauge audience’s likes and dislikes, enough experience in dealing with brand culture (and it’s ever-changing landscape), decent writing and editing skills, and is someone willing to steer the other way if something is not working.

Believe it or not, people are still reading content online…albeit, a little differently.

Working together as a team to determine a standard tone of voice
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I think starting with a simple template and guideline is the best way to start. As time goes by, you’ll see a more consistent style. If it’s working, stick to it. If it is not, get ready for change…again.

I know it’s a lot to take in when you’re looking at your Google Analytics, Facebook insight, or Twitter analytics – I know because I never fail to look at them with some Chinese traditional ointment applied gently to the temples of my head. The headache and number crunching.

Based on who your audience is, you’ll get a rough picture of who you’re really attracting. What I find useful is to sit down in a quiet place and imagine the kind of person the audience will connect most with. It could be a man or a woman, what kind of dress or suit would he/she be wearing, what is his personality like, what does he like to do, why he/she is passionate about our products/branding/company, etc.

Then, before writing anything down for either a blog post or social media post, I would, literally, step into that person’s shoes and start writing like the imaginary content extraordinaire. Having a mental portrait of that person really helps!

Here’s where you hash out whether you’re going to be funny, serious, formal, promotional, casual, informative, compassionate, respectful, enthusiastic, or nonchalant.

If you’re Nike, you’re always ready to pump people up with stories of successful athletes, telling them that THEY (the audience) can do it too #justdoit

If you’re Chanel, you’d want to be more corporate with Tweets like this:

And of course, if you’re targeting younger audience who are more into interactive media and videos, you’d do what Nintendo America is doing.

And we all know KFC’s target market is the younger demographic, so, they can afford to be snarky, sarcastic, funny, unrealistically comedic, and base their content on Memes (don’t even get me started – lol)

Mimic, not copy

Watching your competitors and what they’re doing is one thing, copying them is another. Nothing sets my sirens off more than copying and pasting. We simply don’t do that. Period.

But what I am suggesting is to mimic their style and type of content. Why? Because it is working! Take your time to research material, save them in a folder or a worksheet, review them, talk them over with your team of people, discuss repercussions and possible comebacks and responses, and then hit it.

One way to really gauge audience response is to watch how people are responding to your competitors’ ads, tweets, posts, and blogs. Yes, this means following and subscribing to your competitors. Have a look at what they’re saying and take your time formulating your own ideas. Warning: Get ready for some hate speech and name-calling along the way. There’s nothing you can do about it because…that’s just the way the internet is these days.

What you’d want to do is to mimic their style, schedule, language use, and then sit down to craft your own. The more relatable your content is, the better. The me-me-me style is no longer working and empathy should be your primary focus. The more ‘you’ you use in your content and posts, the better it seems to perform.

I feel like I am repeating myself over and over but it’s worth saying it again – transparency is everything. A whopping 94% of consumers say they like a company/brand/product a whole lot more if the company was transparent in their agenda. It’s OK even if it’s a shameless plug. The only condition is to say so. Nobody is going to blame you for plugging in your products/services because you can’t escape ads, anyway, but if a company is willing to put it out there and declare it the shameless plug the way it is, consumers are more willing to give it an approving nod of at-least-you’re-honest-about-it. 

Being transparent and out-there wins you brownie points
Credit: Anastasia Vityukova on Unsplash

MailChimp has never been one to shy away from being snarky, humorous or sometimes sarcastic but that’s because that’s the way their target market gel with them. And besides, being sarcastic and dry can leave a more lasting impression on readers.

On the other hand, Microsoft, being a company with a more serious image, adopts a more to-the-point approach. They start with a key takeaway of ‘what’s in it for you’ and talk like an enthusiastic person who is about to announce the gender of their unborn baby, and K.I.S.S. (keep it short and simple).

Get ready to change directions

One of the things about digital and social media management and marketing is that nothing…absolutely NOTHING…stays the same. Your company/product/services/brand can stay the same for decades but the trend changes. Your followers change along with everything else that is happening around them, not you.

So, you’d need writers, planners, and strategists who are always trying to play catch up with trends. It’s exciting and infuriating at the same time.

One moment they’re all about hiking up Mount Everest and another moment they’re sticking laundry detergent into their mouths.

Even when you’ve got it all figured out, there will be times when you’ll feel like walking into a really huge brick wall. But that should not deter you from sticking your basic principle. It takes a really intelligent and responsive team of people to both keep up with the times and trends, and yet not derail from the company’s core values. As much as the trends and habits of consumers change, the company’s brand and image should, more or less, remain as consistent as possible.

It’s only the content and presentation that should change.

So, here’s a recap of what’s in this blog post.

  • Follow and subscribe to your competitors and industry leaders
  • Assemble an intelligent and responsive team of social media and online trend watchers and strategists
  • Keep tabs on what their followers are liking
  • Determine 2 template tone of voices
  • Be on the look-out for new trends and adapt
  • Watch out for hashtags
  • Be as transparent as you can
  • Connect and respond to your readers, customrs, fans, and followers
  • Use an online tool if you have the budget for it
  • Mimic your most successful competitors
  • Determine proper responses to online feedback and reviews
  • Remember that nothing stays the same in the online world

Good luck, take some small risks, test out the waters, and have some fun along the way.