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In order to be successful online your style and tone of voice needs to reflect your brand. Having an online voice that jars with your current image will put customers off and confuse them about who are and what you offer.
When developing your social media activity, it’s important to ensure that all of your communication is aligned to your existing brand and consistently demonstrates your values.
If you don’t already have a clear set of brand values this is a good place to start as it will give you a basis from which to design everything else.
I use the grid below when I’m establishing values with a brand and we go through and circle every value we think reflects the brand.
The next step is to place them in order of importance and draw a line somewhere between 5 and 7 values, any more and the voice becomes too diluted.
Most brands select values such as honesty, integrity and trust within their choices. Take these out. These are not values, they are fundamental to any business and so should be integral to everything you do. The values you end up with should clearly reflect your brand and what you stand for that sets you apart.
Once you have your values, consider how they are demonstrated by your policies, products, processes and people. What do they look like in practice and are you consistently fulfilling them.
If customer satisfaction is a core value, are you delivering the best to your customers and how can your social media activity support this? Will you set a time limit for responding to queries, how openly will you deal with complaints posted on your profiles?
Once your values have been identified, you should be able to link all of your communication back to one of them. Keep focused, you can’t be all things to all people.
You should be able to access information about your target demographic from your sales department, but if not then consider who your brand is speaking to. What is the age bracket? Mainly men or women? If you're a B2B company, who specifically do you target in prospective companies?
Getting as much detail down about your target group will give you insight into what will interest them, and you can match your content to maximise on the level of engagement you hope to see.
The best way to do this is to think of your brand as a person. Who would you be? If you've identified your target audience as 30 -45 yr old females, it may be worth making your brand personality the same.
Having a defined personality allows you to speak to your audience with a clear and distinct voice and demonstrates values and interests that match your target group. Consider their interests, what makes them laugh, what do they spend their free time doing. All of this insight will give your brand personality depth and character that you will need to engage well using social media.
Once you have your brand personality identified, make sure you share it with anyone involved in engaging online. There are usually several people involved in writing content for your social media profiles and other marketing channels so making sure these are aligned is key.
Without guidance, you can end up with several voices talking at once and this will dilute your brand and confuse your audience. You can get creative with this and a one-pager is all that may be needed outlining the main elements of your brand personality.
Having a clearly defined personality and giving it a voice creates a strong steer for all communications and allows you to easily identify which of your planned activities do and don't fit. It can also help you to avoid missing the mark or annoying your audience with posts that aren't relevant.
Related to this post, you might also be interested in this post on 5 steps to delivering a successful social media strategy.
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