Hearing Voices: Getting The Brand Voice Right In Social Media

If you went out to the mall and asked random people what type of person any particular brand would be if the brand were to one day wake up as a human, you’d find that people most certainly do project personality onto brands.

In social media marketing, the most successful companies are having one-on-one conversations — if not with their customers, then at least with the communities that matter to them. It’s fine for individuals within the brand to have their own unique voice, but when the brand speaks, it’ll be liked and trusted a lot more when it has a well-defined and consistent personality. If the voice changes along with the shift of each community manager, the brand just isn’t going to foster that trust.

Enter the real world. We all get busy with our work and forget such things as brand voice. We have to post replies on Facebook, and set up that Twitter chat — not to mention spend some time with our reporting software to check up on our share of voice. And gee, we all have a good sense of our voice, so what’s the problem?

If you look closely, though, you might find that your voice is inconsistent — or worse, not at all what it should be. By scheduling a regular social media brand voice checkup, you can help ensure that your brand stays on track and even improves.

Put It On The Calendar

I’m going to begin here with the assumption that you’ve already worked out what your brand voice should be. You might have created a reverse persona board for your brand and have a huge wall in your marketing department dedicated to your persona. Or, maybe you’ve just got a good gist of what it should be. Whichever the case, you need to create a recurring calendar event, and do an audit on a regular basis. For a while, it may even be a good idea to do it weekly until you feel your team is consistent.

The BIG Rule: You can’t audit your own work. This is a bit like copy editing — you might be able to suss out some amount of inconsistency in your own posts, but you’re still going to be blinded by confirmation bias. If you’re the community manager, get someone else to do the brand voice audit.

Pull the posts out of their social media platform context, and paste them into a word processor document or spreadsheet. Sometimes, by changing the context, you can get a better feel for the words themselves, to see if they hold up. It also helps to remove all of the straight retweets or other content that you don’t want included in your audit.

Are you curating a lot of content? There’s nothing wrong with that — but if you are, pass that curation through the lens of Does it reflect my brand? For instance, if you’re a management consulting company, sharing a tweet about Honey Boo Boo might not reflect your brand voice. If, on the other hand, you’ve added a comment about how Honey Boo Boo’s style could be useful to your customers, you might have something.

Take note, too, of the tweets or posts that are perfect exemplars of your brand voice. It pays to reinforce what really works.


Sometimes, it’s challenging to put your finger on why a particular post doesn’t sound right. A lot of business social media can seem a bit bland and without personality.

You could try running a mini-hackathon with your social media team. Let’s throw a tweet up and see what happens post review:

We’re hiring! New #PPC job opening! Join our team & put analytics skills to work. {link}

On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with this tweet. In this case, though, the brand has defined their voice as one that is at the front of the classroom — one that might even be coming from the professor in the bow tie at the podium — and capable, perhaps, of just a little fun. We might rephrase the tweet above like this:

Heart beat faster with A/B Testing? Find #CRO inspiring? Analytic wonks wanted. Join our team of PPC maniacs {link}

Now, you might argue the merits of second tweet: perhaps it’s showing too much personality. But we’re talking 140 characters here, so pouring it on is merited.

Sometimes, the difference can be more subtle. Note how in this Facebook post, Mini-Cooper is friendly without being an over-the-top cheerleader:

This is your official warning: you have 6 days left to secure your Co-Pilot seat in the MINI Coupé headed to ALL THE WRONG PLACES. This time, that place is South Africa. Coming with? Apply now!

Chevrolet had a post that is similar in content, but slightly different:

Here’s your last chance to vote for the Best Chevy of All Time. The ’69 Camaro leads the ’70 Chevelle SS by 1,333 votes. Which one do you think should wear the crown? Vote now.

At the time of the two posts cited above, Mini-Cooper was and is still the exemplar of “fun” in automobiles. Chevrolet’s main focus at that time was safety. If you’re trying to be all about safety, the Mini-Cooper voice wouldn’t be appropriate.

Sometimes, taking a bit of extra time to compose a tweet or post and really getting that voice right can result in messages of much more value. As you keep practicing to get that voice just right, you’ll find that the words flow more quickly. Through constant review and improvement, the quality of your social media communications can improve dramatically and, ultimately, help communicate your difference.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Branding | Channel: Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing Column


About The Author: is the author of the DragonSearch Online Marketing Manual and Social Marketology (McGraw Hill 2012) and the ceo/co-founder of DragonSearch. He is a regular speaker for Google at their Get Your Business Online seminars. Dragon frequently speaks about the convergence of social media, process, information architecture, and sociology.

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