What is tone of voice and what does it have to do with social media?
Tone of voice is a core part of the branding process. It identifies the language, tempo and sentiment behind everything you say as a company. It reflects how you want to be seen and treated and how you express your messaging.
Why is tone of voice important on social media?
Whether it be LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok, your social channels are often the first time a potential customer will find and interact with your brand.
Anyone can have direct and almost instant contact with your brand on social media. If you are selling a product or service, it is important for your tone of voice to reflect a company that people will want to buy from or do business with. Losing your tone of voice and becoming argumentative, dismissive or rude will damage your brand in an instant. And remember, everything you say online lives forever.
People are aware that there is a person behind every social media post. Talking in an overly corporate tone can come across as robotic and inauthentic. The way you write must honestly and consistently represent your brand – and everyone in the company must be on board.
On social media, it is likely that you will adopt a slightly more informal tone, one that will resonate better in its short-form context. However, it is important that the language you use is consistent with your brand and its persona.
How do you identify your tone of voice?
There are a number of ways to get started.
Ask yourself a series of questions. Get your team involved. Here are some example questions to help you start thinking about your tone:
- What three words describe your company’s attitude to life? How does this impact the way you communicate?
- What words describe the industry in which you operate? How does this affect the way you talk
- How do you want to avoid coming across? What words should you not use
- What are your brand values? How can these be incorporated into your language?
- What is your company passionate about? How do you show this through your voice?
Next, identify your brand archetype. These are personifications of both a brand and its customers’ behaviours and will help shape your messaging and personality. It is common for companies to be a mix of two archetypes to meet differing customer needs. Agreeing your archetype will help you clarify the drivers behind your organisation, which in turn, influences your tone of voice.
What should a tone of voice document look like?
Aim for your tone of voice document to be no longer that a single A4 sheet so that is simple to understand and interpret. You may wish to include it within a wider brand style guide, including elements such as preferred imagery, logos, social media usage guidelines, company purpose and values.
There are many examples of tone of voice documents available online.
- For a B2B example, take a look at MailChimp’s tone of voice or Sprout Social’s tone of voice
- For a consumer perspective, read Starbucks’ tone of voice
- For a technology company example, here is Microsoft’s tone of voice
Who does tone of voice well on social media?
When you think of brands that use social media well, the same names may spring to mind, such as Innocent Drinks, Specsavers and Ryanair.
What these companies have in common is that they have clearly defined their brand and have a tone of voice to match. While their style may not be appropriate for your organisation, what we can learn from them is the power of being consistent, authentic and understanding your audience and the tone and content that will connect with them.
Find out more about how 8020 can support your brand with tone of voice development on our services page.