Establishing Your Brand Voice on Social Media

Opinion: Inconsistencies can sabotage your entire social strategy

Have you defined your brand's social voice? RichVintage/iStock

Creating a strong brand identity on social media involves many facets—logo, typeface, taglines and more—but one of the most important is the development of the brand voice. When we say brand voice, we mean the authentic personality of your brand. Ask yourself: “Who would my brand be if it was a real person? What would it sound like?” That is the voice of your brand.

Voice is the most critical aspect of defining your brand identity because it serves as a framework for your social content. Everything from tweets to blog posts should speak seamlessly to your audience across platforms and posts. Inconsistencies can sabotage your entire social strategy.

Here are a few steps for simplifying the process of establishing your brand’s voice for social:

Know your audience

Think about what your current followers want to hear about from your brand. It can help to use a tool like Facebook’s Audience Insights to see demographic and psychographic information about your audience. This can help you determine how you frame your voice and content on social.

If you discover that your page’s followers are all over 65, creating a lot of meme-based content won’t resonate. Spend some time getting to know your audience, and the ideas for how to speak to them will follow.

Try some exercises

One of our favorites at Ignite Social Media is the “we are, we are not” exercise. This helps you to determine boundaries for how you will write on social media. It’s easy to do, but it is also easy to mess up. Each “we are, we are not” should work as a boundary for your writing and voice.

Good example: “We are funny. We are not goofy.”

Bad example: “We are smart. We are not stupid.”

See how the first “we are” example explains a feature of the brand, while the “we are not” serves to curtail that feature? The second example isn’t saying anything, except for that the brand is smart. What kind of smart? Is it smart, but not know-it-alls? Smart, but not technical?

Use the “we are, we are not” exercise to help frame your brand’s voice in more narrow, easy-to-follow terms that future writers can refer to. Shoot for 15 to 20 statements to guide your writing.

Find inspiration

If you are developing a brand voice on social media, you should look to inspiration from your fellow social media marketers. There are heaps of brands that have established powerful voices on social media. Follow top brands and celebrities and look at how they make their voices come to life in social media posts, and adapt their approach to fit your brand.

Keep in mind that the brand or celebrity doesn’t necessarily have to be in your industry; inspiration from all over will help you develop a voice that’s all yours.

Map out the nitty gritty

A lot of social media writing is less about what you say, and more about how you say it. In this case, details matter, so it’s important to outline a verbal identity. Will you write in shorthand? Will you use slang? How about emojis?

Make guidelines where you lay down the law of how you will write copy. This creates consistency and saves time when you are debating whether to use “bae.”

While developing a brand voice ultimately takes time and effort, it is an invaluable tool that sets your brand apart from competitors and ingratiates it into the lives of your audience. These steps will get you started on the path to building a recognizable, consistent brand voice that will resonate on social media.

Stephanie Purinton is community management manager at social media agency Ignite Social Media.