How to Create Your Business’s Social Media Brand Voice

By Rhonda Bradley / 25 July 2018

Find out how to define your brand’s voice across social media channels in 3 steps.

Your brand’s voice is an important part of social media success, and it often determines whether your audience continues to follow your brand over time.

Many brands are so concerned with their number of followers that they overlook one of the most important pieces of data: Whether or not they’re keeping followers, or just replacing them with new ones.

According to a report by Sprout Social, there are 5 common brand personality traits that annoy people on social media. They’re all related to your brand’s voice:

  • Posting too many promotions
  • Using slang or jargon
  • Not having any personality
  • Trying to be funny when they’re not
  • Not replying to their messages

The report also found that “7 in 10 people have unfollowed a brand because they were 
embarrassed” that their friends might see embarrassing or ridiculous content.

Graph of annoying actions brands take on social media

In this article, we’ll show you how to define your brand voice in a way that connects you to your audience, instead of chasing them away.

You’ll learn how to create your brand’s social media voice in 3 steps:

  1. Define your brand’s message
  2. Create your your brand’s social media style guide
  3. Create consistent social media profile messaging

Step 1: Define Your Brand’s Message

The first step toward creating a social media brand voice begins by defining your core messaging. Here are some questions to get you started.

  • What problem do you solve and what’s unique about your brand?

For example, Planet Fitness offers an alternative fitness culture for people who want to work out without feeling judged. The gym chain offers a non-intimidating workout experience in a supportive environment.

Its motto is “The world judges. We don’t.”

The fitness club is a great example of a brand that found a unique problem to solve. The image below is one example of how it champions normal, everyday people. The Facebook post promotes one of its merchandising products - the “Dad Bod” calendar.

Planet Fitness Facebook ad

By recognizing the fact that many people avoid fitness centers because of their image-obsessed personalities, Planet Fitness found its niche by creating its “judgement-free” personality.

  • Will you approach your audience by being better than your competitors or by being more unique?

Greek yogurt brand Chobani has no gimmicks and it doesn’t try to win customers over with a flashy personality. Instead, it has always aimed to offer the highest quality yogurt on the market.

Outperforming your competitors is a winning approach if you can deliver the highest quality product on the market. 

This approach worked well for yogurt brand Chobani. Five years after their brand launched, Fortune Magazine named them one of the “25 Most Innovative Consumer And Retail Brands.” 

Chobani doesn’t try to be funny or create a memorable personality. Instead, they focus on creating the best quality product on the market.

For example, its “About” page tells the story of how founder Hamdi Ulukaya set out to create the highest quality Greek yogurt in the world.

Chobani founder image

Most brands, however, are competing in a sea of products and services. So, in most cases, you’ll need to be more unique and memorable in order to stand out.

For example, Denny’s Restaurant doesn’t claim to offer the best food. Yet, it leads the pack in a highly competitive market because it knows what makes its brand unique. Denny’s promotes a comfortable environment with a goofy sense of humor.

The image below shows a video series that Denny’s created to cultivate the type of humor its patrons connect with.

Denny's video ad

Denny’s finds its voice by zeroing in on the problems it solves for its customers. Instead of advertising the best meals, it plays up its personality and offers a break from the seriousness of daily life. 

  • What’s your stance on social causes?

Does your brand support a cause, political belief, religion, or social justice movement? Will you include this in your branding, or will you focus your efforts solely on serving your customers?

Below are some important points to keep in mind when making decisions about social causes:

  • The morals align with your target audience.
  • Your customer service is already at 5-star performance, so customers don’t feel you’re ignoring them to service a social justice cause.
  • You can live with the results for the lifetime of your business. Some causes change over time, and sometimes people’s reaction to causes can also change.

Once you put your brand behind a cause, you’ll forever be tied to it. So consider the longevity and changing political climates when defining your mission.

A 2017 survey by Meaningful Brands found that 75% of people “expect brands to make more of a contribution to our wellbeing and quality of life.” 

Causes can be a good way to build a brand voice, expand your reach, and claim your unique voice. For example, Adobe aligns itself with organizations like TedxTeen and Sundance to encourage creative growth for global artists.

Adobe image

Kentucky Fried Chicken is an example of a different way that brands can incorporate social causes. 

KFC’s main focus is on serving the customer, and much of its brand voice focuses on that mission. But, it has a stronger commitment to social responsibility than many other brands. 

Rather than weave causes into its brand voice, KFC combines environmental consciousness, animal welfare, diversity, and healthy foods into its day-to-day operations. 

It uses a page on its website titled “Responsibility” to share information about how it implements social responsibility into the business. The same page also mentions the contributions it makes to its community by supporting education.

KFC image

Before you move on to the next step, consider what role social causes might or might not play in your brand’s social media voice.

Step 2: Create Your Your Brand’s Social Media Style Guide

Now that you’ve documented your primary brand messaging and determined your social causes, you’re ready to create your brand’s style guide.

Your social media style guide will set the tone of communications for your entire team and for any freelancers writers you might hire.

Your style should be a unique representation of your brand. Consider the tone of voice that you’ll use across your social media channels. This may include traits such as:

  • Helpful
  • Empathetic
  • Humorous
  • Intellectual
  • Trendy
  • Classic
  • Peaceful

Expand on your tone by including what your brand is not. Here are few examples:

  • Humorous but not silly
  • Peaceful but not boring
  • Empathetic but not emotional
  • Positive but not fake

Other things to consider when defining your brand’s social media voice are:

  • What grammar, punctuation, spelling, and terminology will you use?
  • How will your posts be formatted?
  • How will you respond to negative posts or customer complaints?

What’s right for your brand depends on your audience and your own personality. Some brands can pull off a sense of humor, while others entertain and inform with compelling content. 

For example, WhataBurger restaurant is one of the few brands that can pull off a “sassy” personality without offending (too many) people. The example below shows its tweet poking fun at IHOP when the restaurant chain announced an upcoming name change.

Whataburger tweet

By responding to IHOP’s campaign with quick wit, Whataburger caught the attention of over 15,000 people and garnered more than 5000 retweets.

Step 3: Create Consistent Messaging

Now that you’ve defined your brand’s voice, it’s time to consider the consistency of your messaging across all of your social media channels. 

You should create consistent social media profiles across all platforms.

Even though each channel has a different personality, it’s important that you deliver a consistent profile message across the web. People should be able to recognize your company not only by its logo, but also by its personality and mission.

It’s good to switch up your profile messaging from time to time, but be sure that it’s consistent across all channels at all times.

You should know when your audience is online and publish accordingly.

Publishing content on a steady basis establishes trust that contributes to your brand’s voice.

Use the data available to you in your social media channels to find out the days and times that your audience is online. Then, use that information to schedule posts during the most popular times frames, so they’ll have a better chance of being seen.

On Facebook you can find this information by navigating to your page’s Insights and clicking on Posts. Scrolling over different times and days will show you exactly how many of your fans are on during specific times of the day.

When Facebook fans are online

Plan your social media content in advance, so you can publish on a consistent basis. Use a scheduling calendar like Buffer, Hootsuite, or CoSchedule to help you plan and automate your published social media posts.

You should acknowledge engagement and address complaints.

Ignoring people’s complaints or failing to interact with them on social media sends a strong signal about your brand’s personality. This can be a big turnoff to your audience. 

So, while you’re defining your brand messaging, you might also include guidelines on how promptly you’ll interact with your social media audience.

Don’t spam!

How often will you publish promotional posts versus helpful or entertaining posts? This is important to your brand voice because viewers connect it to your brand’s personality.

Also, knowing how often to post to social media is a key factor in how people perceive your personality. Brands who post too often are considered “spammy.” 

Learn 3 storytelling techniques to improve your social media engagement.

Share It With Your Team

Now that you’ve defined your messaging, made decisions about social causes, created a style guide, and planned consistent scheduling, you’re ready to share it with your team.

Whether you’re hiring freelancers or employing a dedicated social media staff, these guidelines will help your team to deliver a consistent brand voice that communicates well with your audience.

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