Do you write g’day on your Facebook brand page or ‘good morning all’?
Do you sign your posts ‘cheers’ or begin with ‘hey guys’?
Do you tweet using kisses (xxx) or write #reallylonghashtagsthatarehardtoread?
The language we bash out from our keyboards intrigues me – especially when it extends to the world of social media.
It’s worth thinking about the language you use because it can support or damage your brand. If you have time (and depending on what type of business you are), you might even write voice branding guidelines.
A lot of corporations and government bodies have branding guidelines. You may have seen some yourself.
It’s usually a document (sometimes a huge volume) dictating how to use the official logo, what the corporate colours are, and sometimes what the official fonts are. They’re like a bible for graphic designers, web designers, advertising agencies and others to enable them to carefully manage your visual brand appearance across different communications collateral.
The best branding guidelines – the ones where an organisation has really taken care to consider how it communicates – also allude to the brand’s style in terms of language. Sometimes a ‘brand persona’ has been identified. There may even be a separate Style Guide.
When I started working at the SA Tourism Commission in 2006, we had an uber style guide that outlined language use for brochures, websites, news releases and more. It laid out how the SATC referred to towns, regions, Aboriginal heritage, titles (as in Mrs, Minister, the Honourable) and so on.
Of course, a lot of organisations (maybe yours included) have not been able to devote any resources to a tone and style guide.
Which is a pity, because if you do have some, it can help you find your social media voice. And it’s especially handy when you have several people posting online on behalf of your organisation.
This means when you hit the keyboard, you’ll know how to phrase things. It makes posting to Facebook, Twitter and so on, much easier.
Need examples? Here are some simple questions I ask clients to consider, to illustrate how very different you might sound on social media …
What would you lean towards saying:
- “Thank you” or “cheers”
- “You’re wonderful” or “you rock!”
- “Good morning everyone” or “hey guys”
- “We are pleased to announce our latest report findings are available for download and look forward to your feedback” or “Amaaaazeballs! Our super-duper new download is OUT, bitches!”
- Do you use emoticons? And if so, which ones?
- Do you LOL, ROFL, LULZ or TGIF?
- Are you allowed to use a heap of exclamation marks or question marks at once??? Can you use gr8 text speak?
Aside from these language considerations, you might want to also reflect on whether you’re affectionate / corporate / excitable / calm / professional / supportive and so on.
There’s another interesting aspect to throw into the mix:
Is your social media voice, different to your ‘usual brand voice’?
This is an important question, because social media is quite a different to some other communication spaces. What works in the boardroom or in a news release may not work on Tumblr or YouTube.
But how far do you bend your ‘social media voice’ to maintain warm connections with people online (and also appear attractive and easy-to-read on screen) before you split your brand personality?