How to Get Your Social Media Marketing Right (and Wrong): Voice Matters

facebook, social media

November 2, 2014 by

Using social media to market your brand is just good business – and all the good businesses are doing it. This means there are many great examples of social media done right, and lessons to be learned from the brands that are succeeding.

To see if your social media marketing efforts are hitting the mark, let’s look at a few major aspects of social strategy. This blog will be the first of three looking at smart steps (and bad moves) that businesses use on social media, and how you can learn from the best brands to improve your own strategy. Our first focus is definitely top of the list: the voice you use for your social content.

The Social Voice: Getting Your Tone Right

Social media is definitely a place where you can unbutton your collar and loosen the tie a bit. Since most social media platforms started off exclusively for people, businesses getting into the game have typically adopted a friendly, informal, funny and sometimes joking tone. It helps your business posts fit well into a newsfeed or Twitter feed filled with friends and family, and helps you avoid sounding like stuffy money-makers who are cramping your fans’ social media style. In general, it’s a good idea – if you can get it right.

Related Class: Content Marketing Strategy for Social Media

The key to finding your voice for social media content is thinking hard about your business and your branding, and then matching that feeling with a slightly more friendly tone. Your industry or field is important (financial advisor vs. pre-school, for example) in figuring out a playful or serious tone, but it’s not the only factor. Don’t just think about what your business does or sells; think about how your business feels to you, and to your customers. Let’s take, for example, the insurance industry.

A Duck, A Caveman and a Gecko Walk into a Bar…

Insurance is a relatively serious matter – just ask anyone without it when something bad happens. But we see a lot of humor and levity from many of the top companies out advertising their insurance over competitors. Brands like GEICO and AFLAC use funny characters, birds, cavemen and other gimmicks to make people laugh in their advertising, and that fits with their brand since they’re more ‘the fun friend you can count on to save you money’ then the super-serious insurance salesman.

Since that’s the branding for GEICO, it shouldn’t be surprising that the company’s social media platforms are also funny, informal and occasionally ridiculous. On Facebook, GEICO typically posts some informative, industry-relevant content, mixed heavily with jokes, fun photos, and posts that tie in with their current ridiculous TV ads.

social media

Worst Case Scenario Sales

To contrast, let’s look within the same industry but at a very different brand: Allstate. This insurance company doesn’t tell jokes or use absurd characters to advertise their services; their ads are somber, serious illustrations of, essentially, how glad you’ll be to have a reliable insurance company when you need it most. Their spokesperson is always the same, and he’s not cracking jokes or quacking.

Related Class: Brand Advocacy Strategies Using Social Media

Because this is their branding, it would be bizarre if their social media channels were jocular or frivolous, overly informal or silly. Allstate mostly posts relevant content about insurance, and then some ‘lifestyle’ type posts – topics sourced from their Good Life blog – about family, home care, tips, etc. So they’re still sharing lots of content that isn’t directly about sales, like GEICO, but the content is more in line with the feel of their brand.

social media

Getting it Wrong

There are 2 major ways to really blow it when it comes to your brand’s social media voice. The first, clear from the above examples, would be to pick a tone that doesn’t fit your brand. It will be odd for your social media fans or followers, odd for you, and could really diminish the clear brand you’ve probably worked hard to build.

The second way to get your voice wrong on social media is to be totally frivolous and silly, to a degree that users find you annoying. I know no one would accuse Old Spice of hemorrhaging high quality content to begin with, but their Facebook page is an exercise in wasted words and space:

social media

This tone does fit their brand as we see it in ads – silly, funny, and more than a little nonsensical. But inane, pointless content, and phrasing that wouldn’t pass muster at a middle-school sleepover is not going to win them any new fans, and could irritate the fans they have. Don’t go overboard trying to fit the friendly, social vibe of the platform; no one is expecting you to sound like their closest friend or teenage son. Be your brand and be it consistently, but try to wrap it all in a friendly, amiable candy-coating.

Next up in this three part series will be getting your contests and giveaways right. Social media platforms are a great medium for competitions, and the right contest can boost your engagement and your total fans rapidly. But the wrong one can, at best, be a total flop – and at worst do your brand some damage.

Want to learn more in the meantime? Check out this class from OMI: Social Media Tools to Build Your Audience. You’ll learn tips and tricks for improving your efficiency, driving more traffic from social media, and growing your base of followers.


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