A strong and authentic brand voice is more important now than ever in the age of social media; you want to be approachable, human, and responsive on your social accounts while still matching the overall tone and messaging of your brand. Accomplishing all of that can seem incredibly overwhelming, and there are several circumstances where building from the past can be especially helpful: taking over from someone else who built the voice for a brand (or even created it), creating and establishing the voice of a brand yourself, or wanting to build something bigger and better than your brand- or a competitor- has built in the past.
So just exactly how do you go about doing this? Let’s break it down.
Taking over a brand’s voice.
As your predecessor most likely won’t leave behind a checklist of how they went about establishing a brand’s voice and what you should do to maintain and further build it, that burden falls to you.
Depending on your resources- just you, or a team and branded documents that provide guidelines, etc- there are a few ways you can go about doing this. Obviously a good start is reading over recent posts, but sampling from accounts such as Twitter a few different times throughout the brand’s history is the best way to really learn how the voice evolved– and if and when it ever derailed. Sampling from specific campaigns will give you an idea of how a brand’s voice was meant to reach larger audiences, bring in new customers, and interact with them.
Here are some good questions to keep in mind while you work:
- Is the existing voice appropriate for our audience? This is the most important question to ask, because it should inform your entire plan.
- Is there a lot of turnover in the voice, or consistency? If there hasn’t been consistency in the past, pay attention to the interactions during more experimental times to take note of what worked and what didn’t. Use that information to build out brand voice guidelines, both for yourself and any teammates you have now or in the future.
- What about cross-platform consistency? Did tweets get automatically shared to Facebook? Or Instagram posts? Was the language the same in each place, or were messages tailored to each platform, but matching in tone? The latter is definitely what you want to aim for.
- Which formats have been most successful? Does the brand Twitter account, for example, only tweet in proper English? Has it used popular abbreviations in the past, seriously or as a joke? (And were these jokes well-received?) What about photos and videos; if those are used, do they match the tone of the tweets or did they clearly come from another team with little communication?
- How many interactions and how much sharing has there been vs. straight promotion? If the brand hasn’t been answering questions, interacting with fans and followers, and sharing useful content from other sources in the past, these are good practices to implement immediately. They make a brand friendlier, more human, more approachable.
These questions will help you establish consistency in brand voice, which makes you instantly recognizable to customers, potential customers, and fans.
Building a brand voice from scratch.
Starting from scratch is always both terrifying and liberating, and fortunately there is also the example of those who have come before- both good and bad- to lead your efforts.
The list of questions in the previous section can still apply to you; simply build guidelines of your own based on them. The most important question is still the first one: Who is my audience, where do they spend time, and how do they speak to each other and to or about brands in that space? Nothing other than listening can address this question and help you build from there. It doesn’t matter how clever and helpful the voice is that you establish if it doesn’t reach the right people or is reaching those who aren’t interested in what your brand offers.
An additional strategy involves looking at past tweets from campaigns of brands you admire or that are your competition. These can give you invaluable insight into how to build things for your own brand moving forward. Ask:
- What did well? (Or badly.)
- And for whom?
The simplest questions are often the most important ones. Address details like cross-sharing on platforms, tailoring messages, frequency of posts after you’ve established the foundation of your voice. These things are still important and still inform the overall presentation and reception of your brand.
So what’s my next step?
If you’re interested in gaining access to old tweets and Twitter campaigns, then our premium historical analytics are for you. We have ability to reach all the way back to the first public tweet posted in March 2006 – we have access to the full archive of historical Twitter data from Gnip – and we can search anything and everything you can think of. This goes beyond the scope of basic Twitter search and anything that can be pulled with Twitter’s public API; the information you can get from those sources is limited to about a week back. But the historical archive includes the full archive from Twitter itself, and you cannot get that just anywhere.
There’s more here about the specifics of how it works and you can also request a quote. Historical analytics start at $49. Pricing is based on report duration and tweet volume.
Got any more questions? Shoot us an email.
Image courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery
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