5 Tips For Developing an Authentic Brand Voice on Social Media

There’s no doubt that social media is essential to connecting with potential customers and educating them about your brand. With one-third of the world regularly using social media sites, it’s no surprise that 90 percent of all marketers shared that their social media presence has boosted awareness for their business.

But, despite what the old saying suggests, there is such a thing as bad publicity, especially in the online marketing space. Social media can be harmful to your brand’s reputation if you don’t use it correctly. A Sprout Social report found that if your audience is irritated by your brand’s behavior on social media, 51 percent will unfollow you and nearly a quarter will boycott your brand. Lost followers means less ability to educate and offer free value to potential customers.

Still, most social media audiences want to see a brand’s personality shine through. This is especially true of younger generations. More than 50 percent of Millennials prefer brands that have personality on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, and that number jumps to 79 percent on Facebook. The key is to accurately convey your brand voice on social media without losing professionalism or annoying your followers.

Your social media branding can have a big impact on how much value you’re able to deliver to your audience. Make sure you get it right by using these tips to cultivate your brand’s voice on social media in a way that gets at the heart of your values and connects your brand with the right people.

1. Know Your Brand Values

You can’t just assign your brand a random personality in the hopes that it comes across as trendy or cool on social media. Your followers will be able to tell if your brand’s voice doesn’t match its values, which is a big misstep among consumers who place a high value on authenticity—91 percent of customers want brands to be authentic in social media posts, according to Bonfire Marketing.

You can’t be authentic if you don’t know what your brand stands for. Get clear on your brand values, including details like your company mission, your vision, your brand promise, and the causes you support. Once you know your brand’s values, you can get to work crafting your brand’s voice.

2. Develop a Unified Brand Voice

An organization’s social media accounts are often managed by multiple people, which can make it difficult to present a unified brand voice. If you want your brand to be authentic across the board, you need to give your employees guidance to help them find a tone that meets your brand’s standards and reflects its personality.

One thing is clear: consistency and authenticity are top priorities in maintaining a professional social media presence.

Identifying words or phrases that match your brand values is a good place to start. These words won’t necessarily show up in every piece of copy you write, but they can help your employees get a feel for the personality you want your brand to convey in social media posts. For example, some words that might describe your brand voice are playful, friendly, approachable, down to earth, or direct.

When you have social media managers who are in tune with your brand’s voice, they can rely less on copy-and-paste scripts and feel free to have genuine interactions with your customers and other key audiences. Considering that 83 percent of consumers approve of brands responding to customers via social media, this is a key skill for any employees who will be representing your brand on social sites.

3. Create a Style Guide

Your guidance will help employees get your brand voice right, and a style guide will help them maintain consistency in areas of style and grammar. Your brand’s reputation and professionalism hinges on presenting the same image across all platforms. Forty-five percent of a brand’s image is based on what it says and how it says it. A style guide will help you get it right.

Consistency is important everywhere your brand copy appears, but discrepancies will be especially easy to spot on social media. Keep everyone on the same page by choosing a basic style guide (like AP) and giving examples of what your brand’s voice does and doesn’t sound like.

This is also the place to set hard boundaries around controversial topics you might not want to associate with your brand. Will you comment on politics or breaking news stories? Will you joke about competitors? Are slang words a no-go? The way you handle these issues can make or break your brand perception on social media, so it’s important to address them in your style guide.

4. Target Specific Personas

Your brand probably already uses personas to connect the right resources with the right people. These profiles are fictional, but they should be based on real research that reveals who your potential customers are and how you can help them. You’d never create a new product, or even a blog post, without targeting a specific persona. They’re the tool that allows you to bring the best value to the most people.

The same logic extends to social media. Different demographics spend time on different platforms and get value from different types of posts: Twitter has more urban than rural users. Seventy-one percent of Pinterest users are women. The majority of Snapchat users are under the age of 25.

This knowledge of where your personas are spending time online can inform what types of posts you share on which platforms and at which times. Though all your social media posts will be in line with your brand’s style guide, targeting every post to a specific persona will make your social media presence that much more effective.

5. Create Post Categories

Now that you’ve got the basics of social media branding, you can deliver even more value by creating specific post categories your brand will share on social media. Use your persona research in combination with your digital marketing strategy to create the combination of posts that best serve your followers.

For example, you might want to invest time creating infographics or other value-driven visuals to take advantage of the fact that visual content is more than 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content. Maybe you’ve noticed that your followers interact well with behind-the-scenes videos, or maybe you want to let your audience feel heard by asking them to respond to a question.

These post categories don’t have to be a strict formula you follow. Having a list of basic post structures can help your employees create social media content that appeals to your personas while maintaining a consistent, professional style.

Own Your Social Media Branding

Your brand voice on social media is a key factor in making sure your valuable content connects with the people who need it most. One thing is clear: consistency and authenticity are top priorities in maintaining a professional social media presence. Learn more about how to make brand authenticity more than just a buzzword by taking it to the heart of your brand.