A successful social media strategy can improve your visibility, your relationship with customers and, ideally, your bottom line. And an important piece of your strategy is having a distinctive, consistent voice across all social channels, from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram.

What do we mean by voice? It’s the personality behind the writing. Your voice may be friendly, reassuring, optimistic, or reliable (or a combination of those or other traits). An effective voice will bring your brand to life and help you connect with your target audience.

Creating a social media voice from scratch is a tall order. Luckily, the qualities are already there—you just need to identify them. These four tips can set you on track to finding a social media voice that’s unique, compelling, and authentic.

Start in Your Office

In the classic marketing book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini explains that likability is an important factor in influencing others. Simply put, we connect with and buy from people we like. And all brands are made up of people.

Look around your office. What makes your company culture unique? What type of people do you like to hire? For your voice to be likeable, your company must be likeable.

Remember, good brand stories are built on values. Know what you stand for.

If you don’t already have one, create a values statement. Collaborate with other departments to get buy-in. Document it, share it, and revisit it often. Banking software company PrecisionLender displays their values on a wall in their office:

precisionlender

If you try to create a social media voice without defining your values first, it will lack depth and authenticity.

Know Who You’re Talking To

Social media isn’t bullhorn marketing, it’s a personal conversation. And before you engage, you need to know who you’re talking to.

Knowing your audience is critical to your content strategy in general, but it’s especially important as you form your social media voice.

Interacting through social media requires confidence. It’s easy enough to tweak the headline on your homepage if it’s not resonating with your audience; it’s harder to “take back” a Facebook post if it falls flat or, worse, offends.

You want to use the words your customers use (including hashtags!) and care about the things they care about—not because you’re mimicking them, but because you want nothing more than to improve their lives.

To know your customers better:

Review their emails to your company—what are their questions, complaints, kudos?

• Hold a small focus group

• Hang out in their social media circles; study the content they post, share, and comment on

• Ask them to fill out a quick survey on your site

Don’t Obsess Over Style

In an interview with the online marketing agency Distilled, a writer at a UK-based natural beverage company said their social media approach is a simple one.

“To be honest, we don’t think that much about storytelling … We write the way we speak, and we speak to everyone the same way we speak to our friends.”

This is seen on the brand’s Facebook page, where they engage their customers through honest, helpful, and occasionally silly posts.

innocent

This isn’t to say you should speak to your audience like you would a friend—that depends on your audience and your company. Nor is it to say you should always try to be funny (in fact, tread carefully here—humor is tough to get right).

What it does mean is that your social media interactions should naturally bubble up from your values. They should be fueled by your desire to build relationships, to help your audience. Add this to a voice that’s conversational and concise, and you’ll stand out among your competitors.

Create a Persona

You’re probably familiar with personas. These composite characters help marketers visualize a certain type of customer. It’s easier to design an app or write copy when you’re doing it for Julia, a 38-year-old mother of two living in Cedar Falls, Iowa, who drives a Toyota Sienna and always buys her groceries from ALDI.

You can do the same for your social media strategy. Who is the person behind your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts? Some questions to ask yourself include:

• How old is this person?

• What’s his education level?

• What kind of books does he read? What music and TV shows does he like?

• Is he cool or a little geeky?

• At dinner parties, what does he like to talk about?

If you need help visualizing your social media persona, try this exercise, suggested by Distilled: “If you could have any celebrity as a spokesperson for your company, who would it be and why?

From William Shatner to Michelle Obama, this opens up a world of possibilities. You can even print out a picture of your celebrity and post it on your wall as a reminder of your social voice.

At Ren Scott Creative Marketing, we know social. Contact us today to learn how we can help you shape your social media voice.