It seems that every brand who have activated a social media strategy nearly all sound the same. They sound like a young, pleasant hipster. Like a kid who has just finished college and is in an interview. Weird that because if you look at the majority of people who are community managing brands they are hipster kids, just out of college, trying to make their way in their first job in an agency. It cracks me up when I see a post from a car manufacturer that begins “Hey guys…” . Come on, is that really the personification of your brand? It is just lazy.
The start point to finding your voice is to determine what the brands personality is. Your brands channels are after all, the personification of your brand. This is the point where your brand manager should lead, rather than the head of PR. Someone in PR has been trained to polish a brand and shine it to the highest degree then present only that front. Brand managers understand that there is a layer of complexity and depth to the brand and are better equipped in general to explore the brand. The more honest your communication is, the more relevant it is to your audience, the more people will actively engage with your brand. If you do a bland PR voice, you will get bland engagement in return.
In my experience the best way to start is to imagine that your brand has manifested itself into an actual person. What does that person look like? Whats their name? What do they like to do? What programmes do they watch on TV? What music do they like? What car do they drive? Political views? Build up a character. Note it all down and refer back to this character constantly. It’s a process that actors use and it helps bring a depth to the personality. The more precise your back story, the more you will get out of it. Remember, you are not creating your target audience, but instead you are creating the person your target audience will engage with.
Investigate this person you have created. Look at how this person would react to the world around him or her. What would they find interesting in the news and what would they say about it. Build out this persona for anyone communicating on behalf of the brand and dictate the style to your community manger/s. This means that there will be a consistency to the communications, even if you change managers a few times or have multiple contributors.
Now, you need to map out how the different parts of your business communicate through this personality prism. Work with the Head of Marketing, the Head of PR, the Head of Customer Service and other interested parties and figure out what the personality sounds like when dealing with each of those sectors. This will mean that you can create interesting and relevant communications for them rather than having it sound like a press release or a complaint resolution. It now sounds genuine. It gives a point of differentiation to the followers, it gives them information in a way that feels more human and conversational. I have found that this inclusive approach within brands prevents arguments further down the line. Keep the relevant people involved and get agreement on your approach.
Ok I have my voice, I have cleared my throat……now what? Get talking. Join in conversations, join in trending topics and arguments. Be controversial, be funny, inform, entertain . Do it all, just be true to your personality plan and be relevant to the audience in hand.
Don’t try to be liked unless that is inherent to your brand personality. The people you like and know in real life are rarely the people that plead to be liked at every stage. Be interesting. Be the personality your target audience will actively want to connect with.
I recommend quarterly reviews of the brand personality. Go back over the communications, look how to improve them. How does the personality grow? Personalities in real life are never static. There is a consistency but they also tend to grow in certain ways, let the brand personality have a bit of growth and movement.
My mother always told me, “personality is more important than looks”. Turns out she was right.