Digital Insights

How to Find a Social Media Voice for Your Small Business


Published: March 9, 2015

One of the biggest reasons why so many companies, especially small-to-medium-sized businesses, fail to make a success of social media marketing is their lack of a clearly defined and recognizable voice in communicating with their intended audience.

Active social media users seek socializing opportunities with friends and family, as well as others with whom they share common interests. While nobody creates a social media account just to engage socially with an impersonal company or brand, an estimated 33 percent of consumers use social networks to discover new brands, products, or services. People tend to like, follow, and engage with those brands that have a distinct personality and voice, share relevant and interesting ideas and information, and understand the difference between socializing and selling.

Without a recognizable and likeable personality that consumers can associate with your brand, your social media efforts are doomed to fail no matter how relevant your content or low-key your self-promotion messages.

What is a Social Media Voice?

  • A social media voice is the humanizing element of a brand that consumers can identify and feel comfortable engaging with.
  • Your social media voice helps set you apart from the competition by establishing a distinct personality and tone for your brand that will attract an active and engagement-minded audience.
  • The voice you select affects how your audience perceives your brand, and plants an image in their minds as to the type of company you represent. How well your social voice resonates with consumers determines the amount of engagement your social media efforts will generate.

How to Develop Your Social Media Voice
Creating a social voice is similar to the process of creating characters in a novel. You begin with a definition of your target audience, and build your voice around how your customers think and talk. The personality of your brand’s “character” will determine the words you use as well as the way you use them.

Perhaps the best approach is to imagine yourself sitting in front of a typical prospect. The way you would talk to that prospect – your language, tone, and mannerisms – is what you want to incorporate in your social media voice. The key takeaway here is that you want a voice that communicates to real people in the language they’re most comfortable with.

Select the voice characteristics that match your brand character and personality. Possible choices include: friendly, formal, quirky, authoritative, provocative, or informative. It’s okay to pick multiple characteristics as long as they’re consistent with your brand personality. For instance, an update that opens with “Dude – this is da bomb” would be totally out of character with a professional and authoritative personality. Your social media team will use these voice characteristics as a guideline when communicating with your audience.

Prepare a detailed written description of your voice to ensure that everyone responsible for communicating on behalf of your brand is on the same page. Include examples of real-life or even fictional characters that illustrate how you want your voice to be heard. To put it another way, who would be a better spokesperson for your brand – Larry the Cable Guy or Donald Trump?

Create a list of voice guidelines that your social team can use in creating your messages. Specify how you want sensitive issues and topics such as politics handled, and include detailed instructions on sentence structure, word choice, and tone that are consistent with your brand voice.

Develop a vocabulary list. Detail the specific language that best describes your brand that you want to include in your content, as well as any terms that you wish to avoid.