Leading marketers agree that consistency is top of their priority list for maintaining a successful brand. Branding is not only your company logo and colours, but also your tone of voice which needs to be instantly recognisable across all the marketing channels. The days when a company simply had to construct text for a website and perhaps a company presentation have gone. Now, big brands must maintain a consistent presence on their website, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, email and a host of other communication channels.
Brand consistency is top of the marketing agenda and for good reason. Here are the latest stats:
· 89% of B2B marketers say brand awareness is their most important goal
· On average 5 to 7 brand impressions are necessary before someone will remember your brand
· Brands that are consistently presented are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience brand visibility
· The average revenue increase attributed to brand consistently is 23%.
Moondust works with brands to ensure a strategic and consistent content marketing approach. Here are our 5 steps to maintaining a consistent brand voice on social media.
#1 Outline Your Brand Voice
Let’s start by outlining your brand voice. This may seem basic, however as only 48% of big organisations actually have a content strategy, this is an essential starting point. Deciphering your brand voice is essential to understanding exactly how your brand communicates, tweets and responds to social media fans.
Here are a few exercises to begin to outline your brand voice:
Create a storyboard
This is a fun way to get your marketing team thinking about your brand voice. Storyboarding is frequently used by writers and videographers to develop a character in a story or script but it also works for thrashing out your brand voice. Think about what your brand does and doesn’t like, its end goals and its personality.
Make a social media customer service strategy
Having a proactive brand voice isn’t enough. What about when an angry fan tweets you? Or when a Facebook follower asks a question on your thread? There are two aspects here. Firstly, the funnelling of that response- eg – Will it be handled via your social media channels or forwarded to your support team? Secondly, how can you ensure that all members of your social media team maintain the same tone of voice in their responses? You need to ensure that all your interactions create a similar experience for social media fans. Remember here that your support team are not marketers. It may be helpful to create some templated responses that they can refer to when answering fans.
Reinforce Your Brand’s Beliefs
What does your company founder repeat over and over? What challenges did your company set out to resolve? It’s time to go back to the drawing board and get clear answers from your founders and directors because mixed messages are never good. So, if your founders believe the core value is trustworthiness and you’re all about being the cool and funny kid on social media, there may be a disjoin. Once you have created a list of your brand’s beliefs you can begin to communicate this out to your organisation.
Your brand voice should be memorable and consistent. Whilst you might not want to be snarky like Wendy’s below, their brand voice is exactly right for their objectives. It has also amassed them a large and loyal following.
#2 Set Specific Guidelines
Ok, so you’ve worked out the basics of your brand voice but that’s not enough. There is still a lot that is vague and left open to interpretation. It’s not about being rigid and inflexible, but it is about providing all your internal teams with clear guidelines. And that should be all your teams. Often, we see brands communicating guidelines to their sales, support and marketing teams and ignoring everyone else. Any employees who have communication with your clients should understand your brand guidelines. That includes accounts, shipping and legal.
Here are some points as you start to get specific:
· Word length
The type of words you use will depend a lot on your product and target audience. If you’re communicating the latest NASA guidelines to scientists and physicians, you won’t need to worry too much about using short words. However, if you’re a cookie company looking to build an audience of end users you will want to keep it simple.
It’s important to define how you will refer to your company on social media. For example; First person tense would be Wewhile third person tense would be Brand Name. Remember that first person is more personable whilst third person is more detached perhaps even aloof. Similarly, when you’re talking about your audience you can use second person Youor third person Clients /Suppliers/Customers. As above, second person is more engaging while third person is more distanced.
· Sentence structure
Shorter sentences do work better on social media as long sentences appear more complex and can lose audience engagement. It is also normal to use abbreviated words such as We’reand You’reinstead of We Areand You Are. When communicating your brand voice to your team, you should provide actual examples of sentence structure. For example:
Right:We’re excited to tell you about our latest book sale. Click on the link to learn more.
Wrong:At Antelope Books, our team is pleased to be able to tell our customers that we will be holding a book sale at our store on Acacia Avenue.
A good guide to ensure an appropriate sentence length is that you should be able to read it aloud in a single breath.
· Jargon & Buzzwords
Jargon and buzzwords exist in every sector and that’s ok. Sectors such as finance, law, marketing and engineering have their own specialised language which all participants understand. So, what’s the problem? Specific jargon and buzzwords can alienate fans on social media and should be used appropriately. Similarly, you should consider whether the language of social media is appropriate for your brand. Phrases like LOL, OMG, BRB, LMAO work well for some brands but not for others. Similarly, trending hashtags and emojis work perfectly for some brands like Jet Blue below but not for all:
#3 Analyse Your Customer Touchpoints
67% of consumers have used a company’s social media channel for customer service. So, now is a good time to analyse your customer touchpoints and craft appropriate responses to ensure brand consistency. Here are some customer/fan touch points:
· Viewing your proactive social media tweets and posts
· Reading your website or blog
· Messaging your support team via live chat or email
· Messaging your social media channels- eg messenger
· Watching your videos on YouTube or Vimeo
· Commenting and receiving responses on threads
· Calling your support team- yes people do still do that!
Big brands often have a large social media team managing their channels, yet they still achieve consistency in their responses. You may also see some brands getting their support staff to write their name after they interact, this ensures a personal approach and builds relationships. Check out this hilarious example from Sainsbury’s:
Here’s some questions you should ask yourself when evaluating your current social media interactions or crafting a new strategy:
Does your online presence reflect your core values?
Would you receive the same experience if you messaged the company via the website as via Twitter?
Do your interactions represent your values and brand offering?
How easily would your customers recognize your brand from your marketing materials?
A smart idea is to create a list of your touch points and provide clear guidelines with examples on how your agents can create appropriate content.
#4 Stand Out From The Crowd
One of the biggest mistakes we see is brands trying to copy their competitors. Whilst it’s good to keep an eye on their campaigns and products, it’s never a good idea to copy their style. Your brand style should be unique to you, as it’s this that will make you stand out from the crowd as a memorable brand. Make sure that the voice you develop and the responses you craft will do that. Authenticity is something your fans will spot and become attached to. Here are some ways to stand out from the crowd:
Whether you’re snarky or sophisticated, your brand should always conduct itself with class. Witty put downs and jokes will work if you’re consistent and polite about it.
Aim For Real Interaction
Real human interaction is often missing from social media platforms and fans are growing tired of canned, empty responses. If your brand can build genuine and meaningful interactions with fans, it will stand out from the crowd.
If you’re busy talking about your product while the rest of the world is talking about Halloween, then you’re not being relevant. That doesn’t mean you have to jump on every trending topic, however, your conversations should match what your fans want to discuss.
It takes time for fans to grow attached to a brand and that means you need to be consistent. Tweet every day, always respond to questions or complaints and maintain your brand voice wherever possible.
Provide Excellent Service
All the marketing sparkle in the world means nothing if you’re not serving your customers effectively. Data shows that 29% of consumers are more likely to go to a competitor if they’re ignored on social media. Take a leaf out of Peel’s book. The brand promptly answers questions on its Instagram channel meaning that product sales, even if they’re impulse buys, will be higher.
#5 Avoid Bait & Switch
Bait & Switch is an old tactic which involves luring a customer in with one technique and then switching to another once he’s snared. It’s most often associated with crooked sales practices, but it also applies to maintaining a consistent brand voice on social media. Many brands have a consistent tone of voice for attracting customers but then don’t extend the funnel to their support. In fact, recent reports found more than 66% of people have felt tricked by a brand for a sponsored article, video or other paid content.
Bait & Switch in marketing is often seen in the realms of paid content. For example, if you’re excitedly promoting your new product via Instagram, be sure to care about the customer who bought it and isn’t happy on Twitter. Your enthusiasm needs to be for all your customers, not just the ones you’re trying to reel in.
Here are some areas of your marketing funnel that may be inconsistent:
Calls to action: Your social media call to action (CTA) needs to be the same brand voice as everywhere else. Switching tones with your promotional materials can appear confusing and even insincere.
Captions: There’s something about captions (for example Instagram) that can bring out another side of your marketing team. Whilst it’s great to be creative, you should question whether your caption text really reflects who you are as a brand.
Direct messages: Often direct messages, especially complaints, are met with an inconsistent brand voice. If your brand voice is supposed to be trusted and professional, responses with relaxed text could stand out for the wrong reasons.
Bios: As your brand evolves, so too does your written communication. Many brands constructed their social media bios when their company first launched but are they still relevant? Take some time to locate and reconstruct your social media profiles and bios as they are an important first impression for your fans.
Visuals: Your brand’s voice can be detected in visual content as well as posts. Always make sure your visuals, including video, really do reflect your brand’s personality and voice.
Maintaining a consistent brand voice on social media is good news for acquisition and retention. If you’re looking to get started or perhaps to overhaul your existing brand, talk to our team.