Setting the Tone: Developing a Consistent Social Networking Voice

You might have noticed that a big part of social network marketing is letting customers and colleagues get to know you. It doesn’t matter whether the relationship is with you personally, or just their impression of your company – either way, you want them to feel like they’re getting a sense of what you’re all about.

Developing a consistent tone and voice is an important part of that.

Over time, as people read your blogs, see your profile updates, and receive messages from you, they should begin to know what to expect. The reason this is important is because readers and listeners want to know who you are to them. Just as fans will often desert a band or novelist who suddenly switches genres, your customers and followers might give up on you if your mood changes from week to week.

Here are a few popular social networking “faces” you or your company might put on. Trying one doesn’t stop you from using another – most of us are a combination of these – but set a tone early on and keep things consistent:

The expert. If your strength is a wealth of experience in your industry, or a set of skills that few other people possess, make sure this comes through in the way you communicate on social networking sites. There’s a lot of value in being seen as an expert – including greater exposure and bigger fees for your services – so take advantage of this one if you can.

Informative. While some people might consider an informative persona the same as being an expert, they’re actually slightly different. Companies and self-employed professionals looking to build informative profiles can draw a lot of traffic from simple explanations of complex issues – even if they aren’t the foremost authorities in their fields. The point here is to aim for clarity, not necessarily giving answers that can’t be disputed.

Controversial. Creating arguments online is an easy way to generate traffic and feedback, not to mention attention. Of course, it’s easy to take this tactic too far and end up alienating your audience, but if you have the kind of personality that likes to draw controversy, play to your strengths and use that to build a strong social networking platform.

Fun. Taking a traditionally derived subject, like insurance or finance, for example, and making it colorful is a good way to attract industry professionals as well as outside readers. Putting a lot of fun and humor into your social networking communications is definitely a winning tactic… as long as it doesn’t stop potential customers from taking you seriously.

Two things to avoid… Because social networking is typically as much about friendships, or at least friendly business relationships, as it is getting work done, there are two “deadly sins” that every marketer should avoid. The first is to be boring. Really, that rule could extend to any marketing or advertising communication, but online it’s especially damaging. Your readers are never more than a mouse click away from something interesting, so keep that in mind as you compete for their attention.

The second big error is to come off as being overly-commercial. Yes, people are going to realize that your company blog or profile is there to help you sell; but that doesn’t mean you have to do it in the same way you would with a sales letter. Let your audience get to know you, and maybe even enjoy themselves a little bit, and you can embed far more powerful marketing messages than you could by using straight-line sales pitch.

One final note. The larger your company – or your social networking effort – the more likely it is that you’ll have several people, internal and external, involved in putting your plan into action. With that in mind, it’s important that every one of them understand what sort of voice you’re trying to achieve, and can hit it consistently. The last thing you want is a set of profiles and messages that read like they were composed by a dozen different people… even if they were.