Getting your brand’s tone of voice right, and making it pay

I like the guide to creating an authentic tone of voice from Rosie Siman on the 360i blog, as it makes the point that consumers find it pretty intuitive to shift how they interact online depending on the online context, while brands find it not so easy shall we say:

In today’s new media landscape, consumers manage a distributed digital identity – one that changes depending on platform, audience and even interest group.

Surprisingly, shifting among these nuanced states isn’t such a feat. It feels natural, even intuitive.

But when brands attempt to do the same, the results can feel schizophrenic and confused.

How to Develop Your Brand’s Social Tone of Voice

Of course on another level part of this is part of a wider issue about how to relate and connect with your customers, which relates to listening to them and understanding what they enjoy. It’s back to that point that we are taught that we think first and feel second, which is fine until you realise how this splits the behaviour of customers from that of brands by and large:

We live in a world where we are taught from the start that we are thinking creatures that feel. The truth is, we are feeling creatures that think.

In turn online consumers “tend to ignore most information available and instead ‘slice off’ a few relevant information or behavioral cues that are often social to make intuitive decisions,” as Brian Solis puts it in ‘The 6 Pillars of Social Commerce: Understanding the psychology of engagement’.

None more so does this distinction appear online when the brand comes over as self-controlled and artificial. So loosen up and inject some real emotion – and then make sure you track the results in your metrics.

It may also help to research tone of voice using a social sentiment package like Radian6 to surface the keywords, and to have an idea of the % positive vs negative sentiment.

Who knows, getting your tone of voice right might even shift the sentiment around your brand, which in turn impacts on conversion (measure, measure, measure). It may start off as ‘just an idea’ but if you can link the tone of voice change to the metrics which connect to the bottom line then you’re onto a winner.

Of course it helps if you have a budget. When I was at Sony we used Netway to carry out MRI-based behavioural research to show the differing impact of email marketing methodologies on consumer responses. Here’s a little taster of their scientific-based approach. I also like their open-source style approach to allowing you to disseminate results too, subject to attribution:

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