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Brands have always tried to relate to their customers with copy that speaks to them. Tone of voice has always been key in building a relationship that breeds loyalty and, in turn, revenue. 

But today, in a socially driven marketing mix, brands are quite literally speaking to their customers directly and daily. By entering the conversation on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs or forums the challenge is maintaining both proactive and, more challengingly, reactive conversations with their customers. So setting the correct tone of voice for a brand has never been more crucial. 

“If your brand were a living, breathing person, how would it sound?”

Effective communications and performance in the social space means humanising the brand itself. If the brand were a living, breathing person, how would they sound? And better still, what kind of content would they share? As a first step, establishing a well-known figure that best embodies your brand’s persona can be a step toward establishing a tone of consistency across your team in terms of tone of voice. For example, community managers can think, “would XXX say that?” before posting or planning content. 

Of course, this goes hand in hand with solid guidelines and rules of engagement. Like real human beings, a brand’s social persona should know what tone of voice is appropriate and when to use it. Solid rules best enforce that fact. How would ‘Mr X’ handle a complaint? How does ‘Mr X’ respond to praise? Like all good marketing strategies, planning is crucial, and tone of voice is no different. 

Thirdly, the community manager on the front line is the final conduit between the perceived brand and the social community. The first two factors outlined become much less effective if the individual implementing these strategies does not understand the brand itself. As such, brands will always benefit greatly from placing an individual in this role who truly embodies the persona through passion, lifestyle or as a loyal customer in their own right. Since these are the customers the brand is attempting to build relationships with, having one on your team is simply the best way to create authentic social communications. In addition, the trusted governance of this individual is key to remaining consistent, which drives trust, loyalty and ultimately revenue.

The web is filled with industry guides recommending that brands “be more social,” “join the conversation” and “build social customer relationships” almost to the point of cliché. However, as with real-world relationships, these opportunities can only be realised by communicating with individuals in a tone of voice that balances brand values with human authenticity.

John Barton is managing partner and co-founder of Testify Digital