We talk about ‘tone of voice’ in writing, meaning the way in which you pitch your messages, the language that you use and the ways in which you express things. You can take a conversational tone of voice, an authoritarian one, a questioning one or a challenging one. We flex our tone to suit circumstances, especially the audience and the reaction that audience is having to what we are saying.
Whilst in conversations this tends to be a fluid affair, it’s important to make it a conscious one when dealing with social media, especially in a formal, business context. Our tone of voice reflects who we are and what we stand for. Whilst it’s still fine to flex it, it does need to be congruent with our core values.
The language that i use when mentoring people around social media is that they need to create a scaffolding, a framework around which all of their activity hangs. It doesn’t matter if you are a musician, trying to break into the mainstream, or a mainstream business that is trying to be creative, everything you do needs to have a consistency with your core values and be expressed in your appropriate tone of voice.
A typical mistake that people make is to ‘rehash’ or retweet inappropriate content. I don’t mean inappropriate in the obvious sense, but rather incongruent with their core purpose. There’s nothing wrong with sending out pictures of girls in bikinis if you run a swimwear business, but it’s not going to fly if you work in finance. Whilst social media give us an inherently informal space, our own behaviour and tone of voice needs to be appropriate to our core values: if you are that musician, then you can give yourself quite wide flexibility, but there should still be a link back to your core messaging, whatever that is. It might be to promote your music, it may be to get creative feedback on your music, it may be to broadcast your love of music. Whatever it is, you still need a cohesive message.
Or at least you do if you are using social media for a specific purpose. If you’re just on there to arrange pub visits with friends, then you can get away without having a strategy!
This is the core challenge of social spaces: by attempting to subsume them to organisational or professional purposes we are, by necessity, putting formal messages out into a chaotic space. Clarity is essential if we want our voice to work for us, to be heard.