Five ways to convey your tone of voice through digital

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In a modern age where words are shared globally in mere seconds, six out of 10 Australians now actively use Facebook for work and pleasure and one in five love a good scroll through Instagram. So, it should come as no surprise that the way we communicate continues to evolve rapidly.  

With this instant nature of contact has come exponential growth in a consumer’s expectations of an organisation’s commitment to their individual needs. This means it has never been so important to establish your tone of voice.

And no, we’re not talking about perfecting the pitch of your vocal cords in front of the mirror each morning. We’re referring to how you strategically and consistently project yourself to your target online.

If we think about the language used in professional communications in the past, people have typically communicated in what is often labelled as a corporate manner. Often resulting in a stiff and generic tone. Without the ability to have instant one-on-one engagement (that the digital realm now offers) the words of businesses often felt like they were spoken AT consumers, rather than conversing with them.

We’re now seeing organisations move away from the one to many model, to a manner of communicating which speaks directly to consumers and gives them the ability to respond in real time. Never before have we been able to achieve the level of engagement that we now can with social media.

So how do you effectively develop a tone of voice that will appeal to your target audience?  

Below is a five-step process to achieve an effective and consistent tone for your organisation.

Get to the heart of your audience
It is surprising the large number of businesses that don’t know or understand their audience. Articulating who these people are and why they want to do business with you is critical. Narrow it down. Find out as much as you can. What motivates them? What scares them? What influences them? Listen to how they speak to each other and start to learn their unique language. Chances are they have certain jargon or catch phrases that if you choose to use, will bring your brand closer to them. 

Know your brand values
When was the last time you really thought about what your brand stands for? Can you refine these traits into a series of five or six words that truly captures the heart and soul of the organisation? Spend time doing this and you will start getting to know your brand more intimately, allowing you to really build your brand story and refine your tone.

Explore styles
Once you’ve defined the personality of your organisation and who you’re trying to reach, find a style that bridges the gap. Are you happy and cheery, or perhaps more corporate but relatable? Play around with this. Workshop it. Whatever you come up with, understand its strengths and limitations. And give yourself a vocabulary that means you are authentic and consistent.

Create specific content
Once you are confident with your tone of voice ensure your content reflects it across all your digital platforms in both your text and imagery/video. The key word is consistency. Your tone of voice needs to remain consistent whenever you’re communicating with your consumers. You need to sound like the same old friend that your customers have learnt to love and respect.

Have a crisis plan in place
In a perfect world, you’ll be able to carry your specific tone of voice across all content and communication platforms. But as we know, this doesn’t always occur. If a crisis arises it is vital to know what kind of language and tone you will use to ensure you’re still on brand, but people know you’re tackling the situation. Like people, a brand is sometimes happy and sometimes serious, but this doesn’t mean your communication ever has to be stagnant.

Put together a thorough list of FAQs so you can begin to practice your specific tone for a crisis. Think about what kind of conversations you can expect to have, and put together what kind of answers you can provide. Having this strategy in place early will save time and issues down the line.

Written by Ellie Swift.