How to Develop a Winning Social Media Tone of Voice Guide for Your B2B Brand

Image of colorful sticky notes that can be used in developing a social media tone of voice guide

Oftentimes, B2B brands underestimate the importance of having a well-developed social media tone of voice. Social media might seem “too casual” for a B2B brand and thus not a worthwhile investment. But at the end of the day, we’re still marketing to people, and what better way to connect with people organically than through social media?  

Eighty-three percent of B2B marketers turn to social media as a business solution, using it to generate leads, research other brands and deliver customer service. If that is not convincing enough, eighty-four percent of C-level and VP-level buyers are influenced by social media when making purchasing decisions.  

It’s never too late to establish your brand’s presence on social media. Starting with a social media tone of voice guide will help your brand find the right balance between authentically engaging with real people and presenting your brand professionally. Once you have your brand’s tone  of  voice guide, planning your social media strategy will be a breeze. 

WHAT IS A SOCIAL MEDIA TONE OF VOICE GUIDE? 

Social media tone of voice refers to the persona of your social media accounts. It’s the way you embody your brand to your audience—visually and verbally—which affects how people perceive your company. Your company’s history, mission and values should all be reflected in your social media tone of voice. 

A social media tone of voice guide should be tailored to your target audiences, helping customers to connect with you on an emotional level. If done right, it gives your audience a feeling about your brand that lasts longer than the actual message you’re putting out there. 

HOW TO DEVELOP A SOCIAL MEDIA TONE OF VOICE GUIDE 

Start by compiling all your brand guidelines for reference during this process. Your social media tone of voice should tie back to your overall brand, acting as an extension of the brand across channels. 

There are several exercises you can use to help define your brand’s tone of voice. Here are a few of our favorites: 

  1. Brainstorm adjectives. Have your team submit a list of adjectives that represent your brand and culture. Review the list and brainstorm additional adjectives until you can agree on three or four that are truly representative of your brand’s voice. You can even put these on a scale with your chosen adjectives on one end and their opposites on the other end. Understand that your brand’s tone may shift along the scale based on the social moment. 
  2. This, not that. This method helps you to define your brand tone, what sets you apart and what you don’t want to sound like. Providing these examples also helps to clarify how your unique voice is applied when creating content. 
  3. Celebrity alignment. Celebrity alignment is a good way to give your brand an identifiable voice. Think about what you want your brand to sound like and identify a celebrity with those qualities. For example, if you choose a comedian, you may want to sound less formal and more light-hearted. If you choose a more serious actor, you may want to portray a more professional tone. 
  4. Personification. What would your brand sound like if it were an actual person? What does a day in their life look like? What do they do for work and eat for breakfast? Personifying your brand helps to give it a more personal, human feel. 

BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER 

Include examples for your team so they can better understand how to apply the guidelines and use them for future reference. 

Take Hootsuite, for example. Though easily accessible to consumers, Hootsuite frequently markets its services to other businesses that have, or desire to have, a social media presence. Hootsuite’s new social media branding and tone of voice align to convince businesses and customers that they are at the forefront of social innovation.  

Source: Hootsuite and Ninja Marketing
Source: Hootsuite and Ninja Marketing
Source: Hootsuite and Ninja Marketing

Using internal expertise from several teams, customer feedback and stakeholder input, Hootsuite was able to develop an extremely thorough tone of voice guide. In addition to their casual copywriting approach, their font choices, colors and new photography style encapsulate their identity as a social-first brand. 

Next, identify and prioritize your top social media channels. What role does each of these channels play in your customers’ journey? For example, you may use LinkedIn to communicate business updates, products and industry news in a professional manner while taking a more behind-the-scenes, friendly approach on Facebook. 

Think about how you want your brand to look on social media, and include a condensed style guide with examples of what you want social media posts to look like. 

Source: Hootsuite and Ninja Marketing

Finally, incorporate hashtag usage and community management into your guide. Identify branded and nonbranded hashtags that make sense for your company. Decide how your brand will interact within relevant social media communities. 

START YOUR TONE OF VOICE GUIDE WITH YOUR PEOPLE

The best way to synthesize your brand’s visual identity into a social media tone of voice guide is to actively collaborate with a holistic team. Hootsuite, for example, consulted their own creatives, developers and key stakeholders when developing their new visual guidelines. By immersing different teams in the guideline development process, you not only get an accurate representation of your brand but you also have an organization that fully understand and can implement the new visual guidelines.

Having a full grasp and being able to master your brand’s tone of voice guide on social media will ease the content planning and production process. But sometimes, you might still hit a wall when it comes to writing for social media. Check out “Ways to Spice Up Your ‘Boring’ Business Content” for quick tips on how to make B2B content more exciting.