If your organization or brand could talk, it would speak in a tone of voice to reach, entertain, compel and engage your readers. It might speak in a different style to various audiences, but underlying all those communications there is – or should be – a single personality with a distinctive way of saying things.
Marketing trying to use AP style in a blog post? That’s a no-no.
Can’t figure out what to tweet because everything is always pre-written, formalized, spell-checked and approved? Make informal Tweets/Facebook updates work for you, woot!
Your company grammar police has issues with common social media abbreviations? LOL.
Imagine your audience. Think about a customer, someone who is interested in what you say about your services or products. How do you communicate with them? You probably speak naturally, openly, passionately about your products and services. Now casually develop your “pitch” in writing – create a chatty way of corresponding and communicating. As you follow the VIMM blog, you will notice that Beth, Steve, and I have very different writing styles, but we gel together as one VIMM voice.
If you’re a natural communicator you’ll find your ability to relate to readers reveals itself. If you find written communication challenging, it’s time to break barriers and find a voice you can confidently use.
Content Voice Do’s and Don’t’s
- Make online communications usable – A clear, informative voice helps people navigate your website and get the most from online communication
- Create an emotional bond with your brand – Make interacting with your company enjoyable, creating brand trust
- Stand out from the crowd – A distinctive voice makes you memorable
- Deliver exceptional service – Making your content informative and helpful can reduce customer service calls, get more from your products and enhance your customer service reputation
- Tone of voice doesn’t mean a different voice for every audience – You have one voice, choose different words to communicate to various audiences
If you still don’t get content voice, use this example. If I read an article on how to braise a chicken from Martha Stewart, I expect a formal, scholarly, exact approach. If I read Emeril Lagasse, I expect a casual approach, with recipe flexibility and punctuation – BAM!
Formal Writing Doesn’t Work Online. It sounds stilted and robotic. Don’t write in AP style or worry that something isn’t “correct”. Sometimes waiting for approval takes away the spontaneous communication expected online and your competition will beat you to the punch. Think small words or phrases and build, it simplifies your message.
1. Write with personality – pithy, punchy, humorously, one of my favorite bloggers is Bat-Girl–she created an audience for female fans of the Minnesota Twins. Her content voice and writing style found an audience. She changed her platform to Twitter, but the content voice remains the same. Warning: Sarcasm does not always translate well online.
2. Construct sentences for flow and scan – use readability statistics to keep writing at the right level for your readers.
3. Replace extra letters with apostrophes (i.e., write ‘who’s’ instead of ‘who is’, ‘don’t’ instead of ‘do not’ and so on).
4. Jazz up your punctuation and use tools to emphasize, bold or italicize.
5. Break some grammar rules – liberate your language and start a sentence with ‘and’, ‘but’ or ‘because’. When we speak, we break grammar rules, just like poets. Have FUN.
6. Finally, read the post out loud. I don’t always do this, but sometimes speaking your post helps you find your voice without even trying.
How have you constructed your content voice? Adapt your writing to your voice doesn’t mean you aren’t writing “correctly”, it means you are tailoring your writing for your audience.