Your organization is making an impression on social media – and that impression is directly affecting your brand. So how are you doing? Is your Twitter feed speaking a different language with your website? Does your Facebook presence sound like it’s been hacked?
Your brand is not created – it’s cultivated. And that cultivation happens at a micro-level with your social media updates. The voice you write in, the words you choose and the content you share all build an impression. Extending your existing brand into social media is a matter of understanding your brand and using the right writing approach.
Know Thyself – Archetypal Branding and Writing
Since social media is a conversation, you need to develop a clear picture of what your brand stands for. What is the impression that you want your potential customers to have of your brand?
It can be helpful to come up with an archetypal personality to fuel your social media writing. Archetype branding helps organizations clarify their values and approach with a well defined persona. There are a lot of resources on common brand archetypes, so we won’t go into the specifics here – but knowing your brand’s persona on this level can help make social media writing a whole lot more focused and congruent with your brand.
For example, think about the difference in approach between an “everyperson” archetype company like Gap and a “lover” archetype company like Victoria’s Secret. Or the “maverick” approach by Carl’s Junior compared to the “traditionalist” approach from Wendy’s. They have different archetypes, which create a different approach and vastly different social media writing styles.
Expressing Your Brand Through Writing
Finding an archetype and defining your voice feeds directly into successful social media writing. With an archetype in mind, you can begin to think of your brand as a persona. If you were to have a conversation with your company as a person, what would it say, and more importantly, how would it say it? Is it straightforward and smart? Casual and playful? Sarcastic and a bit rude? All of these brand voices require a different approach to social media writing.
The voice of your social media writing is what helps you stand out from the pack. You can essentially be saying the same things as your competition – but with your word choice, tone and overall approach to social media writing you’re saying them in a unique way.
Let’s see how this works in the real world with a few familiar companies.
Pair #1 – Everyperson vs. Lover
Knowing the difference between Gap and Victoria’s Secret is as simple as watching their commercials – and their social media writing shows the differences as well. Here’s how they involve fans and promote products.
Gap uses full words – not “text speak” – and speaks directly to the fan about their outfit. Their language is more traditional, descriptive and friendly. Their product promotion calls out to a popular radio hit (“Brighter Than the Sun” by Colbie Calliat) – perfectly connecting with the “everyperson”.
Victoria’s Secret is all about love, fun and girliness. Their fan “shout out” (note the use of that word) not only promotes their teeny bikini (linking to their sexy image), but also their fan. The product promotion directly uses the word “love” which is not uncommon on VS’s account. They are bright, happy announcements that read like they are coming directly from a fashionista sorority girl.
Pair #2 – Maverick vs. Traditionalist
Carl’s Jr. and Wendy’s sell basically the same thing – but their approach to burgers and fries takes a much different tone, which is translated into their social media writing styles.
Carl’s Jr. uses lots of “text speak” which reflects their maverick persona. They use trendy terms – like “tweeps” and “swag” to connect with their audience. Their giveaway ties into a movie that is likely going to be popular with their young, male audience.
Wendy’s is the old standby that has been around for generations. They call out to their most popular products with a short, catchy (and properly spelled) update. Their contest update is bright, mostly grammatically correct and ties into a charity.
How to Make This Work For Your Brand
Take a look at your last several weeks, or months, of social media updates. Are you getting your brand across? Is your language staying consistent? If not, it’s time to define your voice and refine your writing.
In our intake interview with new clients, we go over their company persona and words to use, or not to use, in their marketing materials and blog posts. The questions about words serve two purposes – we’re looking for keywords for optimizing content, but we’re also trying to find a voice. How would Company X share good news on Twitter? How would they invite followers to a contest on Facebook (or would they even run a contest to begin with)?
We turn these questions into a cheat sheet for all of our writing, and you can do the same.
Your cheat sheet should include:
- A description of your brand’s archetype. – Each archetype has a goal and a mode of operation. Understanding this can help you select the right words, and even the right curated content.
- A list of common words, terms and phrases – This list will grow with time, but creating it at the start will help you craft brand-infused social media updates. What terms, phrases and words fit with your brand? Do you use text speak? Do you have nicknames for your followers? Or are you more traditional and grammatically correct?
- A list of words, terms and phrases to avoid – Wendy’s doesn’t have swag or bros. Victoria’s Secret doesn’t suggest something – they love it and know their followers will too. Creating this list will help avoid that branding disconnect that sometimes happens between a company’s page and their social media account.
Social media is a conversation, and the voice you cultivate with your writing creates a definite impression about your brand. Explore the archetypes and create a cheat sheet for terms. You’ll create a stronger brand and make word choices and writing a lot easier for everyone involved.