Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning. – Maya Angelou
How true is this? Words are powerful, but the real influence comes from the voice carrying them. From a business perspective, this could not hit closer to home. And, from a social media angle, it hits the nail on the head.
Words need to be brought to life. In my college days, I remember a speech professor explaining the many different ways to say “I love you” and how differently each example sounded. The inflection, the pitch and the tone all played an integral role in the response and/or reaction.
Interestingly enough, the same elements apply to online marketing. The tone that you set for your brand carries the same weight that an external voice has. For instance, the voice that only pushes out links across social media has a robotic voice associated with it and is rarely heard. On the contrary, the brand voice that pushes out a variety of content with mixed media shows personality and spunk and is much more likely to resonate with users.
One of the best and most effective ways to build a strong voice online is through blogging. According to Hubspot, businesses that blog perform better on multiple levels:
- Blog frequency impacts customer acquisition. 92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog. (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing, 2012)
- The global population of blog readers keeps growing. (eMarketer, August 2010)
- 81% of marketers rated their blog as useful or better. (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing, 2012)
- There are 31% more bloggers today than there were three years ago. (eMarketer, August 2010)
- 46% of people read blogs more than once a day. (HubSpot Science of Blogging 2010)
- Most people read 5-10 blogs. (HubSpot Science of Blogging, 2010)
- Nearly 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing purposes. (eMarketer, August 2010)
In addition, blogging fuels search engines. Google loves good content and will reward those who provide it. Blogging also gives a brand personality. Similar to social media, blogs also give brands the opportunity to appear more human. There is so much you can do with a blog such as to insert multiple personalities. A blog doesn’t have to have a single author. It could have many authors encompassing all levels of the business that share the many aspects of what you do.
Another excellent way to let your voice be heard is by listening. We say this so often, but it never gets any less significant. The whole purpose behind this voice you want to build is to produce two-way communication with your audience. No one likes a one-sided conversation, right? This turns anyone off, which is why listening plays such a vital role in being heard. A brand must listen to know what their audience is saying, how to differentiate themselves among their competitors, and understand user expectations.
Look at brands and “listen” to those who are doing it right. If a corporate brand like Taco Bell or Sephora can engage with individuals, small to medium-sized businesses should be able to as well.
We also spoke recently about how listening goes hand-in-hand in tackling and combatting reputation management issues. The bottom line is in order to be an effective communicator that has any voice, listening must be in your toolbox.
Thirdly, as you establish your voice, you must be consistent. Building this voice through your website, social media and other online channels is just half the battle. It’s not a one-time initiative. It’s a continuous effort that you must not neglect. A brand can never turn on the cruise control, unfortunately. You work hard to establish a voice, but it takes work to maintain and grow it. The stronger voice you build, the more on your toes you need to be because results will be rolling in.
If you’re not consistent, you’ll lose your edge, and most importantly, your audience. When researching, I often come across sites that have not updated their blogs in months and some years. Audiences and search engines pay attention to this.
As you build your voice, set a standard. It’s okay to have some boundaries, but if you let it go, you’ll have to start from scratch. And everyone knows the comeback is always harder the second time around since competition grows and search engines get smarter.
A brand voice is a powerful tool, if used right. There are lots of messages already being told, so to be heard, you must get out there and tell yours effectively.