Finding the right tone can be critical in engaging your customers. However, it’s also one of the most tricky things to do well.
This is partly because tone is so subjective. It will be interpreted differently by different people. Tone can also be hard to judge in one-way communication, like online marketing, as you don’t have the real-time feedback of expressions, body language, or tone of replies that you would get from a proper conversation.
There are some general rules of thumb that you can follow when developing the online tone of your business, however.
- Always make sure you are polite. Regardless of how formal or informal your tone is, make sure you are always courteous. It can be a huge mistake to be otherwise. If appropriate to your brand, casual or slang language is OK, but always avoid obscenities.
- Take the opportunity to review. Unlike real-time communication, written forms of engagement give you a golden opportunity to revise and correct – make sure you always take advantage of this! Check for spelling and grammatical errors and make sure you’re happy with your message before you post or send it.
- Make sure your online tone is consistent with the culture of your business. If your brand is fun, youthful and vibrant, your tone needs to match this. Likewise if you’re positioning yourself as a highly professional expert, your writing should communicate this. If your tone doesn’t match your brand culture, you won’t be appealing to people who are a good match, either.
- Keep it simple and straightforward. The level that your writing is pitched at will vary depending on your target audience. Regardless of audience, it’s important that your meaning is always clear. Read through to see if you could reduce sentence length, remove or explain technical jargon, or choose a better phrasing.
- Think carefully when responding to negative feedback. An angry or upset tone will certainly work against you when publishing online!
Once you’ve established a tone for your brand, make sure you have guidelines in place to ensure consistency. This will allow any number of people – e.g. multiple staff members – to post for your brand without compromising your tone.
Check back to discover the next of the three ‘T’s of customer engagement – timing.