Mark Stephenson, the MD of Sandstorm Kenya – the World Renowned Luxury Bag Maker, sent me a DM on Tuesday the other week and it read “Tone of Channel – lets discuss.” So that Wednesday morning, I swung by his office and we had a long chat about Tone of Channel. Having been in Advertising for over 20 years in the UK before making his way to Kenya to Head Sandstorm Kenya, Mark is incredibly adept at marketing and advertising matters. He let me in on a few open secrets – one being Tone of Voice as a marketing concept.
Have you ever heard the phrase “it’s not what you say but rather how you say it”? That is what summarily defines Tone of Voice. Basically, it refers to determining a communication tone that is not only appropriate for the brand and it’s positioning in the market but also for the shareholders it represents and the consumers it is trying to reach. Important to most businesses has been consistency of the tone of voice they have adopted. According to Rob Mitchell in this Brand Channel Article, “when tone of voice is consistent it allows the consumer another means of recognizing the brand and being reassured of expectations.” This consistency in the tone of voice adopted by companies is not only limited to official documents but extends to almost every other facet of the organization – including marketing promotions and advertising – it’s a critical a facet of brand behaviour.
However, the advent of social media has presented an altogether different ball game and hence the reason Mark mentioned Tone of Channel to me.
Brands by and large adopted a tone of voice that remained consistent across various platforms – be it the company website, brochures, official documents, adverts etc. However, tone of channel means moderating this tone of voice in order to balance the message a company wants to send with the platform they are using to send it, and the consumers of the message. Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, official Websites, Press Releases, Review Sites are all different channels where company messages can be pushed towards or pulled by consumers who (depending on the channel) will have varying degrees of affiliation with the brand. Unlike previous models where companies adopted a particular tone through ‘push’ media like television, and press, social media channels are different as much in the frequency and variety of the message as well of course the potential for interaction, and if you are to effectively and consistently connect with your consumers the tone adopted for each of these needs to be thought through on a channel by channel basis.
There are many social media networks out there and the choice of which network a brand uses is always important. Listening tools will help you determine where people are talking about you. But more important is how you plan to become part of these conversations hence tone of channel. So beyond just knowing where your consumers are talking about you, keen listening should enable you to comprehend the inner workings of these channels therefore helping you in developing your tone to suit a given channel. Otherwise, you stand the risk of being disruptive h your one fits all tone and people in the various channels will not appreciate it. So keen listening that will help you identify both the channels the people are talking about you and the tone of channel is imperative. Monitoring feedback to your engagements in these channels will show you whether the tone is right or not.
Now that you know the different social media channels lend themselves to different tones, you have to ensure you craft your message to suit each channel.