Are you calling the cat for dinner or telling off the dog that’s chasing it? Are you whispering sweet nothings to a loved one, soothing an unhappy child, or delivering a verbal report to your boss on the progress of your company’s most important contract?
In each case, your tone of voice will be different. (At least, I sincerely hope it will be.) Tone of voice is just as important on the Internet, and the tone you adopt should reflect what type of organisation you are – but it should also reflect, at least to some extent, the personality of the person who’s sending out your tweets or updating Facebook for you..
Do undertakers habitually use Twitter? I don’t know, but I’d be surprised if I saw this:
Y u no buy coffin now? Don’t be a total n00b – score mega coffin deals 2day at @weboxyou
Equally, if I was following a hip, cutting-edge fashion store, I’d be surprised if they tweeted this:
For a limited period, enjoy substantial discounts on foundation garments at @garmentemporium
In each case, the tone of the tweet jars with the tone that suits the business – unless, I suppose, the fashion store is going for a steampunk vibe.
When your organisation decides to use social media, you need to use it in a way that is consistent with the image – or, if you want to be fancy, the “brand values” – that you are trying to project.
In addition, your social media use should also reflect the personality of the person or people tweeting for you. Your users will quickly get sick of an unbroken stream of purely factual tweets – equally, should you take the “personality” thing too far, your users may tire of hearing only about what you had to drink last night and how much you’re looking forward to the new Ke$ha album.
The key is to find a balance that works for your organisation. If you find that you are picking up new follows or Likes, and that users are sharing the content you post, then you are probably doing it about right.