Gone are the days when being active on social media is optional. Social media should be seen as an extension of a robust communications strategy; however, simply having a presence is not enough. Social media is an important place for firms to highlight media coverage, leverage thought leadership, reach new audiences and extend their brand’s reach.
Social media is an extension of an overall communications plan. Just as it is important to have a consistent brand and voice across your firm’s website and marketing content, it’s vital to do the same on social media channels. A brand’s voice is its personality. Established. Trustworthy. Cutting-edge.
Tone, on the other hand, is the application of a brand’s voice in certain situations, with certain audiences, on certain channels. A brand’s voice is always there but the tone will vary given the platform and situation. Similar to climate and weather: the climate in a place is consistent over an extended period of time, but the weather changes from one day to the next.
While the different application of tone across platforms is immediately obvious on some accounts, such as the quirky and witty tone of Wendy’s Twitter vs. its official, much dryer tone on LinkedIn, the difference is much more subtle for financial firms. More important is the difference in style and strategy of posts between Twitter and LinkedIn. The origins of each platform — Twitter as a “microblogging” site where users could share bits of information, and LinkedIn as a professional networking space — helps explain these differences.
As Twitter is a place for anyone and everyone to freely share their thoughts, the collective tone of the platform leans towards nonchalance and spontaneity. Users can flex their creativity and write informally, and one could draw connections between the laid-back, quippy nature of Twitter interactions and its current role as a fast-paced quasi news outlet. Topics burn bright and fast, and users need to jump on trends quickly in order to stay relevant.
- 280 characters max
- 1-3 hashtags per post
- Occasional abbreviations
- Short and sweet
- Use visuals whenever possible
Designed for business professionals to connect and find opportunities, LinkedIn’s intended audience is far narrower than that of its avian cousin. As a result, users generally opt for a more formal tone while still maintaining their brand’s voice. The platform’s news cycle is slower paced than Twitter’s and although companies and individuals don’t want to miss out on throwing their voice into the mix when a trending topic rolls through, they often have more time to cultivate a thoughtful opinion. Consequently, it’s common to see long-form posts, such as this piece from DPL Financial Partners’ CEO David Lau.
- 700 characters for company posts/ 1,300 characters for individuals
- 1-2 hashtags per post, but generally at the end rather than interspersed in text
- Mix of short (2-3 sentences) and occasional long (1-2 paragraphs) posts
- Use visuals whenever possible
Envision Financial Systems
Envision’s overall voice emphasizes their brand as an easy, reliable investor recordkeeping service. They employ a dry, informative tone across their social media channels. However, slight style differences between their tweets and LinkedIn posts reflect the overall style norms of each platform. On Twitter, they keep it brief and toss in hashtags throughout the text, while on LinkedIn, they write lengthier commentary and save the hashtags for the end.
The differences between tone and voice, as well as their application on Twitter and LinkedIn, highlight the importance of establishing a social media plan before diving into the platforms. Consistency is important. Remember that while voice is tied to aspects of a firm that are less likely to change, like its brand and main messaging, experimenting with tone through style choices to see what gets the most engagement is recommended.