What’s critical here is that both have a vice that’s not only inextricably linked with their respective identities, but also defines the way they relate to their respective audiences and their audiences (in turn) to them. One’s a somewhat prim and correct— and very feminine—Connecticut Yankee hostess; the other’s an earthy, informal, and somewhat macho ‘Nawlins native. Each voice reflects not only personality but also product and brand, complete with taglines.
(“BAM!” and “It’s a good thing.”) Each is effectively defined by a voice that’s human and genuine. Those two qualities should form the basis of the way content addresses an online audience.
These formats—and their attendant voices—aren’t bad in and of themselves. However, when you are creating online content—whether in written text or spoken word—you should make an effort to strike a more informal, conversational tone with the audience. To some, this comes easily. It’s second nature. For others, it’s more difficult to strike the right balance.
For this latter group, it may help to write the way you talk (rather than the way you usually write). Imagine you’re sitting down with a customer or a prospect, or even talking to a friend about your business, products, or services. You likely speak with animated passion and enthusiasm. You speak conversationally and in all probability, much more informally than you’d write what you’re actually saying.
You strive to create a bond with the person (or people) you’re addressing, to encourage their interest and willingness to engage. You’re concerned less with being formally “correct” than you are with really communicating on an engaging, personal level—with creating an emotional bond.
You also would adopt your voice for the channel. You’d be more formal in a whitepaper than in, say, a tweet in which, limited to 140 characters or less, you’d have no problem resorting to common social media abbreviations (LOL!).
Spokesperson or Spokes-Character
This technique isn’t for every business, but some organizations have found great success in creating a character that clearly represents its online voice. We’ve already seen plenty of cases, mostly in online videos, in which these characters are real people: Wine Library’s Gary Vaynerchuk, for example, or Blendtec’s Tom Dickson.
But taking a page from traditional marketing’s tried-and-true spokes character concept: The Pillsbury Doughboy, the Geico Gekko, Madge the Manicurist, Mrs. Folger, or Mr. Clean (to name but a few) online spokes-characters work well for some as representatives of the overall brand—and brand voice.
Celebrities can accord many benefits to brands, which is why many of their voices have been interchangeable with brand voices for decades. Online, it’s no different— only the channels are. For tens of thousands of dollars, the irritating Kardashian sisters or Paris Hilton might consider tweeting on your behalf.
Of course, once you’re enlisting a paid spokesperson, you’re very much on the verge of advertising rather than practicing content marketing.