Find the Right Voice for Your Social Media Platform

Article 6 min
Choose the right tone and language to make your social media platform unique and have an impact.

Today's social media users are savvy, active and engaged. They react to content, participate in conversations and interact with both the users and the administrators of the platform. This means that today's platform administrators must step up to the challenge of responding; the days of canned responses and talking figure heads are over. Competition for attention on social media is fierce. Maximizing engagement requires active, daily commitment and unique content to keep your audience coming back for more. Having a voice that users recognize and regularly engage with is key to garnering a loyal and active audience.

Five keys to unlocking the right voice for the platform are:

  1. Consistency: General responses and purely informational posts are jarring on a platform designed to spark conversation. Every post should feel as though a conversation is flowing. The official social media platform establishes a character that embodies the spirit of a unit or service and perfectly aligns to both the military and local culture. Being consistent will help the user know what to expect and notice when something is different, like in a crisis when you need their attention.
  2. Purpose: Your account will likely serve multiple purposes related to communicating information, informing operations and building community relations. Consider the  day-to-day focus and go back to the Unique Value Proposition (UVP). This identifies what your social media platform is designed to do and what sets it apart from others in the same category. Simply put, it's a layout describing the benefit offered by a specific platform, aligned with what a user of that platform needs or wants and balanced against what distinguishes the platform from other similar types.
  3. Character: This is the mission statement for the platform. It establishes the brand personality by using adjectives to describe it. 
  4. Tone: This is an element of the voice. The tone incorporates factors like audience, situation and channel to create a flavor or vibe. Voice is the mission statement, while the tone is the application of that statement.
  5. Language: This is the vocabulary used by the platform.

It is important to align your purpose with the appropriate character and have a voice and tone to support that character. This provides the consistency for your audience.

Explore the options below to find a purpose and determine a character that is right for your platform. Remember that these are not all of your options but a starting point to get you thinking about aligning your purpose to your character, tone and language.

Find Your Voice

Use labels along the top to progress through scenarios. Click the learn more button for more in-depth information.

IF YOUR UNIT'S GOAL IS...
  • to build rapport with a community who share the same interest in your organization's niche
  • to attract an interactive audience
  • to connect with potential and current members in your field of expertise
THEN THE PURPOSE IS
TO ENGAGE

WHEN THE PURPOSE IS TO
ENGAGE

  • FACILITATOR
  • PERSONABLE
  • ENCOURAGING

Be a Facilitator. Take on this character to attract new followers and interact with your community to keep them coming back. Keep the conversation going beyond your own posts by interacting with comments, replies, and other organization's posts.

TONE

  • Personal
  • Friendly
  • Approachable

LANGUAGE

  • Simple
  • Encouraging
  • Responsive

POST LIKE THIS

Valentine's Day Sample

The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) Facebook page engages service members to post on the page by asking for pictures with their loved ones with the promise of featuring them on the page.

Engage
IF YOUR UNIT'S GOAL IS...
  • to provide regular updates of base events
  • to communicate to the media
  • to share releases and articles from the official site
THEN THE PURPOSE IS
TO INFORM

WHEN THE PURPOSE IS TO
INFORM

  • SME
  • PROFESSIONAL
  • STRAIGHTFORWARD

Be a Subject Matter Expert (SME). Take on this character to keep the media updated, while sending out your own articles. Be consistent with updates, share articles and write like a reporter.

TONE

  • Professional
  • Authoritative
  • Serious

LANGUAGE

  • Straightforward
  • Common
  • Present

POST LIKE THIS

First Day of Spring Sample

Navy Facebook shares an article that updates the media and public on what's happening. Rather than posting the article with a caption that repeats what's in the article, they use a calendar event that the community can connect with to entice people to click.

INFORM
IF YOUR UNIT'S GOAL IS...
  • to humanize and connect with the public
  • to inspire and amplify the services and the community
  • to bring attention to your organization
THEN THE PURPOSE IS
TO ENTERTAIN

WHEN THE PURPOSE IS TO
ENTERTAIN

  • AMBASSADOR
  • CASUAL
  • FUN

Be a Brand Ambassador. Take on this character to use your wit and suave to attract and delight your audience. Be tasteful, and remember you represent your organization, so know your limits.

TONE

  • Casual
  • Funny
  • Playful

LANGUAGE

  • Fun
  • Witty
  • Simple

POST LIKE THIS

#BUFFS are pretty cool

Minot Air Force Base tweets an eye-catching photo with a fun caption that highlights their equipment's lethality and global strike capabilities, while maintaining the humor their social media is known for in a reply.

ENTERTAIN
IF YOUR UNIT'S GOAL IS...
  • to teach the community more about the services, what they do and what's been done
  • to memorialize and highlight the achievements of your organization
  • to explain the importance of your organization and its mission
THEN THE PURPOSE IS
TO EDUCATE

WHEN THE PURPOSE IS TO
EDUCATE

  • INSTRUCTOR
  • INSPIRING
  • DESCRIPTIVE

Be an Instructor. Take on this character to educate your audience, or students, by teaching them and reminding them of the power of your organization. Remember not to be condescending or too lengthy; that's not what social media is for.

TONE

  • Inspiring
  • Informative
  • Humble

LANGUAGE

  • Detailed
  • Descriptive
  • Interesting

POST LIKE THIS

Splish Splash

Marines Instagram Post features a short, recognizable caption before going into the details about the photograph. At the very end, they explain the purpose of the exercise as a whole. The photograph is eye-catching and the caption is educational.

EDUCATE