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Strategy

Developing Your Brand's Voice & Messaging Guidelines

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Developing Your Brand's Voice & Messaging Guidelines

by Kate Vandeveld

When you're beginning to market a new brand, there are a lot of things to consider; for example: Which platforms will you use to promote it? What will you be posting about? Who are your target audiences, and how do you want them to feel or respond whenever they encounter your brand?

Each of these is a key element in building your brand identity; and the voice you use to convey that identity is absolutely crucial. We've discussed the reasons why it's important to take the time to develop a voice, but how does one go about it? What are the key elements that ensure your brand's voice is clear and distinct, and will appeal to your target audience?

We wanted to pass along some helpful information on developing a voice guide for your brand:

Brand Identity Pillars

When you’re preparing to promote your brand, you've likely put a good deal of thought into its visual identity. From logo to color scheme to website aesthetic, every aspect makes a difference in how your audience will perceive you. The same applies to your voice. Take time to think through who your brand is and what the purpose of your messaging will be. Do you want to be seen as an expert in your field, focused on education or thought leadership? Or maybe as a relatable partner that serves as a source of inspiration? Write out 3-4 statements that define your brand, with the understanding that these are all-encompassing: you will not be or share or do anything that falls outside of them. Your content strategy will be built around these brand identity pillars.

Tone

Once you’ve decided on your brand’s basic identity, the first thing you should consider is tone. Is your brand’s voice upbeat and friendly? More professional and knowledgeable? Think about where your audience will be reading your messaging. Is it via email, social channels, website? What tone will you be using for each?  If you're going for upbeat and friendly, for example, your language will likely be more colloquial and informal. If your brand identity is more professional and knowledgeable, on the other hand, you may want to consider using more formal language, perhaps with a bit more industry jargon. The type of language you use will appeal to different types of audiences, so consider the way your target audience generally speaks, and build your voice accordingly.

Guidelines

Next, you'll want to consider the type of content you’ll be sharing. Take the time to map out things you would and wouldn’t post about. When it comes time to begin your content marketing, you’ll have a much better idea of what should and shouldn’t be posted, so as to make sure you stay true to your brand.

Diction

Lastly, it's time to define the specific words and phrases that you want to use in your messaging. Research other individuals and businesses active in your industry to determine which words and phrases are most commonly used, most well received, and which should be avoided. Consider whether you want to play into and build upon language trends and slang, or avoid them altogether. Get as granular as you possibly can; it will help you exponentially when you're developing your content.

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Developing a new brand is a lot of work, but it can also be a lot of fun. You can tweak your guide as you gain insight into what appeals to your audience and what doesn't. And once you have your guide in place, you can share it with your whole team to make sure you're all on the same page when representing your brand. It will also really come in handy if you ever decide to bring in any outside help!

Do you have any tips for new brands that are developing their voices? Share with us! Here's how:

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The Art of Efficient Social Media Management

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The Art of Efficient Social Media Management

by Kate Vandeveld

Maintaining your brand’s social media presence can feel daunting. So much so that often, businesses and organizations set up their social media platforms, post a bunch for the first couple of weeks, and then get too overwhelmed and stop altogether. As you may have guessed, this is not a good plan. Social media creates incredible opportunities to maximize awareness of your brand, drive leads, and activate influencers… but not if you’re not active.

The Art of Efficient Social Media Management -- via WhyWhisper Collective

Thankfully, we have good news! Social media management doesn’t have to be as hard or as time consuming as you might think. In fact, you can do what you need to do in just a few hours each week. 

That said, we do have one caveat: There are some steps you should take in advance to make this easy maintenance possible. Here they are…

Strategize

First and foremost, if you want to ensure that your social media efforts are an effective and strong representation of your brand, you’ll want to take the time to develop a social media strategy. In doing so, you’ll have a solid understanding of your audience, competitors, key channels, and content strategy, which will put you in a perfect position  to confidently and efficiently develop and share content. If you’re still not sold, here are our thoughts on why social strategy is so crucial.

Do Your Research

Once you’ve developed your social strategy, you’ll have a good idea of who your audience is and how you want to talk to them. But a little bit of additional research will make management even easier. First, take the time to develop a list of commonly used Twitter hashtags in your industry. Knowing what these are in advance will help you as you develop content and look for relevant posts to share with your audience.

Then, do some research around influencers and thought leaders in your field. Create Twitter lists that break these individuals and organizations out into different audience segments or content types. For example, if your target audience is moms, you might have lists for mom bloggers, parenting experts, and influential pediatricians. These lists will save you a ton of time when you’re looking for content to share each day.

Invest in a Scheduling Tool

There are many different social media scheduling tools out there. Sprout Social is our current favorite, but all will save you a ton of time when you start to publish your content. Do some research on what each tool has to offer, and then set it up for each of your channels. This will allow you to schedule a lot of your social content in advance, as well as engage with your community in a more efficient manner.

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Once you’ve completed these initial steps, you’re ready to start pushing out content. Here are the simple steps we recommend that you take to maintain your social media presence:

Schedule Posts in Advance

There are certain aspects of your content strategy that you’ll be able to prepare and schedule in advance. For example, you can promote elements of your brand that won’t change, such as newsletter sign-up or details about an upcoming event. Your content strategy will inform you about the frequency and timing with you should be scheduling. This way, if you don’t have a ton of time to post live throughout the week, your feeds will still remain active. That said, we have one important note to share: Take the time to make sure everything looks good throughout the day every day – sometimes, a post will look great when you schedule it, and get messed up when it goes live. You never know!

Share Live Updates

Odds are, part of your content strategy includes sharing news or information that you can’t schedule in advance. In order to keep your voice authentic, get on your social accounts just once or twice a day and share something original that you’ve found. If you don’t have time to share anything original, it’s okay – just skip ahead to the next step this time.

Engage & Share

Choose two or three times each day on your calendar to take five to ten minutes to do the following:

  • Respond to all comments and mentions that have come in
  • Review RTs and new followers and thank as appropriate
  • Check your Twitter lists and the list you created of commonly used hashtags, and share a few pieces of content that are relevant to your brand (Note: Now, you can re-tweet with comments – do so if you have an extra moment!)

That’s it! Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of social media management best practices. But if you follow these simple steps, you’ll be able to maintain a solid social presence for your brand, in a manageable amount of time.

What are your favorite social media management tips? Share with us! Here’s how:

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How to Implement an Effective Content Strategy

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How to Implement an Effective Content Strategy

by Kate Vandeveld

As marketers, we’re all about developing and implementing effective content strategies. While we agree with Bill Gates that “content is king,” we also know that great content is nothing without a great strategy to promote it.

How to Implement an Effective Content Strategy -- WhyWhisper Collective

Effective content strategies vary based on a number of elements – a business or organization’s mission, audience, and goals, to name a few. Critical components typically include, but are not limited to: a website, social media, a newsletter, and a blog.

But no matter what your content strategy looks like, there are certain things you can and should do to ensure its effectiveness. Here are our tips: 

Know Your Audience

When you’re developing your brand’s content strategy, it’s crucial to know your audience. And we’re not just talking basic demographics – take the time to look into their interests, the types of media they most frequently engage with, and their purchasing habits. The more you know about your target audience, the better you can tailor your content to their interests and needs.

Establish Goals

Before you get started, think about what you’re trying to accomplish.  Do you want to grow your following? Are you hoping to increase engagement? Looking to boost sales? When you take the time to establish your goals from the start, you can build your content strategy around them.

Develop a Voice

We’ve talked about the importance of honing in on your brand’s voice before developing and sharing social media content, but this advice really applies across the board. If you want to create a brand personality that your target audience can relate to, take the time to think through how you want to speak to them. Is your brand’s voice informal and colloquial? More professional? What kinds of words and phrases do you want to use, and which do you want to avoid? Think it through – it will make a noticeable difference.

Be Consistent

When it comes to content strategy, consistency is key. Come up with a schedule for each element of your strategy, so you can be sure to deliver content at regular intervals. Messaging consistency is equally as important. When you put out a blog post, share it on social media and in your newsletter, if possible. If you update your website to reflect a change in brand positioning, do the same across all platforms.

Monitor & Adjust Accordingly

Once you’ve put the time into getting to know your audience, setting goals, developing a voice, and coming up with a plan for consistency, it’s time to monitor your strategy. Look at metrics and pay attention to engagement across all elements of your strategy. Then comes the most important part: Use what you learn to make adjustments to your strategy. Change messaging or timing, share more or less frequently. Try new tactics and pay attention to the response. Use the first few months after implementing a new strategy as a testing period – your strategy will be stronger for it.


No matter what your brand or organization, if you take the time to do these things when you’re developing and implementing your brand’s content strategy, it will be well worth it.

What are your personal tips and tricks for content strategy? Share with us! Let’s help each other be the best we can be. Here’s how you can share:

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Marketing: When You Should (& Should Not) Work With an Outside Firm

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Marketing: When You Should (& Should Not) Work With an Outside Firm

by Kate Vandeveld

At WhyWhisper, we believe wholeheartedly in only working with clients when we’re passionate about their work AND we know we can help them reach their goals. In fact, we built our business model in such a way that we are able to customize our teams based on each client’s particular needs, objectives, and industry.

Marketing: When You Should (& Should Not) Work With an Outside Firm -- via WhyWhisper

That said, we would never suggest that working with an outside firm is always the best answer. We know there are certain circumstances under which working with an outside firm is more beneficial than others (and we’re not afraid to say that out loud). Next time you’re contemplating hiring vs. leveraging external resources, keep these things top of mind:

  • The exact responsibilities and/or role that you are looking to fill and the expertise required
  • Your available budget
  • The estimated hours required per week in order to meet this need

Once you have those answers, you’ll be in a good place to determine whether it makes sense to build your capacity internally, or engage an outside firm for support. Here’s how we see it:

 

You should probably hire in-house if...

 

You need consistent, long-term support.

As you’re deciding between building your in-house team and seeking outside support, take a look at your list of needs, and the estimated time commitment. If it seems like you’ll need someone regularly throughout the day, and there’s no immediate end in sight for the work that you need them to do, it probably makes sense to hire someone in-house. While consultants will do their best to make themselves available, when needed, they tend to be a better solution for a specific deliverable or set period of time.

You’re working with a highly technical or niche product.

Generally, consultants are highly adept at quickly entrenching themselves in a particular field or industry, becoming experts on products and brands very quickly.  That said, if your company develops a product that requires extensive and complex technical knowledge, it will likely take more time and resources than it’s worth to bring an outside firm up to speed. If this is the case, consider hiring a full-time employee who will be able to use that knowledge and training beyond the scope of a specific project.

You have the time and budget to hire someone in-house.

If your company is in a steady state of growth, has a stable budget, and needs 40 hours/week of support, it makes good sense to make a full-time hire. Plus, as a fully invested member of the team, you have flexibility in regards to responsibilities without having to reassess budgets.

 

Marketing: When You Should (& Should Not) Work With an Outside Firm -- via WhyWhisper

On the other hand, you can benefit from working with an outside firm if…


You need a fresh perspective. 

If you’re having difficulty achieving intended results – whether sales, reach, engagement, or something else entirely – it may be time for a strategy overhaul. In these circumstances, we often hear that it can be hard for the day-to-day team to find the time or objective perspective necessary for taking a step back, identifying the problem, and re-thinking the strategy, As you might imagine, an outside firm (especially one with experience in your sector) might be just what you need. They’ll be able to look at your current practices objectively, and offer a new take on how you can effectively reach your goals. After all, developing a solid strategy is crucial to the success of your marketing efforts.

You need additional staff for a short time period.

On a normal day, you ‘re confident you have the ideal team for successfully operating your business. That is, until you decide it’s time to launch a new product or campaign, or your busy season arrives. In these situations,  it probably doesn’t financially make sense to hire a new full-time employee. Instead, consider working with an outside firm to give you short-term support.

For example, if you’re looking to launch a crowdfunding campaign, you really wouldn’t want to bring on a full-time marketing or development person. What you need is a small team of individuals who have extensive crowdfunding experience. They can help you develop a solid strategy and show you how to implement. Beyond that, you can determine whether it’s beneficial to keep them on for execution, or if that’s something that you are able to handle with your existing in-house staff.

You need a particular skillset but don't have the budget or headcount to hire.

Sometimes, as much as you’d like to hire a full team of permanent employees to meet every possible need, it’s just not financially possible. For this reason, it often works well to hire a full-time team to handle daily operations, but outsource for particular needs if and when they arise.

For example, if you don’t have an in-house design team, but do have interim design needs, this is the perfect opportunity to bring on a freelancer or contractor, as needed. Or perhaps you’re interested in developing a social impact strategy to incorporate into your company’s operations, but you don’t have the necessary expertise or aren’t ready for full program build-out. A consultant can be a useful resource in helping you build out your plans.

You are scaling quickly and need immediate support.

Hiring the right full-time employee takes time and careful consideration… and with salary, benefits, training time, and team morale, onboarding the wrong person can be incredibly costly. If you’re facing an urgent talent need, but know better than to rush through the process, consider retaining an experienced consultant short-term. Consultants are generally prepared to ramp up quickly, and can even be beneficial if helping you identify your hiring needs.


What are your thoughts on working with outside agencies versus building internal capacity? We want to talk about it! You can…

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Why You Need a Social Media Strategy

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Why You Need a Social Media Strategy

by Kate Vandeveld

As social media marketers, we often engage with clients who want to launch a social media presence or campaign quickly. And we get it – when you’re ready to get the word out about your product or services, you really want to hit the ground running. But, if you want to ensure your social media efforts are an effective and strong representation of your brand, it is so important to develop a strategy before you jump in and start posting.

Why You Need a Social Media Strategy via WhyWhisper Collective

When you set aside time to plan out your social media strategy, you can…

Make Sure You’re In the Right Place

Often, those who are new to social media feel like they should be everywhere – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube…you name it. But really, being on too many social media platforms can be detrimental. If you’re on too many platforms without good reason, you could be wasting time trying to maintain a channel that isn’t speaking to the audience you intend. Conversely, if you choose to forego certain platforms without research, you could miss out on promising engagement opportunities.

When selecting your social media platforms, you’ll want to consider who you’re trying to reach, what kind of content they’re interested in, what you can provide that’s of value to them, and how much time you have to stay active. You can find some of this information for a few of the most widely-used social media platforms here.

Then, once you’ve selected your social media platforms, you need to set them up correctly. Start by making sure that your images are crisp and compelling, that your descriptions are optimized for search, comprehension, and tone of voice, and that your branding is aligned across all platforms. First impressions are critical on social media, so think through how to do it right.

 

Decide On Your Destination

Before launching anything, you should be able to answer “why?” Do you need greater awareness of your products or services? Are you hoping to increase revenue or donations? Are your customers looking for a more personal buying experience? Define your objectives carefully, and identify the metrics you will need to track. Make a plan to report these metrics and analyze your data on a regular basis. This will allow you to make adjustments and improvements along the way.

Why You Need a Social Media Strategy via WhyWhisper

 

Develop a Strong Voice

Just like in a conversation, your tone and voice are incredibly important on social media. If you already have a strong sense of the persona you’d like to express, taking the time to write it down in detail will go a long way in making sure you get it right. Putting it in writing also means you’ll be able to share your voice and messaging guidelines with your team, if they should ever need to post on your behalf.

If you’re unsure of the voice you want your brand to convey, look at the brands you admire and write down what you like most. Do you want to be casual and witty? Speak more formally? Come across as a friend, a mom, or an authority figure? There are so many ways you can position your brand, and what you decide will have a big effect on the extent to which an audience will engage with your posts.

 

Make Room for Creative Ideas

Once you know who you’re talking to, where you need to be, what others are doing in your sector, and how to be efficient with your time, you’re in the best possible place to come up with creative ideas. Take CTC International’s #LoveIsProject. Earlier this year, the organization launched a social media campaign in promotion of a new crowdfunding effort, encouraging people to connect with each other by posting their own stories of love with the hashtag #LoveIsProject. With careful planning, they saw enormously high participation rates, and exceeded their crowdfunding goal of $5,000, raising a total of $32,844. 

Or take a look at DoSomething.org, a non-profit that brings young people together to tackle some of the world's most pressing problems by creating and joining social impact campaigns. Through careful strategic planning, they've developed a strong voice that appeals to their target audience: young, motivated individuals who want to make an impact. Their humorous and engaging content has prompted thousands to get involved in their campaigns, which have made an impact a range of issues, from bullying to homelessness to literacy.

Why You Need a Social Media Strategy via WhyWhisper


Ensure Efficient Management

Every platform requires a different posting frequency, and posts are more effective on various platforms at different times of day. Maintaining social media feeds can be time consuming, and sometimes overwhelming; but, it doesn’t have to be. By planning ahead, you can utilize time-saving social media management tools to schedule posts and monitor relevant activity from others automatically. You can develop content calendars that ensure consistent messaging across platforms. And your management strategies will free up your time to focus on authentic engagement with your audience.

 

Review Best Practices & Content

Make sure to look at what others in your space are doing well or poorly, as well as how different types of content are received on different platforms. When you go in blind, you miss the opportunity to learn from the mistakes and successes of others.

 

No matter how well acquainted you are with social media, or how excited you are to launch your social campaign, you will find great value in taking the time to strategize. Developing a focused strategy will make a huge difference in your long-term results.

What are some of your tips for strategizing around social media? Share with us in the comments below, or on our own platforms – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

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How to Run an Online Campaign with User Generated Content

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How to Run an Online Campaign with User Generated Content

by Shanley Knox

When it comes to running a successful online campaign, the key is no longer just in offering great content to your users. Instead, it's important to create a campaign that convinces your followers to generate the content themselves.

So, just how do you do that?

Set Measurable Goals

Before beginning your campaign, it's important to explore your purpose. Do you want to increase your reach? Educate others? Generate sales leads? Your goal should be clearly defined, so as to inform your strategy and content.  

Make it Worthwhile

Once you’ve laid out your campaign goals, it's important to ensure that you're offering fans value in exchange for providing you with content. In order to identify what makes them tick, you need to do some research. Do your fans want visibility across your platforms? Recognition for a donation? An opportunity or a prize? Once you pinpoint exactly what it is that they’re looking for, you can craft your campaign content around it.

Develop Toolkits to Support Your Fans

What do you want your campaign partners, stakeholders, and fans to do? Do you want them to share your logo, tweet a certain link, or post photos that incorporate your product? Make sure you create a comprehensive list, as this will help to ensure your campaign goals are met by the content your fans are generating. To set yourself up for success, make downloadable toolkits readily accessible, including sample tweets, shareable logos, photos, testimonials, and more.

Create Campaign Ambassadors

Campaign ambassadors are online users who spread the word on your behalf through their social accounts and personal networks. Often, your existing fans and supporters make the best campaign ambassadors. Request participation via email, and routinely follow up with specific tasks that maintain campaign momentum.

Another way to generate campaign ambassadors is to put up a registration page on your website.


Invite Fans to Collaborate

Host a Twitter chat, feature guest bloggers, invite guest pinners to your Pinterest boards. By inviting fans to collaborate with you, you're helping to create buy-in between you and your fans, while also incorporating new thoughts and/or aesthetics, and driving visibility amongst fan networks.


Engage

Don’t forget to monitor your campaign daily, and engage with your fans throughout. Like their posts, comment on their entries, share their content.... let them know you appreciate their involvement. 

Have you hosted a successful campaign focused on user generated content? Tell us in the comments below, or contact us via Facebook, Twitter or Email

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