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social media marketing

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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Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You?

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Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You?

by Kate Vandeveld

At WhyWhisper, we work to make sure that organizations and businesses that are changing the world are able to spread the word about their work as effectively as possible. And as a widely available, generally unrestricted, and low-cost communication channel, social media is an essential part of any marketing and communications strategy.

But in order to engage the right audiences and enhance your brand, it is crucial to choose the right social platforms. Too often, organizations opt to use too many platforms, and then neglect them or use them ineffectively; or choose the wrong platforms and miss important segments of their audience.

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? on WhyWhisper

Here’s what you need to consider in order to ensure that you’re utilizing the social media platforms that are best for you: 

Who are you trying to reach?  

What are the demographics of the people you’re talking to? Think in terms of age, gender, location, education, income level, etc. Also, are you hoping to reach individuals or businesses?  

What kind of content do you have to share?

Do you have a lot of original content to share with your followers? How often does your content feature images that you could share on social media?

How much time do you have to stay active?

Think about this in terms of how much time you’ll have to dedicate to social media on a daily or weekly basis.


Once you’ve identified your target audience, reviewed the amount of original content you have to share, and assessed how much time you have to remain active and engaged, you can start to determine which platforms you should be using. Here’s how it breaks down on some of the most widely used social media platforms:

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? - WhyWhisper
  • Audience: Facebook has the largest audience of all of the social media platforms, with little variance between age and gender, though it skews slightly female. Facebook can be used to reach any demographic.
  • Content: Consider using Facebook if you have access a good deal of original content. Ideally, you’ll want to use images as much as possible on Facebook, as posts that include images perform much more successfully than those without.
  • Time commitment: Facebook requires a lower time commitment, as most posts can be scheduled in advance through the Facebook platform itself, and you won’t need to engage as actively as you would on a more fast-paced platform like Twitter.
    • Recommended frequency: 1-2 posts each day (scheduled through Facebook)

 

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? - WhyWhisper
  • Audience: If you’re trying to reach a younger audience, especially those aged 18-49, consider using Twitter. While Twitter’s audience skews slightly male, you definitely shouldn’t discount it if you are looking to reach a more female audience. Because Twitter’s users are more active than those on other platforms, with 46% logging in on a daily basis, it is ideal for reaching highly engaged individuals who are looking for the latest and greatest information.
  • Content: If you are going to use Twitter, you should have access to a large amount of original content or the time and ability to remain consistently active with your followers on a daily basis. Twitter’s interface is such that new posts are only at the top of the queue momentarily, so you have to introduce new content frequently to stay on your audience’s radar.
  • Time commitment: As noted, Twitter requires more consistent time commitment for growth and engagement. Though the bulk of your posts can be scheduled in advance through a third party management tool, you will want to be engage with your followers live as much as possible as well.
    • Recommended frequency: 4+ posts each day (scheduled through a third party management tool), plus as much live interaction with followers as possible

 

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? - WhyWhisper
  • Audience: If you are trying to reach the 18-29 age bracket, consider using Instagram. The platform’s users skew slightly female (29% of all internet users versus 22% of men). Instagram’s audience has been steadily on the rise, with 26% of adult internet users now on the platform (up from 17% in 2013), so it’s definitely worth considering if you have access to compelling visual content.
  • Content: As Instagram is a primarily visual platform, you should definitely have access to shareable images if you’re considering using Instagram.  
  • Time commitment: Instagram requires frequent sharing and consistent use for growth and engagement, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding whether or not to use it. Posts can be scheduled in advance through a third party management tool, though on this platform it is more difficult to control the visual outcome of a scheduled post than it is to post live. Because of that, we recommend testing out the management tool to make sure that posts look the way that you want them to before scheduling a large number of them.
    • Recommended frequency: Posting 4-7x/week (live or scheduled through a third party management tool), plus as much live interaction with followers as possible

 

Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for You? - WhyWhisper
  • Audience: If you are trying to reach females aged 18-29 and 50+, you should definitely consider Pinterest. Pinterest skews considerably more female, with 42% of women on the internet are using the platform compared with just 13% of men.
  • Content: Pinterest content is focused around images, so definitely consider this platform if your content is image heavy.
  • Time commitment: Pinterest requires active sharing and use in order to grow and maintain a following. Like with Instagram, Pinterest posts can be scheduled in advance through a third party management tool, but be sure to test it out to make sure that your posts look like you intend them to before scheduling a large number.
    • Recommended frequency: Posting 3-5x/week (live or scheduled through a third party management tool), plus as much live interaction with followers as possible

 

LinkedIn2.jpg
  • Audience: If you are trying to reach employed college graduates aged 30-64, you should consider using LinkedIn. This platform is geared toward professionals, and those who are looking to network on a business level. Because of this, LinkedIn is ideal for B2B companies, and companies with a high level of need for new talent. It's also great for non-profits that are looking to find volunteers and engage with other similar organizations.
  • Content: LinkedIn users are looking for industry insights and news about your business or organization. If you have a good amount of that kind of information to share with a young professional audience, definitely consider using LinkedIn. LinkedIn is also a great place for finding volunteers, building professional connections, and finding new talent for your business.
  • Time commitment: LinkedIn requires less consistent sharing and use, so it is not nearly as time consuming as some of the more fast-paced platforms. As with Instagram and Pinterest, posts can be scheduled in advance through a third party management tool (like Hootsuite or Sprout Social), but we recommend that you test it out with LinkedIn as well.
    • Recommended frequency: Posting 1-2x/week (live or scheduled through a third party management tool), plus some interaction with groups that are relevant to you or your brand

Once you’ve narrowed your options down, we recommend that you get a bit more in-depth with your strategy. Consider the following:

Which platforms are your competitors using, and how are they using them?

Research where your competitors are on social media, and how successful they are on the platforms they’re using. You’ll likely want to be where your competitors are, and you can use their strategies as a starting point to determine what is working to engage similar audiences (as well as what isn’t!).

How do you or your brand stand out from competitors, and how can you use social media to showcase that?

Think about the things that make you or your brand unique from your competitors, and how you can accentuate that value through social media. For example, if your content features beautiful images, whereas your competitors’ does not, which platforms can you use to best showcase them? This way, you can draw in a different segment of your shared audience.


If used effectively, social media can make a huge difference in helping you achieve your goals, whether you want to increase web traffic, boost donations or revenue, or simply grow your following.

What are your favorite social media platforms, and why? Let us know in the comments below, or share with us on our own social platforms – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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5 Steps to Selling your Cause on Social Media

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5 Steps to Selling your Cause on Social Media

by Shanley Knox

If there is a single key to mastering the art of social media, it lies in building relationships. Whether you are looking to drive donations, draw volunteers, or promote awareness of a social issue, it's critical that your followers and fans feel personally involved in your organizational success.

The secret to beginning this process? Effective, personal engagement with people in your online network.  Here are five steps to guide you in your efforts:

1. Start By Getting Personal

In sales, it is often said that if someone feels that they can relate to you, they are much more likely to purchase. The same is true of causes. Does a follower share a similar love of your favorite book? Are they tweeting about a movie you just saw? Reach out to let them know how you felt about it. Take it a step further... if they tweet about their passion for a cause that relatees to your organization, reach out with a comment about why you care. It may seem like a small gesture to you, but facilitating this personal connection lets your followers (and potential followers) know you’re listening, and will ultimately help to create buy-in.

2. Cultivate a Relationship

Now that you've initiated contact, refrain from immediately selling your cause. Instead, let them know you value their perspective. If they are posting relevant content, retweet it. Answer their questions. Like their photos. Ask about their day. There’s no need to rush. They’ll be more likely to buy or donate once they feel that they can trust you.

Meanwhile, take some time to learn about who you're engaging with. If done properly, this process will produce valuable research for your organization...
     - What type of people follow you and/or respond to your outreach? 
     - What events or hobbies are they interested in?
     - Where do they live? 
     - How old are they?
     - What drives them to speak up? 

3. Address Their Pain Points

When it comes time to directly pitch your organization, think back to your research. Is there some way they personally relate to your cause? Use it to spark the conversation. Are they looking for ways to get involved, but have limited time to give? Present them with volunteer opportunities that require minimal commitment. Do they wonder where donations dollars go? Show them with pictures and stories. Knowing these pain points helps you to send them relevant information (in 140 characters, no less). It will make all the difference.

4. Close the Deal

When it comes time to close the deal, don’t be shy. Many donors or potential volunteers are interested in causes, but forget to follow through, or procrastinate until later (don’t we all?). Don't be afraid to ask for what you want. Sending a friendly reminder such as, “Did you get the link I sent?” or “I’d love to have an offline conversation about our organization, if you’re interested!” will help to put pressure on them to respond, without pushing them to an uncomfortable point.

5. Follow Up

Didn’t get them the first time? Don’t be frustrated. Studies have shown that making a sale can take seven to eleven points of contact. By following up, you can help prospective donors to recognize their value to your organization. By asking for something specific, e.g. “Five minutes of your time?” or, “Think you can join us in volunteering on Saturday?”, you provide them with the opportunity to deliver. 

Beyond all else, be sure to continue using your social channels to engage with your prospects. Show them you care beyond their potential as a donor. It's all about building trust through authentic means of engagement. 

Have tips to add? Tell us in the comments below, or contact us via Facebook, Twitter or Email

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Sell Your Product First and Your Story Second

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Sell Your Product First and Your Story Second

by Shanley Knox

 Nowhere has business become more purposeful than in the world of social enterprise. New businesses are constantly cropping up with world-changing missions, messages of empowerment, and products to address even the worst of society's issues.

In a world where nearly half of global consumers are willing to pay extra for socially responsible products and services, it's becoming a growing challenge for social enterprises to stand out against other cause-oriented products and services. 

In his recent piece, “Social Enterprises Must Move Beyond Purpose,” Heath Shackelford writes that, “your customers only allow your purpose to be a factor if you meet other criteria, including price, quality and value.”

To differentiate your social enterprise, begin by providing the best possible product or service. Then, market it like a successful business would - through effective research, market differentiation, and smart brand messaging. Afterward, tell a social story that illustrates the power of what a successful social business can do.

Here are some steps to get you started:  

Learn Your Market
Before you plan for marketing to your market, you’re going to need to know who they are. Begin by determining factors such as what kind of customer is going to pay for your product or service, and where you can find them.

Some key questions:

  • Approximately how many people out there are willing to pay for your product?
  • What amount are they willing to pay for your product or service?
  • Where are these people located?
  • What are these people interested in?
  • Who is already marketing a similar product to them, and how do you measure up against them?

Find Your Unique Selling Point 
Many social enterprises focus on the social benefits of their product, rather than focusing on the value and quality of their product itself. Now that you know who your customer is, and who else is selling to them, it’s time to identify your unique selling point... in other words, what makes your product or service more attractive than anyone else’s? 

  • Research your customer’s satisfaction with their current products or services: What do they love? What would they want to change? Why?
  • Are there certain messages that are a “no-go”? For instance, your customers may associate terms such as “nonprofit,” “fair trade” or “green” with a product that is subpar. By identifying and removing these “trigger” phrases, you remove potential purchasing barriers.

Craft Your Voice
Once you've decided how to effectively market your product, its time to integrate your social mission back into your branding, and create a voice that will consistently tell your story to current and potential customers:

  • What is the type of message that resonates most with your customers - is it people or numbers? emotional stories or statistics? formal or casual?
  • What are the facets of your social story that appeal most to the customer sector you have identified? 
  • Who are the influencers (voices that effectively influence others' purchasing decisions) in your customer groups? Wow can you reach them and convince them to share your product?
  • Which social platforms are your customers currently using, and how must you adjust your voice to meet the parameters of that particular platform? 

Looking for more support in building an effective marketing strategy for your social enterprise? Check out these helpful resources:

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