The worst hack in Twitter history was carried out by a seventeen-year-old by the name of Graham Ivan Clark. Clark infiltrated accounts belonging to Jeff Bezos, Barack Obama, Kanye West, and many more, posting a fake message that appeared to be from them. All of the messages stated a variation of the one posted by Joe Biden’s account, which read, “I am giving back to the community. All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be doubled! If you send $1000, I will send back $2000. Only doing this for the next thirty minutes. Enjoy!” Of course, the bitcoin donations actually went to Clark himself. Clark managed to do this, according to new information released by prosecutors, by posing as a coworker of Twitter employees and gaining access to Twitter’s IT department and internal systems. And people fell for it. Within minutes, this seventeen-year-old criminal mastermind made over $60,000.00 from well-meaning consumers who only wanted to help the cause. He’s now facing thirty felony counts, and he’ll be tried as an adult, but there are several important things we can learn about brand voice from this story.
How can you tell if a celebrity or a brand is actually putting out their own information? While there’s no sure-fire way to protect against teenagers with the know-how and desire to scam people out of thousands of dollars, having a strong brand voice can help you be recognized online and helps your customers and potential customers know what to expect from your business. Visuals are essential to branding as well, but brand voice is often overlooked, and it’s just as important in helping your customers have a streamlined experience with you. There are many ways to strengthen your brand voice, but some of the best are creating a persona, critically examining your competitors’ content, auditing your brand voice, and remaining consistent with your content.
Create a Persona
A great way to define your brand voice is to create a persona for your brand. Who are your customers? Is your brand more buttoned-up or free-spirited? If your brand was a person, would they be a sophisticated business-woman or a protective middle-aged dad? Once you’ve nailed some of the answers to these questions down, you’ll be well on your way toward creating a persona that you can use to help define your voice. A good exercise is to pick three words you think describe your brand, then read through some of your content to see if those words fit the content. Make sure that you write down what you’ve discovered about your persona so that you can use it to refine your content. You can add to and edit this persona as you discover more about what makes your brand unique.
Look at Your Competitors’ Content
One of the best ways to whittle down what makes your business unique is to look at similar business’ content and compare it to your own. If you were a customer, would you be able to tell if an article was written by your business or a competitor’s? Much like the hapless victims of the Twitter debacle, would your customers be unable to find the difference between your voice and another brand’s voice? Looking at a competitor’s work critically can help you pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of your own, and help you define a voice that is entirely your own in your industry.
Audit Your Brand Voice
Brand voice audits are important in maintaining a consistent image both online and in person. Although you may think your team has your brand voice nailed down, it’s easy to slip into a routine and not think about tightening up your language to match your brand. Having members of your communication or marketing team meet regularly to define the voice, including continually adding to a list of phrases that should and shouldn’t be used, is a good way to keep your branding consistent. It’s also a smart idea to have team members read over each others’ communications sometimes to evaluate how well pieces of writing are fitting into your brand’s persona. Depending on how much content you want your team to put out, this is a good idea to do at least once a month.
This one might seem self-explanatory, but it’s still important. Once you’ve got a great working persona that you’re proud of and you have a good auditing system in place, the most important thing you can do to gain trust with your customers is stay consistent with your brand voice. Use the tools you’ve created to maintain a consistent voice with every piece of content you put out, making sure to adjust if you see that voice occasionally slipping. The more consistent you are, and the longer you put out content clearly written in your brand’s voice, the more your customers will come to connect that voice with your business.
Your business might not be Kanye West, but you can still create a voice that personifies what you represent, and what you want your customers to associate you with. A voice that’s unique to you, and that your customers can learn to love and trust. Maybe it’s too much to expect that everyone would be able to look at a seemingly innocuous tweet and instantly know it wasn’t put out by you, but you can expect that if you have a well-defined and consistent brand voice, your customers will identify you with your excellent content. Good luck, and please let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you create the best possible voice for your brand.
Natalie Jones is part of the Content Team at WebPunch. She’s from Boulder, Colorado, and went to Colorado State University. When she’s not working, she loves music, reading, hiking through Colorado’s most beautiful trails, and planning new road trips. Her current goal is to visit all fifty states by the time she’s thirty, although her plans have been offset somewhat by the pandemic. Natalie is proud to be a part of WebPunch, and looks forward to helping you knock out your competition.