Chapter 11: Content and Voice

Content Speaks

Social media and content go hand-in-hand. Social media websites provide users a platform where they can interact with each other; those interactions are defined by their content. Organizations engaging target audiences through social media must take a pro-active and constant role in sharing content.

Many organizations post content on social websites without a meaningful strategy to back their actions. Good strategy and planning streamlines actions and guides communicators in the right direction. It helps organizations stay on track towards long-term and short-term goals and helps them meaningfully connect with their audiences.

To create an effective content strategy, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my goals?
  • Who should I post content for?
  • Which platforms would work best?
  • What type of content is preferred by my audience?
  • How often should I post content?
  • Which KPIs should I use for measuring performance?

Creating Your “Voice”

Brand voice is the distinct personality of your business that sets you apart from the competition. It creates an image or perception in customers’ minds. If you promote a positive message through a captivating brand voice, you’ll be better able to achieve social media goals through your unique brand voice.

On social media, you can attract the audience through storytelling. Your stories should portray a consistent image to build credibility. For instance, if you are an optimistic person in real life, you notice the positive aspect of every event and don’t linger in the negativity. Similarly, if you intend to portray your brand as adventurous, energetic, inspiring, or trustworthy, you should choose a tone that portrays this image and be consistent.

Audiences consider the brand image of a business before they interact with them or make buying decisions. If your brand voice is intimidating or you often post controversial content, then you may end up losing them to more stable and friendly competitors.

Tone and Brand Voice

What tone and voice resonates best with your target audience? Are you using the language and words that they use? While many marketers focus on the message and what they want to communicate, it is equally important to spend time thinking about the tone, language, dialogue, and voice being used to communicate.

Consider these questions related to tone and voice:

  • Who am I trying to persuade to do what?
  • What tone and voice is most appropriate for the target audience?
  • Are the tone and voice consistent with my organization’s brand identity?
  • How can the content be presented so it is engaging and persuasive, but not condescending?
  • What words demonstrate authentic connection to the audience’s views and feelings?
  • Have any insensitive words or examples been presented that are likely to cause offence to the readers or viewers?

Where to Find the Right Content?

Creating fresh content takes time and effort. If you engage with your audience on multiple social websites, it won’t be easy to generate unique content for every platform, especially when you need to post content on a regular basis.

Look at content generated by other social media users. You can get to know about the latest trends and get ideas for your organization.

You may have created some evergreen content in the past. Go check your social profiles and locate posts that can be reused. For example, you may find images posted on Pinterest or Instagram from previous achievements. You can create blog posts about those experiences, drawing on existing images and post them on your blog. However, when repurposing the content, make sure it goes well with your brand voice and the general language of the specific social platform. You should also consider creating content around the products or services your organization offers.

Content repurposing works great when you understand your organization’s weaknesses and strengthens. Choose platforms that go well with your organization’s brand and strengths and can help you promote your products, services, or mission. As an example, content on TikTok is very abbreviated; this won’t work well if your organization is a law firm, which requires more thorough discussions of complex topics. For them, a blog would be a better choice. However, if your client is a fashion accessory company, TikTok is perfect and a blog would probably be too long and boring.

How to Create the Right Content?

As a communicator and/or marketer, you can learn from social media trends.

Networking and other public events provide opportunities to create engaging content for your social media audience.

Consider recording these events and posting them on social media for followers. You can record videos via any device, but you may wonder whether it’s better to share live and unprocessed videos or process them first before posting on social media. I would say both tactics can work in your favour, depending on the circumstances.

In the case of live events, social media users expect to enjoy live coverage of the event. If you don’t want them to miss those golden moments, you should live broadcast the event on your social media pages. Facebook Live feature comes in handy for this purpose.

Some believe that brands may suffer if they share unprocessed video content with the audience, as the content is less attractive to viewers. But this isn’t the case anymore. People don’t mind this approach because they are aware you may not always have professional equipment at hand for live events. Moreover, people today are more interested in authentic brands. Overly processed content leads to question marks on authenticity, which is why live videos are a valuable social media content option.

Also, posting live videos doesn’t mean processed and professional quality videos aren’t important. You can share the event live and process captured images and videos for later use. With this professional content, you can promote the brand, product, or event on an on-going basis.

What Tools Do You Need?

You don’t need to invest a huge sum in buying equipment and tools to create the right content.

Many social media communicators avoid generating video content because they don’t own professional equipment. However, you don’t need highly professional cameras to record videos. It’s perfectly fine to use a smartphone camera, digital cam, or GoPro for capturing events. But it’s recommended to get a portable tripod to ensure captured videos are stable and clear. As an organization grows, investing in equipment may be advisable, but using a DSLR camera and a tripod might be as much as you need for online content.

In the indoor environment, you may need to arrange lighting equipment. However, outdoor events can save you from this trouble, too. Also, don’t forget to get a microphone to record audio along with the video content. Most built-in microphones are inadequate to the task.

If you intend to share it live, you need not process it to enhance quality, but it’s important to edit and process them for professionally posting them on LinkedIn and other platforms.

There are many video editing software available that you can learn to use. However, it is a complex process that is best left to professionals. To find qualified professionals, you should visit and Upwork websites. These are popular freelancing platforms where you can hire professionals on a project basis or an on-going as per your needs. Self-training with lots of practice is also an option, but it takes time and early results may be second-best in appearance.

The Caption Game?

Posting images and videos on Instagram and other websites isn’t enough; you should complement it with captivating captions to increase engagement. Its length can vary, but the shorter the text, the more effective it will be.

Writing long-form captions can work for brands as long as they aren’t boring. If you want to adopt this method, always remember to mention important phrases or words at the beginning. This way, when the post is truncated, users will still be able to get the information at a glance.

Aside from the descriptive text, you should also add the most appropriate hashtags to increase visibility.

What’s the Hashtag?

Hashtags help users organize content and view posts based on their interests or the latest trends. Organizations should habitually follow hashtags that best connect with their target audiences, as well as other stakeholders (competitors, regulators).

As a social media communicator, you should master the art of creating and using the right hashtags to better promote your organization and its brand, products, services, and/or mission. Some organizations include guidelines in their social media style guides about how many hashtags to include, with some opting for a large number and some opting for one or even none. These are strategic decisions that need to be made by each organization as it approaches its social media engagement strategy.

You can brainstorm innovative hashtags for your needs, but hashtag tools can simplify this task for you. Explore Hashtagify, RiteTag, Trendsmap, and AutoHash to master this skill.

Am I Famous Yet?

Social media communication seems like a cost-efficient and effective way to connect with an audience. However, doing this well requires skill and that means paying for skilled communicators, which is not so cheap as simply hitting “post” to launch content. Part of a social media communications plan may also include paying for ads and boosting content. The mantra that “social media is free” applies to users—who pay with their attention time—and not to organizations who pay for professional skill and advertising benefits.

A common mistake made by some marketers is that they post content and ads on social media for a few days and opt out of social marketing if the posts go unnoticed.

There is no doubt that social media websites have become a leading platforms for marketing purposes. However, it doesn’t mean that your brand will suddenly become popular in a few days.

A majority of businesses rely on social media marketing. Non-profit organizations, governments, political parties, trade unions, and even unincorporated groups (some of them fairly dodgy) use social media to engage with key audiences. Given this, you can’t expect to become a sector leader on social media within a week.

An organization needs to be consistent with their effort. During the initial few weeks, your social media campaigns may not do that well. However, follow your strategy without losing hope. Monitor the performance of the campaign and adapt where advisable.

With this approach, your social media efforts will eventually and increasingly bring results.

We’re Engaged! Aren’t We?

When you create profiles on social media, you may aim to increase the number of followers, but you should also focus on increasing the amount of engagement for long-term benefits.

Social media engagement refers to likes, comments, and shares on posts by other social media users. Not all of your followers are active and many of them may forget about you after liking your page on Facebook or following you on Instagram. In this sense, engagement is far more impactful, as it indicates that your followers not only see your posts, but also meaningfully interact with you.

The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” is certainly true and is applicable in social media communications. With increased competition in the online world, your content needs to both reach your target audience and also capture their attention. If not, a previously engaged audience member will ghost your brand and you may never rebuild that relationship.

If audiences are engaging with your brand, the social media algorithm would show them your content on priority, which helps ensure they remember you. Therefore, not only should you create engaging content, but also monitor the engagement rate.

There are many different tools available that can help you keep track of audience engagement on social media including Twitter Counter, Buzzlogix, Zoho Social, and Agorapulse, which can help you monitor engagement and brand reputation across social platforms.

What If They Don’t Talk Back?

Even though business marketers try their best to attract the target audience and encourage them to like or comment on their posts, they are not always able to achieve this goal. This situation is troublesome and can make you wonder why your entire efforts are going in vain.

To get the answer, you should first analyze your current social media strategy. Perhaps your content is of low-quality or doesn’t interest your audience. Perhaps your choice of social media isn’t right. With this analysis, you may find out potential issues with your strategy and revise it to address those issues.

However, a defective strategy isn’t always the cause of low engagement. You may need to develop more interesting content to capture the attention. Hold live Q&A sessions may be helpful.

Audiences are no longer interested in listening to faceless brands. They rather find the human side of brands more attractive and engage with them on social media. By introducing them to your team and interacting with them via live sessions, you can win their trust and increase engagement.

Customer-generated content can also help you in this regard. You shouldn’t only create and share your own content, but also retweet, or like, or share relevant posts by followers. For instance, if you find an interesting post of your followers discussing the niche or topic related to your organization, you should consider sharing it with your follower base.

Influencer marketing can also be a good option. You can get in touch with social media influencers who have built a community of followers and ask them to promote your brand. When they endorse your business, their followers will visit your social profile and may engage with the content if they find it interesting.

Should I Still Use Email?

Most people check their email on a daily basis, which is why there is no better way for communicators to share information. Yes, even as social media climbs in popularity, email is a superior communications channel. (If you’re wondering what the very best communication channel is, it’s face-to-face conversation, but this is a book about social media.)

Email can increase website traffic and generate or capture qualified leads. You can also curate content and send customized information to audience groups, as per their interests. This targeted information can help in building strong relationships and entice audiences to interact with you.

Once they are directed to your website to get more information, there is a good chance they will go through and take action in a way you’ve intended, such as donating money or buying a product.

What If They’re Upset

Businesses that value their customers work extra hard to provide them an unprecedented and memorable experience. However, they may not be able to achieve this goal every time. Despite your best efforts, some customers may still be unhappy and dissatisfied.

Unhappy customers often post negative reviews about brands on social media pages or Facebook groups. If you notice such a review about your client or employer (or self), you should get ready to resolve the situation instead of losing your cool.

You should calmly listen to customers and apologize for mistakes. If it was a genuine problem, then you should empathize and assure them that the management would look into the matter and resolve the problem at the earliest. You can also send them a gift or discount voucher to make up for their bad experience.

Some customers may accept your apology and let it go, but some customers get too angry and they don’t listen to social media managers. They may continue posting negative reviews about your business and hurt your brand reputation.

In this scenario, the best strategy is to use tracking tools like Mention that keep you updated about discussions and reviews about your business. With this real-time information, you can tackle the situation and spread positive messages about your brand to prevent them from further hurting your business.

Don’t Feed the Trolls

Some angry customers post negative reviews because they genuinely faced a bad experience with your client or employer. But remember that some social media users deliberately post provocative content against other users and businesses out of habit.

They poke fun at others and humiliate them with derogatory content. Interacting with such trolls and responding to their comments can further ignite the situation. So, you need to tactfully handle the situation.

First of all, write terms and policies for your community where followers are expected to be respectful of others and refrain from using offensive language. You can politely ask trolls to be mindful in the light of community policies. You can respond to fake posts regarding your business with facts or ignore them. You can also come up with witty responses to diffuse the situation.

However, social media trolls don’t go away easily and they may keep trying to instigate you. Don’t get into the trap and stay calm and respectful to protect your brand image.

Do the Hokey Pokey: Turn Complaints into Gold

Brands that often receive negative comments and reviews tend to lose customers and damage the reputation. But customer complaints and negative comments aren’t as bad as they are perceived.

These posts give you a chance to identify and recognize your mistakes. Your business processes or products may be harmful in some manner or fail to meet the needs of customers. Instead of treating these comments as trash and ignoring them, you should treat them as feedback and make the most of this constructive feedback to enhance service quality.

If a customer points out that the behaviour of a staff member wasn’t good, you should pay attention to them. Offering excuses won’t help, as that gives the impression you don’t consider customers to be important. You can arrange training sessions for team members to help them boost their skillset and improve service quality—and you can publicly state that’s what you’re doing to address a concern.

You should encourage customers and social media followers to offer suggestions for further improving your business processes. Also, once you implement a customer suggestion, you should post it on social media and appreciate customer feedback.

Do You Even Care?

Customer service is a challenging job. You need to listen to customer complaints and suggestions, and bear their anger, while taking the blame for intentional or unintentional mistakes.

No matter what type of organization you work for, effective audience engagement is the key to success. You should always prioritize your target audiences and work hard to add value to them. Similarly, listening to and addressing their issues is equally important for any organization.

Customers, in particular, are aware of their rights and don’t want to do business with people who ignore them. To become an effective social media communicator, you need to care about your audiences. You don’t want to receive negative reviews due to the negligence of your team. You should develop a culture within the organization where staff members consider customer care their first and foremost responsibility and leave no stone unturned in achieving customer satisfaction.

This approach strengthens relationships with audiences and creates a lasting bond.

Time Management

Social media is a great tool for promoting your business without breaking the bank, but it can become a nuisance if you aren’t careful. Working as a social media communicator can be a tough job if you constantly feel the urge to scroll the timeline every now and then.

Furthermore, social media tends to be a time-consuming function. Without an effective plan, you will end up wasting time and won’t be able to achieve your goals.

A major reason why organizations fail to use social media to their advantage is that they try to be on every social network. This is neither possible nor a good idea. Regardless of whether you work on your own or have a social media team, you need to choose social media that fit your goals. This way, you can save valuable time by putting your entire focus on social media that can increase website traffic and generate results.

Another challenge for organizations is to stay focused on work when logging into social media accounts for job-related tasks. You may soon find yourself checking posts and messages from other users. The best strategy to tackle this issue and manage time is to set time limits for every task. For instance, if you need to post a tweet, you should specify the time needed for the task. With the deadline approaching, you will be motivated to prioritize real work.

Practice Safe Scheduling

To succeed as a social media communicator, you need a plan.

Your priority should be to get a content planning calendar for your organization. You can easily find a template online or design a calendar that best fits your requirements. With the help of this tool, you can specify the content that needs to be posted across platforms.

Organizations usually plan content at least a month in advance. You can make changes to this calendar based on current events, but you want a schedule for the mid-term future. You can decide the theme of the day or week and plan which type of content should be posted on different platforms throughout the month. This practice makes sure you can regularly post well thought-out content. If you work with a social media team, keeping them in the loop will be much easier.

When you track the performance of social media campaigns, you will get to know when the majority of your audience is online and can post content accordingly. But what if that time slot isn’t during standard business hours and you can’t log in at that particular time? This is when scheduling tools will save you from trouble.

SocialPilot, HootSuite, Post Planner, Feedly, and other similar tools can be used to schedule social media posts for a later date or time. You won’t have to worry about forgetting to post content and the software will take care of this task.

That’s Embarrassing: Don’t Let Your Scheduled Post Land at the Wrong Party

Scheduling social media posts via software can make work easier and boost productivity. However, this method isn’t fool-proof and can lead to embarrassing mistakes if you aren’t cautious.

Some brands become the talk of the town in a negative way when they accidentally post content with unintentional profanities. This mistake can happen when you schedule a post for later without proofreading it. Updating settings for filtering out unethical phrases and words is ideal. Be expansive in thinking about ways that your brand, taglines, or other content could be abused or accidentally misrepresented.

US Airways and a few other businesses caused controversy in the past when they accidentally attached highly explicit images or links to pornographic websites. These mistakes can happen due to minor carelessness, but can attract significant negative publicity which isn’t good.

You don’t want to fall victim to such controversy, so carefully check and recheck posts before you schedule them.

When you manage content for multiple social platforms or working as a social media manager for multiple organization, there is a higher risk of making mistakes. For instance, you may want to schedule a post via software for Instagram, but accidentally do so for another website. While this mistake may not appear significant, it can promote a negative image of your business.

Lastly, create social media posts for prominent occasions, events, and festivals, but make sure you schedule it for the right time and date. What if you create an Instagram post for Halloween, but due to the scheduling mistake, it gets posted a day or two after the holiday? You may become the laughing stock for the audience.

“If This, Then That” Social Media Automation

The “if-then” concept is a basic principle of computer programming where you specify the system to check for the defined condition and execute the specific block of code if it meets the condition. The “IFTTT” platform was developed with the intention to provide similar functionality to social media managers.

This platform allows organizations to create applets for automated content. You can create posts for suitable social media and specify the trigger point. When the specified action is triggered, the post applet will be published.

However, using the IFTTT model may not be your best bet when it comes to comments. Some businesses use bots to post automated comments. These comments don’t only seem fake, but they also create a negative image of the company.

Alternatively, it can be used to improve customer service. For instance, you can use this model with a messaging app to facilitate customers. You can specify answers to most common queries that are frequently asked.

For example, when a customer enquires you about your working hours or the prices of your products, they can receive an automated answer to their query. This practice saves time and provides answers to customers without unnecessary delays.

Although automation can make your job easier to some extent, it never works for communicators to create a post and then forget about it. As a result, it may get published at an inappropriate time and seem irrelevant. You should go through the scheduled content from time to time and tweak posts if needed.

If this then that automates social media posts for promotion purposes, but you can also use it for personal reasons. For instance, you can use this tool to wish colleagues on their birthdays or work anniversaries.

However, this functionality should be used carefully. This tool posts the same content every time an event takes place. In certain cases, this may get out of hand or get noticed for being too impersonal.

When an existing or potential customer messages a brand, they often receive an automated message where they are addressed with their first name. This may cause an embarrassing situation for businesses. A few years ago, a brand used this function on Twitter where they were addressed with their user name. But the user had previously changed their profile name to be a profanity and the tweet made the brand look bad to other users.

In an unforgiveable and horrible example, KFC automated posts encouraging customers to celebrate events on a holiday calendar with a bucket of fried chicken and other food-like products. Unfortunately, not all holidays are happy events. In Germany, the holiday calendar includes Kristallnacht: the anniversary of a specific date in 1938 when Nazis physically attacked Jews, murdered over 90 people, smashed Jewish-owned businesses, and burned hundreds of synagogues to the ground all across Germany. Needless to say, when KFC suggested celebrating Kristallnacht by buying fried chicken, it was an international outrage.

Such events aren’t common and don’t happen too often. But they can lead to an embarrassing situation for your business and may deter the customer base. So, before you opt for the IFTTT model, you should evaluate your decision and come up with suitable content that is less likely to lead to controversy.


Portions of this chapter were adapted from Intro to Social Media by Cheryl Lawson, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Portions of this chapter were adapted from Foundations in Digital Marketing: Building Meaningful Customer Relationships and Engaged Audiences by Rochelle Grayson, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Social Media & Reputation Management Copyright © 2023 by Sam Schechter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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