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The Importance of Voice in Your Content

By Jackson Wightman

“It’s mostly tha’ voice that gets you up,
Mostly tha’ voice that makes you buck,
A lot of rappers got flava and some got skillz,
But if your voice ain’t dope than you need to chill.”
(Guru of Gangstarr, “Mostly tha voice” off the Hard to Earn album)

You’ve heard about how content is powerful. You’ve been told ad nauseum to create unique and “remarkable” content that can spread. Not the most helpful advice in the world, is it?

In fact, saying “Be remarkable!” is kinda like saying “Play well!” to a professional athlete looking to up their game, or “Be hot!” to an aspiring model.

So, rather than tell you that the content you create needs to be great, I am here to tell you that Guru was right—it is indeed mostly the voice that matters.

What does that mean?

It means that you, dear organization, need to think long and hard about the tone of the content you create, because tone is the key factor in how what you create is digested.

Three simple points are worth noting:
Your brand will be a big determinant of the voice. Fairly obvious, but understand that various brands have adopted slightly different voices successfully in social media (think about Burger King’s “Sacrifice Your Friends for a Whopper” campaign a few years back).
Voice may change depending on what spaces/media you are creating content for. LinkedIn, for instance, might require a different voice due to the professional nature of the network. In the same vein, the tone of a video blog post is likely to be received differently by the audience than a text-only post.
Voice will change based on what segment of your community the content is aimed at. Coke creates different content for 15-year-old girls than it does for dudes like me. Easy to grasp, right?

So why, oh why, do organizations forget to focus on the voice of their content?

The answer resides in the relative recency of the organization as a publisher. We’re still figuring this out, and questions today seem to relate mostly to spaces, not voice. While it’s important to think about spaces today, voice is equally important.

I’m glad you understand the value a Facebook page can bring to your organization. It’s great that you’ve figured out a way for Twitter to drive business, or to use Tumblr to bolster KPIs.

But please, don’t stop there.

You have to answer the questions that naturally flow out of the three points mentioned above:
1. When creating content, is the voice of the brand congruent?
2. Are the voice and space well matched?
3. Do the voice and the target segment jibe?

Take a lesson from Guru: voice matters. In fact, it probably deserves more attention than you’re giving it.

Jackson Wightman blogs on Communications and indulges a bizarre love of communist art at Proper Propaganda. He is also Director of Communications for CauseForce, Contributing Editor at PR Daily and sweeps floors at his girlfriend’s shop, FAIT ICI.

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