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Megan: Hey guys, thanks for joining the MeetEdgar Webinar today. We are going to get started in a minute here. We are actually coming to you live from Las Vegas. MeetEdgar is on a company retreat this week which is super duper awesome. I get to be joined today by one of our content writers here, Tom VanBuren. We are going to be chatting a lot about brand voice and a bunch of different fun things going on here in a minute, but definitely know that we’ve got all the regular stuff going on. Our customer support agent jess is going to be manning the chat, that’s going to be to the right of your screen. Jump on in there, chat with each other, join the discussion about what you guys are working on in social media, and support the small business community out there.
Megan: She’s available to answer any questions during this time. If you have any feedback at all after the webinar, we always love to hear from you. Definitely feel free to send emails over to firstname.lastname@example.org. It is 11:00 Pacific time, 2:00 Eastern Time so we’re going to go ahead and get started with the webinar. I’m Megan, I do most of these. I’m the onboarding coach here at MeetEdgar, which means I have one of the coolest jobs because I get to help you guys out and make sure that all of your social media marketing is on points you’re developing that strong trust with your followers. I’ll let Tom introduce themselves now before we get started and jump on in.
Tom: All right, thanks Megan. Hi, I’m Tom. I’m a Content writer here at MeetEdgar. I write a lot of our blog posts. I write our newsletter, so special shout-out to your newsletter subscribers out there and yeah, I do a lot of the brand voice guideline stuff. Megan invited me to be here and I’m really excited to talk to you all about it today.
Megan: Cool, thanks Tom. We’re going to go ahead and jump on into some slides here and we’ll get started. Essentially why we want to do this is to really make sure that you guys are set up for success because we know you put so much time and effort into your marketing skills, and one of the things that can really help you shine is to have this consistent brand voice. Let’s lay some groundwork why brand voice is so important. Regardless of the industry that you’re in, establishing a brand voice really means you have to explain who you are. It’s a little different, it’s not exactly what you do or what your product offers, but it’s the traits that define your companies and brands identity.
When you have a brand voice and you’re creating this consistent experience across all the different social media platforms, you’re recognizable to your audience no matter where they are and it builds trust in that experience you’re creating for them on social media. One easy way to look at this and how you can market your company as if you are a marketing person is you don’t necessarily have to have this persona that MeetEdgar is so lucky to have, but how we’ve chatted in the past webinars is it really is all about that human to human connection, that can be so strong and helping to build that know and trust on social media. Tom let’s dive in a little bit here, what is brand voice and why does it matter to someone who’s a content writer yourself?
Tom: I think that you’re absolutely right that whenever we’re talking about brand voice, this is all just to do with your identity. We’re thinking about not just what you’re saying but how you’re saying. Whenever you look at different brands we’re going to look at today, what you’ll see is that a lot of times their actual messaging isn’t that different, maybe their products are a lot alike, maybe their price points are a lot alike, but their tone and their personality is going to be a lot different. That tone and personality it can really be the big difference in getting somebody to be interested and invested and to know and I can trust your brand.
Megan: Nice, that’s so true. Getting that tone right on point is going to really set you apart from your competitors out there and really establish that tribe mentality that works so well on social media. One of the things that we do keep hearing here is how it helps keep it consistent across social media and why that’s important. Tom can you chat a little bit about what guidelines or references or anything that comes up in the sphere for you guys when you’re working on brand voice?
Tom: Yeah, actually I’m really glad that you said guidelines and references because I think that’s one of the most important things that you can create if you want to have a strong voice and personality. It’s going to be really consistent over different types of content that you’re creating. We’re going to look at this in a little bit more detail later on here, but basically a reference guide is just the best way to stay consistent because it keeps track of how you talk about yourself and this is especially important if you’re not the only person writing for your company. I’m not the only person that writes for our company.
If you ever hire someone to write social media updates for you, for example, or hire somebody to write blog posts or a landing page or anything like that, they’re going to have a resource that helps them understand what your brand’s personality is. Whatever they create is going to be consistent with what you have already done and the values that you want to embody.
Megan: Oh gosh that’s so, so true. Those values that your company establishes internally and externally are going to really create that bond with your followers to keep on knowing who you are and have that transparency. That’s awesome advice. One of the things that we’re hearing is about these guidelines, so let’s jump in here. What tips can we have to really make our brand voice stand out when we’re starting to think about what guidelines are going to really establish our brand as different from our competitors or our brand has something that is really strong for our followers to latch onto here.
Tom: Yeah, I really think that a good place to start especially if you’re just thinking about this for the first time, you’re like I don’t really know what my personality should be, I don’t know what my voice should sound like, I don’t know what people are going to be interested in. A great place to start is by looking at other brands in your space and not just looking at what they’re already doing, we’re not talking about copying anybody, but we actually won’t look at what they’re not doing. Brand personality and voice, these are ways to make yourself stand out, so what personality traits do you not see in your industry, where are you seeing opportunities to do something different from the competitors.
Megan: That’s so true and this difference can also produce an authenticity that your followers are craving as well. There’s so much space in social media, there’s so much noise out there on the web today that anything you can do to stand out is going to be so, so powerful. Let’s jump in a little bit here to take a look at a real life example to give some context and quickly see how these personalities difference. Both of these here, the middle finger project and Marie Forleo are websites for people much our viewers here today living the independent entrepreneur lifestyle. There are people who want to be amazed at creating. building and operating their businesses on their own.
Despite the similarities here in the subject matter, these sites have personalities that are distinctly different from each other. One of the really cool awesome tips that you can start out with here is think about adjectives that are really going to match up with your brand. For example, the middle finger project, you might use adjectives to describe this brand as unapologetic, outspoken, sarcastic, audacious, these things out really latch onto the brand personality. Even though Marie Forleo does the exact same thing and i’m helping to build these teams together, they may invoke different descriptions, more like cheerful, goofy, positive inoffensive.
Brand voice really lets people know who you are and what you’re all about and gets that human relationship to your brand. Cool, so going along with this IRL examples is in real life play out of brand voice, another space we can look at is the difference between McDonald’s and Wendy’s. Tom can you talk a little bit about why these differences are there and why they matter on social media?
Tom: Yeah and I bet that this is one that a lot of people will be a little bit familiar with because Wendy’s is always going viral with their funny tweets, their sassy brand personality and it’s a great example of two businesses that do pretty much the exact same thing, they have similar prices all that, but they really differentiate themselves when it comes to that voice and that personality. Wendy’s is known on social media for being snarky. they’re sarcastic. Sometimes they’re even a little bit mean when it comes to their competitors.
Now that’s a real strong choice and it’s not necessarily the right choice for everybody, but it works for Wendy’s and it makes them really stand out as being very different and being very memorable, even though the thing that they offer in terms of product or pricing is functionally very similar to their competitors.
Megan: Nice, that’s so true. That difference is really going to let people know who you are and having these established brand guidelines allows tom was saying anyone in your company to be able to respond to these tweets and match that consistency which is so, so important for your followers to have that relatable experience. Cool. We chat a little bit at the beginning about consistency in your style guide, so let’s jump back into this area a little bit deeper. On the last couple of slides for each of these brands to get their point across and get that recognition right away, they did have to establish these guidelines and it’s something that can be so helpful is to have this established in what we call a social media style guide.
Tom let’s chat a little bit about what a style guide is, why it’s so important for and to be consistent with this brand voice on social media.
Tom: Sure. Now a style guide, this sounds a big project. This probably sounds something that is going to be really annoying to create, but it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be super complicated. Sometimes it could be as simple as that list of adjectives that we looked at before where we’re just saying these are the values that I want to come across in my voice, these are the values that I want my brand to embody.
You can keep it as simple as you want or you can make it as complicated as you want, and we’re going to get into some more details about what our own style guide looks here at MeetEdgar, and you can see the questions that we ask ourselves whenever we’re trying to figure out how to write something and what kind of tone the voice would want to have.
Megan: Awesome, yeah that question thing can be so important in helping you guys as a team come together and have a brainstorm session. Again everyone in your team regardless of if they’re on the marketing team or not should be involved in this and really own it, so this style guide can be really as distributed amongst your team, amongst everyone who’s working on the product. Here Tom was chatting a little bit about the questions that helps us develop our own style guide. If you wanted to reflect on these a little bit Tom when you guys were establishing the MeetEdgar style guide, that’d be awesome.
Tom: Yeah. A lot of this goes back to what I was saying at the beginning about looking at what is missing in your industry and look at what’s missing in your space. An example that you see on this screen is we’re talking about sense of humor on social media and whenever we were starting to figure out MeetEdgar, we decided that we wanted our brand to be fun and have a fun personality. Maybe we tell jokes have a sense of humor about ourselves, but there are questions that come with that too, like what kind of sense of humor, what kind of jokes do we tell, and it doesn’t always have to be this in-depth either.
Sometimes the questions that you need to ask can be really simple, like does our brand use swear words on social media or does it not, what’s the rating of the way that we talk about ourselves, we keep it PG, is it not. There are all kinds of different questions that you can answer and then that’s going to help you hone in on a very specific idea of how you talk about yourselves and what your values are and how those come across in what you’re writing.
Megan: Oh, that’s such great advice here and it’s going to be really, really important for you guys to sit down and answer these questions. Definitely make a note, make a time on your calendar to do this as soon as possible. We want to jump in a little bit here. We have been talking a lot about the tone that you’re talking to, but we also want to make sure you guys know that it can be visual. This here over on the right hand side of your screen, this is a color palette that we use here at MeetEdgar. Not only should your brand be recognized by you the text and the voice that you’re using, but when people see an image on social media, it should be oh I know that color scheme, oh I know that photo and this is so important as well because social media is such a visual space.
People are coming there to take a break from their day, to really make sure that they’re connecting with their friends and family, and a lot of the time they’re not going to take the time to read long status updates if they only have a few minutes on social media. That’s why we chat about how using visuals is so powerful. It takes the brain about six seconds in order to really connect with a visual and that’s going to be a lot quicker than reading something most of the time. Having this consistency in this recognizable, available a color scheme is going to be really cool for you to have that as an established way for people to see and know who you are.
We are lucky enough to have an awesome designer here at MeetEdgar to help keep this consistent, but I also want you guys to know as a small business, as a solopreneur, you can totally do this. There are tools out there Canva, there’s tools out there for stock images that you can gather together and you can edit your photos to have that same consistency. Canva is an awesome tool for you guys to be able to overlay quotes onto a background, stuff like that. Get creative, make sure you’re sticking with it so that when people see that pictures, when people see the words that you’re writing, the font that you’re using, it is always creating that consistency for them to know who your brand is. Cool.
If you are not sure where to start here, let’s chat a little bit about how you can utilize statistics with your brand guidelines. We know that Facebook and Twitter has a wealth of information for us. Twitter analytics and Facebook Insights, if you guys haven’t popped into those, please, please, please do. One of the coolest things to help this guy your style guide is the demographics and lifestyle tabs that these offer. Not only can you find things out about the gender of the majority of your followers, the age range that they are, you can do things find out their interest in TV shows to guide if you should be producing more humorous content or more sports related content.
You can see average income or you can see job titles to know if the language should be speaking more to experts in the industry or those just getting started. The really main thing I want you guys to remember is even though you are establishing your brand and love your product of course, maybe your audience has a little bit of a different tone or a little bit of a different outlook than you do. Make sure you’re speaking to your audience and this is a great, great way to be able to do that. Tom I know you didn’t do this for us a lot too, so you I know prefer to use Facebook Insights doing. That’s what’s one of your favorite things when you’re using Facebook Insights to gather that information.
Tom: Something that I love about Facebook Insights is actually seeing that age ranges and seeing where people are because in my experience. This can sometimes be some of the most surprising information. You might think that you’re talking to one group of people and it turns out that you’re talking to an entirely different group of people. It’s really interesting to just see the raw data and be told who it is that you are actually talking to because sometimes the results aren’t what you expect.
Megan: That’s so awesome. That’s such great advice. Yeah and as every social media network is moving more and more towards engagement, this is a great way to make sure you are staying relatable and making sure that the engagement you’re receiving from your followers is really on brand. Cool. We wanted to also show a little bit about how we listen on social media. Tom I know this Edgar is my boyfriend is something that we hear on Twitter, we hear on Facebook all the time, can you chat a little bit about how this has helped us with our own style guide and brand voice?
Tom: Yeah, and actually this goes really well with what you were just saying about the engagement and listening to and being inspired by your users because this is something that we did not expect to happen. Whenever we launched, Edgar was this beautiful octopus that you see here, but we never anticipated that people would relate to him so much that they would say that Edgar is their boyfriend. This is something that our users start saying to us and saying to each other whenever they were recommending Edgar. We decided to go with it and we created these stickers, we created all kinds of cool swag that says that there is my boyfriend.
We never would have come up with this on our own. Even though we are very creative, we never would have come up with that on our own because we didn’t expect that our users would respond to him this way. Whenever you are paying attention to your users and paying attention to what they’re saying, that can really do a lot to influence your brand personality and lean into the ideas that people are telling you that they like.
Megan: Great, great advice. Make sure you guys are taking notes here, listen to your followers, engage with them. Social media is a 2-way street. We really want to make sure that you guys are responding, ask questions to your followers so you can get all of this great user-generated content to help to develop your style guide. Cool. Jumping in here, we really want to make sure that you guys are knowing what else you guys can empower your team to do, what your social media people are out there chatting. Again this goes along with listen right here in our response to one of our lovely members here. It is right on brand with our quirky, quirky lifestyle. Tom can you chat a little bit about how our style guide helped to create this great interaction with one of our users?
Tom: Yeah, and this goes back to the what we were just talking about with listening to your users and embracing the things that they like or do not like about your brand. We decided very early on that our brand was going to be quirky and funny, but we understood that maybe people wouldn’t that and if they didn’t, we might have had to change directions. If this person had tweeted I hate those quirky emails from MeetEdgar, they’re very annoying and not very funny, then we probably would not have responded this way. We probably would file that away and think about how we want that to influence the brand and whether or not the majority of people feel the same way, but we get an overwhelming amount of feedback that people do our personality.
That’s great and that means that we get to respond in a way that is in line with what they expect our personality to be and what if they have told us that they and we get to just embrace the things that people are telling us, either explicitly or implicitly that they really like about us.
Megan: So, so true. That interaction should be right in line with your style guidelines. Jumping into another example from MeetEdgar here, this is one of our status updates from Facebook, and we share a lot of behind the scenes content and this goes along with that relatability that we go back to you so much in marketing your business with that human touch to it. Tom when you were crafting this status update, can you chat a little bit about how our brand style guideline helped you create this?
Tom: Yeah, especially because there are two things going on here. First of all is that we are sharing some behind-the-scenes content, but then also that we’re sharing it in a way that is not super serious. People have told us that they it whenever we share behind-the-scenes content, they like it whenever we talk about the realities of working from home or having a remote company or having a home office or all of this sort of thing. We could write about all of that stuff in in a way that is very technical and very drying and just very straightforward into the point or we can talk about it in a way that’s funny and self-deprecating and self-aware.
That’s the tone that we go for and this goes back to what we were talking about at the very beginning of this presentation where we said it’s not just what you are talking about, but it’s how you were talking about.
Megan: Cool, such good advice there. Jumping in here a little bit, we like to create really consistent experiences for our members, whether it’s on social media or whether it’s to your products itself and if you guys have an online product or if you have an actual product, these tips here that Tom’s going to chat about are really going to help you either way. I want you to remember consistency matters, not only to build trust with your audience, through the links you’re providing them and clicking on them but once they get to your product too. This here is actually a screen of the MeetEdgar Composer where you guys are adding your social media status updates and all of that.
We of course want to make this a usable experience if anything goes wrong, exactly what you need to change anything at all, so here’s one of our error messages. Tom is a copywriter for both of our social media and in-app messages, so you can you talk a little bit here about why this matters so much as well Tom?
Tom: Yeah. I think one of the important things here is that when people are telling you that they something about you, you can find opportunities all over the place to give them the thing that they. It’s not always going to be appropriate, for example, for us to work in a quick joke or to be cute or funny or anything that, but there are lots of opportunities to do that and you’re going to see examples of our brand voice on really unexpected places, maybe our about page or our careers page or in our job listings. These are places where that stuff doesn’t have to exist.
We could very easily just write a normal-looking about page or a normal-looking 404 page, but we’re able to use that as an opportunity to keep our voice consistent and just have it permeate all aspects of our business. There are all kinds of opportunities that you can look for outside of just what you’re putting on social media or what putting in an email.
Megan: Oh, so true. You guys have hooked your followers on social media for a reason with your brand voice, so make sure that brand voice matters in that app as well. Cool. Another idea that we wanted to get across here as starting to wrap up is that your brand’s social media voice doesn’t manifest by accident. It’s a result of all of your careful planning and deliberate decisions. Any other form of marketing, your social media voice should cater to the specific audience that you want to appeal to the most. Another great thing I want to throw out there is think about the values in your company, what values does your internal team play to.
Here at MeetEdgar, kindness and value and really making sure that we’re showing up for our members in a way that we’re owning the experience or things that we to chat about internally, but this also leads to us being able to have that established as part of our style guide too. We always want to be kind to our community and we always want to make sure that we’re offering the most value possible. These things that you are establishing internally should be shared with your community to humanize it and really be a part of your style guide. Guys again we really appreciate you joining these webinars and chatting with us, but I really want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of this.
Take some action today to try this, analyze your Facebook and Twitter insights, develop your style guidelines, and really start to filter every update you’re adding to your meet Edgar library through this style guide and you can start to see the difference of how this helps your followers connect with you on social media and anything that you can do to make sure you’re realizing that your style guide is a living document. The sooner you can get started now, it gives you more time to iterate on this in the future, listening to your followers as your brand starts to change, as your product starts to change. Keep this in a shared Google Doc, a shared Evernote whatever product you’re using, so your whole team knows what you’re all about.
Jumping in here a little bit as well to the MeetEdgar tool, if you guys have a MeetEdgar account, you’ll recognize this as our categories. If you don’t have an Edgar account yet, Edgar does something cool where how we schedule your updates is on a category based system which really allows you to get a nice robust posting schedule out there to your followers. These are the categories that come predetermined in Edgar, but what you can do as you start to develop your style guidelines is edit these categories or add different categories to match what your brand guidelines are telling you. This way using a scheduler and an automation for your social media allows you to get into this creative head space.
Without your style guide, sit down and make sure that every update you’re adding that’s a blog post has commentary that matches your style guideline, every quote you’re adding it has something that speaks your style guideline. If you’re doing memes, you can come up with that consistent color, you can come up with if you’re doing anything funny, stuff like that. It really allows you to batch out your day so you’re not task switching and having to think wait a minute does this match my style guidelines. You can have that hour block out or you have it there and you’re adding your updates to your MeetEdgar library and every category is going to be consistent producing that great, great know I can trust factor no matter what status update it’s coming from or what network they’re going to.
Guys like I said, we love when you come to these live, we love chatting with the community. If you are here live today, email supportatmeetedgar.com and we’ll get you some swag. We want to make sure that you guys are owning this experience, so also email us any feedback about this webinar, anything you want to learn about in the future. If you’re not an Edgar user yet, we’d love to help make sure about all of this awesome advice you’re getting with the brand voice from Tom today is put to good use in your Edgar account. Go ahead and if you’d to sign up for one, we’d love to get you a free month so make sure it is the right tool for you.
Go to meetedgar.com and you can use this octopus webinar 18 for a coupon code to get a free month. If you’ve any trouble at all, please reach out to us, we love chatting with the community. Like I said, let us know what else you’d to hear from on future webinars, comment in the comment section below any feedback that you do have. Thanks for joining us. Like I said, Tom and I are on a retreat with MeetEdgar here on Las Vegas this week, so we are excited about all of the new features that we’re creating, all of the new brand guidelines that were chatting about years, so we’ll make sure to keep you guys updated as well.
Tom: Thanks a lot for having me on Megan and thanks a lot to everybody who tuned in lives.
Megan: Cool guys, we’ll see you next time.
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