While we’re on the subject of tone of voice, I’d like to add an interesting perspective about the different ‘tones of voice’ used in online environments, specifically, social media.

I went to a local online marketing event and listened to an engaging speaker, Chris Bjorkland, talk about the fact that if you ‘spoke to people like you advertise, you’d be punched in the face’. This statement, while obnoxious, could not be more true for social media.

I believe not truly understanding the need to adapt ‘tone of voice’ to the social media arena is the death of many companies who are trying to enter this must-be-entered online world.

Social media, for now at least, is an environment where users feel like they’re not being advertised to. This is why a company can be highly successful if they can manage it correctly. Joining a company’s fan page after noticing all your other friends are fans, is not advertising (or so we all think). Advertising takes on a very different form in the social media realm.

In a social media environment, selling is about chatting. No-one has conversations via Facebook or Twitter (and it’s just not possible in 140 characters!) It’s about delivering ‘bites’ of information that engages your followers and fans. They need to get the message, quickly, and be confident about engaging with it.

If you have your own personal Twitter or Facebook page, treat it like you would your own status updates (although maybe not some of the more mundane ‘I just ate toast’ ones). Examples?

‘About to unpack the new Spring stock – exciting :)’

‘Only 5 seats left for tour – wait, make that 4’

‘Just tasted 2009’s chardonnay – first pour = fantastic!’

Whilst copy writers around the country cringe at the demise of the English language, unfortunately, like any copy writing, you have to embrace the medium. Otherwise, you may just get punched in the face!