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Tone of voice: how to craft the right message with or without AI

Headshot of Todd Kamp

Todd Kamp

Content writer

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6 May 2022
6 min read

Tone of voice can be tricky. For your messaging to reach the right audience in a way that’s appealing and hopefully engaging, you need to ensure the tone of voice you’re using matches the situation at hand. 

And we’ve all been there. You type an email or send a text with a simple “Sounds good.” You have all the best intentions in the world, but it comes off as cold and distant, and sometimes, rude. After that, you’re drowning signoffs with exclamation points, adding clarifying sentences, and maybe opting not to send a response at all.

If you’re a business or organization that reaches out to consumers or staff members, this type of fear should never have to cross your mind. You have way more important things to worry about.

So, what to do? 

Start with these 4 easy steps to ensure your messages never get lost in translation.

 

1. Identify and segment contact lists

It may seem like an obvious first step, but many companies send messages en masse to everyone that’s opted-in for their communications, regardless of intent or the capabilities of their communication tool. But, with engagement moving to a much more personalized approach, your messaging should, too.

Ideally, you want to utilize a robust customer relationship management tool (CRM) that allows you to segment contacts based on interest, source, lead score, engagement, and more. With your contacts identified, messages can focus on relevant tones, such as energetically announcing sales, professionally communicating product updates, empathetically responding to customer needs, and so on.  

2. Provide more options

As they say, variety is the spice of life. Unlike all those futuristic sci-fi films where we’re all wearing the same silver suit, the modern consumer wants options – and lots of them. Not only does this fuel their drive for individuality, it also gives you more avenues to create conversion. Win-win.

So, when asking visitors to opt-in for communications, offer multiple ways for them to do so. This may include:

  • Sales and product offerings based on previous purchases

  • Upcoming “exclusive” promotions

  • Company and brand updates

  • Loyalty programs for brand ambassadorship

  • Recurring newsletters to keep you top of mind

  • Location-specific events 

By offering more ways to curate their interactions with you, you can better ensure people are more likely to remain opted-in and take the desired action. But don’t go overboard. Balance is key.  

3. Curate by platform

If you’ve been on the internet long enough, you’re probably familiar with at least the major 5 social media platforms: Facebook (now Meta), Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok. Yes, TikTok. And, if you’re familiar with these platforms, then you know each one of them demands a different approach to one and two-way communication.

 

Meta (formerly Facebook)

Now considered the elder of the social platforms, when communicating across Meta, you’ll want to take on a corporate identity that doesn’t ruffle too many feathers. Simple and informative and without too much fluff should do the job. Think of it as more of a “Hi” or “Hello” approach and less of a “Hey” or “What’s up?”

Even though it’s seen as an older platform, you should still definitely be investing time here, as Meta commands 73.44% of the web traffic referrals from social media. (Global Statshot Report-April 2022, we are social/Hootsuite)

 

Twitter

When it comes to Twitter, you’ll want to engage with users fast and be ready to think on your feet. For a good example of how brands use Twitter to engage their ever-youthful audience, look to Wendy’s fast-food chain account.

With the expectation to respond quickly and engage in public discourse (no matter how unassuming the post appears), this is where brands can have a two-way communication like they’re in the same room with their consumers.

Also, males make up about 71.2% of Twitter’s total platform users, so do with that what you will. (Global Statshot Report-April 2022, we are social/Hootsuite)

 

Instagram

As a Meta brand, Instagram is used in roughly the same way, but can best be described as a blend of Meta and Twitter. Since you’re relaying info via imagery (and their much more popular Instagram Stories), you’ll want to keep copy limited and straight to the point. In fact, Instagram doesn’t even allow URLs in the text field, so you’ll either need to link to your site in your profile bio or use relevant hashtags to get eyes on your brand.

And, as always, an image is worth a thousand words.

 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the office water cooler. It’s best to keep things professional, but noteworthy. Leverage this platform for professional blogs, articles, good press, and making new connections. Like a good resume, a little personality goes a long way, but people are here to get things done and make decisions that benefit them.

 

TikTok

Have you ever been to a stand-up comedy show? That’s TikTok. Ever seen a TED Talk? That’s also TikTok. This is the platform of choice for a wide range of users. This should make it hard to narrow down your tone, but luckily the platform uses what it calls a “For You Page.” This is a curated video feed that only shows users creators based on their ‘likes’ and viewing history. So, if there’s an audience for you, TikTok will find them and show them your work.

Here, the sky is the limit. Much like Twitter, users expect to be entertained. They want to get all the info they need without a lot of buildup or research required. So, be blunt. Be playful. Be the brand your marketing team has always wanted you to be.

 

4. Optimize and refine

Now, we can’t stress this last part enough. Always make sure to keep an eye on incoming data and analytics. A communication tool worth its weight will include timely, actionable insights that you can use to refine your tactics, including:

  • Which contacts have gone cold

  • Which campaigns have gained traction

  • Where most of your responses are coming from (email, SMS, social, etc.)

  • What time of day works best for high engagement

  • Whether your demographic skews older, younger, wealthier, etc.

  • How quickly messages were received AND how quickly they were opened

  • And much more

Even if you don’t have a lot of data to leverage, the most basic of information can help you narrow down your path to more conversions, ensuring that recipients are enjoying a personalized outreach that meets their specific needs.

Where there’s a Whispir, there’s a way

While it’s worth your time to familiarize yourself with the tactics above, there are marketing communication tools that can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you – or at least get you much closer to truly custom, personalized engagements.

 

Hey, watch your tone.

Whispir's Tone of Voice tool is a piece of automated communication software that uses a sophisticated AI writer to pair intent with the intended audience. I.e., a privacy policy update shouldn’t come with a lot of exclamation points.

Using the appropriate tone of voice ensures you get off on the right foot. Remember the fear of sending a rude message at the beginning of this blog? The Tone of Voice tool was built to avoid that.

Currently, our communication software allows you to convey tones including joyful, warm, surprised, angry, fearful, and sad. Best of all, the tool will guide your content in real-time so you can adjust on the fly before hitting send.

They shoot, they score!

With Whispir’s Engagement Scores, you get all your important data in one consolidated location. Even better, it’s all in real-time.

With Engagement Scores, you can understand how individual recipients chose to interact with (or ignore) your messages, receive delivery confirmations to justify your ROI, as well as see all read receipts and responses when there’s a crisis or public safety event. With this sophisticated communication tool, we’ll also keep records of all your correspondence so you can stay compliant come audit time.

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