How to Create a Voice Guide

What happens when you have a conservative company, thought by many as old-fashioned, trying to embrace social media in new, creative ways? With the right tools, a recipe for success!

Last week, I attended a Social Media Club of Kansas City professional luncheon with UMB Bank, a financial institution founded in 1913, and DEG, a digital marketing agency. Together, they gave insight into their creation of a Voice Guide for UMB and explained how a corporate and agency relationship can work well together.

Prior to working with DEG on social media, UMB did have a social media presence, but wanted (and knew they should) do more. DEG stepped in to help UMB push its social media boundaries, while staying true to the bank’s brand identity. This is where the creation of a Voice Guide is necessary.

So what is a Voice Guide?

A Voice Guide is a living strategy document that serves as a structure for how to create branded content on social media, while also responding to customers who engage on social media sites. It allows everyone who uses social media on behalf of a brand to sound the same.

Why is this tool so essential?

Since social media is a 24-hour job, there will be sick days, vacations or turnovers when your typical social media manager is unable to regulate the sites. The Voice Guide not only ensures that everyone who is posting on behalf of the brand continues to sound like the brand, but it also serves as a roadmap for those who may take control of a social media site for another person, without skipping a beat. A Voice Guide assures that customers will never know the difference between multiple people posting on the same company social media profile.

How do I get started?

First and foremost, you need to establish your brand’s goals on social media. UMB’s, for example, was to humanize the company. To achieve this, UMB wanted to provide education through its posts to establish trust and become looked upon as a resource in the community.

Next, determine your brand’s identity. Once you know who your brand is, you are ready to find your voice.

To create your Voice Guide, answer these questions:

  1. What your brand’s purpose on social media? Is it to educate like UMB, inform or something else?
  2. Who is your social audience? What do these people look like, talk like, dress like, etc?
  3. Explore your brand’s personality and tone for social media – if your brand was a person, how would that person talk?
  4. What are some examples of how your brand would or would not approach different content topics that align with your purpose?

Other pieces to include in your Voice Guide:

  • The Dos and Don’ts for reactive responses. Keep a bank of how you’ve responded to certain customer questions on social media and compose responses to questions that could come up in the future.
  • Channel specific characteristics including:
    • What social media sites your brand uses
    • The frequency that you post on these sites
    • The type of content you post on each site

A Voice Guide is a valuable tool that takes time to create, but is worth the investment. If your social media manager is the only person who has the bulk of the information regarding your social media strategy for your company, it’s not job security for that manager; it’s a problem. A Voice Guide fixes that problem.

UMB and DEG continue their relationship, and whether it’s UMB’s internal employees or DEG’s agency team posting on behalf of UMB, the customers never know the difference. That’s all thanks to the Voice Guide.

As AWG retailers’ in-house agency, we’re happy to help you establish your brand identity or social media voice.

Why do I work at AWG? “I work with an amazing team that values creativity and innovation. I enjoy tackling new opportunities and challenges each day that, of course, always involve food!” -Cara