Graham Jones
12th November 2018 - 5 mins read
A

fter all, I might be saying this with a smile on my face, in a light-hearted way so you’d know that I was mucking about. On the other hand, I might have a stern look, wagging my finger at you and making you realise I was rather forthright about this topic.

The written word can only communicate part of the way. Without vocal tone, facial expressions and body language, it’s all too easy to get the wrong end of the stick when we read something.

These days we write and read more than ever before. Emails, tweets, Facebook posts, blogs—the list goes on. Nowadays, the typical office worker actually writes around 20,000 words a week. That means you are writing the equivalent of a novel every month.

The result is that every office worker will have developed a style of their own; a way of writing that is unique to them. And therein lies the problem for business communication.

It means that the way in which one member of the team writes on social media, for instance, can be vastly different to the style used by another staffer. That leads to inconsistency among the readership and the followers; they are confused about your company’s personality.

Many firms realise this and so they develop a corporate style guide or tone of voice document. And that can often lead to another problem; the company’s communication on social media in particular is no longer human. Corporate style allows things to be consistent but it turns most text into boring, business-speak.

Companies are often afraid that if they allow their style to be more human they’ll be in danger of trivialising themselves on social media. They get a sense of the more human approach devaluing their operation.

These firms worry that you might get maverick behaviour, with staff saying things in all kinds of negative ways on Twitter or Facebook. They don’t want to be like Channel 4, for instance, that Tweeted “BREAKING: It's definitely better to be nice to people and not be a dick. We'll update you as and when we have more on this story.” Or, perhaps, the Tweet from KFC in Australia which said “Something hot and spicy is coming soon” above a picture of a woman looking down at a man’s genital area.




Social media activity like this seems fun and human, but it is the kind of tone of voice that puts off the corporate style police. That, though, is a problem. It means that millions of social media messages are just plain boring. People skim straight past them, meaning they are a complete waste of time for the companies in the first place.

So, is there a way out of this conundrum? How can your company come across as human without people going bananas?

One way is to train people in writing skills. Given that the typical office worker is producing a novel’s worth of material each month, it’s worthwhile taking stock and thinking “are they trained for that?” People get trained in the technical skills of using email, for instance, but how much training do people get for writing? These days, writing is one of the most common activities for office workers and few are trained in this skill.

A key feature of learning to write well is understanding how your material sounds, so that even though the reader cannot see your facial expressions they can still get a jolly good idea of your meaning through the way you use phrases, sentences and punctuation.

Staff that are well-trained in writing are going to be much less likely to make the mistakes of businesses trying—and failing—to strike that human tone on social media. That’s because trained writers tend to stop and think more before they commit finger to keyboard.

It’s also about seeing the reader in your mind’s eye. Professional writers visualise the people for which they are writing, rather than just focusing on the words. Skills like this can be taught and learned and can create a significant advantage on social media. That’s because, with everyone trained, the personality of the company can shine through and the maverick behaviour can be diminished.

Essential to getting it right is understanding your audience very well indeed. Taco Bell, for instance, does this brilliantly. Its social media posts are light, fun and humorous, reflecting the fact that what the company offers is a fast snack that is usually eaten socially.

Similarly, the airline JetBlue manages to strike a good balance between fun and being serious. It doesn’t trivialise air travel but it does emphasise that travelling itself should be fun and enjoyable. Its Twitter feed is consistent in that it contains a sprinkling of humour among the more serious tweets.

Another good example is the bookstore Waterstones. It provides informative social media posts as well as humour and conversation with its followers. It has a consistent tone that is light when needed and serious when talking about something that demands it. In other words, it understands the connection between the topic and the reader very well.

Fundamentally, what these companies share is a solid understanding of their readership. They may well be using trained writers, but their social media posts reveal that they truly understand their audience. You can only write in the right tone if you understand who is going to read your material and their motivations.

For some companies this will mean you can be light, fun and entertaining. For others it will mean that you need to be conversational and witty. And for a few it will mean you need to strike a balance between serious and light. The only “right answer” about tone of voice on the internet is “it depends”. It depends on your product, your sector and your audience. Two things will help you get this working properly—trained writers and a solid, well- researched understanding of your target audience. 


At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or a whitepaper. 

Marketing

5 types of video content to help your business make an impact

Emily Stonham 12th October 2018 — 6 mins read
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ideo content is the perfect way to achieve this. Using videos to interact with your customer shows them the person behind the product, and demonstrates how it could benefit them in real life. After all, the modern customer is busy. And with more content available online than ever, it’s important that your content stands out from the crowd and captures their interest.

Of course, different content will work for different people.  You need to narrow down your audience and figure out exactly what they’re going to be interested in watching. This means profiling your existing customers and talking to people who chose to buy from you, as well as those that chose not to buy from you. Content formats like surveys or social media polls can be really useful for this sort of research.

There are so many types of video content to consider. Here are 5 of our personal favourites for you to consider adding to your content strategy.

Behind the scenes

A video showing the inner workings of your business is a fantastic way to personalise your marketing and build a deeper level of trust with your consumer. If you’re promoting a product, show sneak peeks of how it’s made or a snippet of a brainstorming meeting. If your business offers a service, try filming a set-up before an event or consultation.

Obviously, you don’t have to show the whole thing, but giving your customers a glimpse behind the scenes can help them relate to your business on a more personal level and feel more interested in what you’re offering.

Some of the best behind the scenes video content comes from online brands. Fashion brands are particularly good at using this style on social media to keep their fans excited about upcoming products and collections.

A great example is the printing company Awesome Merchandise, who create personalised merchandise for businesses. They show behind the scenes shots of their machines embroidering and printing, and take a lot of photos off their staff working or on days out. These pieces of content help the customers feel like they’re in the factory or office with the team, and thus feel more connected.

Interviews

On the other end of the spectrum, an interview could be a great piece of content to film. This could be an interview with a team member, to find out more about the business and their day-to-day life. It could be an interview with a key influencer in your industry, perhaps talking about predictions for future trends or technological developments. You could interview customers, your boss or even strangers at a convention or networking event. There are a lot of possibilities with this idea - just figure out what you’d like to communicate, and work backwards from there.

Our sister company, Media First, often uses this video format to create customer testimonial videos such as this one. The benefit of using interviews in your content marketing is that it offers an engaging narrative for consumers, and can showcase different points of view.

Instructional videos

If you’re offering a product, a video detailing how to use it can be really beneficial for customers. Numbered videos can be really helpful e.g. ‘5 ways to use make the most of…’ or ’10 ways XX product can help your team’.

A key benefit of instructional videos is that it can also help to reduce the strain on customer services, sales and support teams. This style of video will often be created to answer a frequently asked question, and thus make the customer experience more pleasant overall.

A great example of this style of content would be makeup gurus, specifically on YouTube. Jeffree Star, a famous fashion influencer and businessman, creates makeup tutorials using his own products and techniques. The overall effect of this is that the customers gain more information about the product and engage more deeply with the brand itself.

Product launch

A great piece of content to create is a video promoting new products or events that your business is launching. A video could include sneak peeks/glimpses of the product, to generate hype around your brand. This could even tie in with other pieces of content, like competitions or give-aways to get more customers excited.

Alternatively, you could create an in-depth piece of content that highlights the key benefits of your new product, and gives the customer a reason to come back to your business.

This is often done really well by game development companies. When new video games are being released, companies often rely on social media hype to get the word out. They’ll post sneak peeks and snippets of game play, all leading up to an elaborate reveal of the game. A great example of this would be the most recent installation of the Super Smash Bros game from Nintendo.

Vlog

This one may be a less popular idea, depending on the industry you work in, but vlogging can be a great way to humanise your business and connect with your customers on a more personal level. A vlog is essentially a video blog. They’re incredibly personal, and are hugely popular on social media.

An example of the crazy hype that these pieces of content can create is the latest trend on YouTube called ‘mukbangs’. A mukbang is an eating show, with the creator simply having a meal and chatting to the audience. This might sound ridiculous if you’ve never seen these - who would sit and just watch someone eat for fun?

Surprisingly, tens of millions of people tune in to watch these on YouTube and Twitch. The appeal is the personal aspect, where the audience feels like they’re having a meal with a friend. Here's an example from a popular creator named Josh Peck.

Mukbangs can be used for marketing new products from fast food companies, like Taco Bell or McDonalds. They may not seem like the most obvious choice for a piece of content, but the cult following that they have online is immense.

Additionally, this type of content can be tailored well to fit most industries - for example ‘a day in the life of a digital marketing apprentice’ or ‘spending the day at a media training course’. They’re personal, fun and tie in well with the previously mentioned idea about a behind-the-scenes video.

Overall

Overall, it’s worth your time considering adding video into your content marketing strategy. It’s modern, engaging and also quite fun to produce. Customers love video content, and it can do incredibly well on social media.

And they don’t need to be long, either. When Thirty Seven launched a printed magazine earlier this year, we created a 15 second looped video to promote it that could be used on Twitter and LinkedIn- take a look at it here.

If you try out any of these ideas for a social media post, feel free to tag us - we’d love to see it.

Thirty Seven offers a huge range of content creation services, and we’d be happy to have a chat about any marketing projects that we could help your business with.

Emily Stonham
7th December 2018 - 5 mins read

Every company wants to be an authority in their sector - those that engage the media usually are

Media First designs and delivers bespoke media and communications courses that use current working journalists, along with PR and communications professionals, to help you get the most from your communications plan.