Finding Your Association’s Social Media Voice

By Audrey Surette • June 3, 2022

When it comes to social media marketing, the first thing most people think of is consumer businesses. Companies like Wendy’s with their fun and engaging Twitter strategy, or Duolingo’s creative TikToks really capture their audience’s imagination with their edgy and trendy campaigns. Associations need to consider the impact social media has and use this mentality to cultivate a presence that resonates with their audiences as well. While associations may have to stick to their mission and audience, there are ways they can differentiate themselves by crafting their messages through tone to leave a lasting mark on their followers.

But you might be saying to yourself, “Why is social media so important for associations?” In short, for member engagement. However, in today’s world, associations are not just posting for their membership — they are posting for whoever happens to stumble on their posts. According to Sprout Social, as of January 2022, there are almost 4 billion people across all social media platforms — that’s a lot of potential members. It makes sense then, that associations should be taking advantage of, and building communities with, social media. 

Why Should Associations Post on Social Media?

Most LinkedIn or Twitter users might recall the moment when they were scrolling away and spotted Google’s Johnny Jones’ post on free snacks and stellar nap pods. The user may think, “Who on Earth is Johnny Jones at Google?” And that’s precisely the point — they don’t know them — but people they know, or share similar interests with, may be acquainted. Therefore, associations should always post with a friendly, inclusive voice to ensure they welcome those outside their following. Additionally, why wouldn’t an association want to impress its membership? As businesses across every industry pivot to a more customer-centric business model, the customer experience should be at the center of every social media strategy. Or in an association’s case, they should adopt a member-centric social media strategy. So, what does member-centricity on social media platforms entail? It may mean leveraging member data to craft relevant and helpful posts for your following. But most importantly, it means posting with a catchy, kind and memorable tone. 

How to Create The Right Tone on Social Media

Associations are not just posting for their members — they are posting for whoever happens to stumble upon their content, so it is important to have creative and compelling content that is welcoming to the reader. If you are thinking about posting technical jargon on social media platforms, don’t. That is unless you want to see a sharp drop in your following. 

Brands should try to follow these steps:

  1. First, the initial few words must be friendly and personable — and don’t forget to add some excitement! There is a social media manager behind your profile — it’s okay to let their personality shine through a little while keeping the voice of the association brand in mind. Try to convey the feeling you want your membership to feel about the post in your tone. Did your association launch a new newsletter that you’re excited about? Open with, “It’s just in!” or “Have you heard?!” or “Hot off the press!”  
  2. Next, incorporate the most important part of your message in a catchy way. Think of it as the title or headline of your post. Why will this newsletter be incredible for your membership? Will it cover everything from SEO to social for your marketing association? Will it empower your association of IT leaders to make data-driven decisions? Say it loud and proud. 
  3. Lastly, when including a call to action at the end of your post, be sure to soften it. And, when sharing actionable content, remind your followers why it helps them. However, it is okay to incorporate a little FOMO, especially when promoting some new marketing content that has you pretty psyched. Use something like “Be sure to click the link to sign up to receive unparalleled marketing tips right to your inbox!” or “Don’t miss out on this opportunity to boost customer experience and ROI — click the link to get on our newsletter list today!” 

It’s critical to add a personal touch to each and every post, but don’t go too far with it or it can cause you to lose credibility with your members — remember that member engagement is the end goal. It can be a balancing act that some find difficult to master, but if you align your content with your branding, and use a few statistics to help guide your content, you are on the right track. 

How do you Tie Your Social Media Voice into Your Branding?

Picture your brand’s color scheme, mission, keywords, value and overall messaging and ask yourself, “Does our social media voice and tone reflect our branding?” If your voice and the things you post on social media don’t align with your brand, then you’re missing the mark with your social media strategy. 

To make sure your social media profiles and posts line up with your brand, make sure you are doing the little things right. Your social media “About Us” section should reflect your brand framework. It should appear as though one of your longtime employees explained your association’s mission to a friendly stranger at a networking event — friendly, approachable, but still entirely professional. 

Also, the tone you use in every post adds up to your “social media voice.” So, if you consistently post with a friendly, welcoming tone, you’ll establish a voice that resonates with your following and potential future followers! The key here is consistency. Tip: It’s vital to incorporate some of your messaging and mission into your posts subtly. While your brand’s framework should be polished and corporate, on social media it should be conversational and approachable.

What Does Proper Tone on Social Media Look Like?

Your social media tone should be a direct reflection of your brand, and it should follow all of your brand guidelines, but that is easier said than done. So what does it look like when it is done correctly? For instance, if you’re posting to an association of gastroenterologists, you may pick adjectives like direct, factual, intelligent, inspiring and trustworthy. How do you establish this voice? Share promising medical studies with statistics and success stories of other doctors within the association and avoid misinformation. 

Suppose your association is composed of young professionals in STEM. In that case, you may also want to be inspirational and factual for these math-minded individuals. Still, you may want to incorporate “inviting” and “energetic” into your social media persona. So, how does this social media persona look in practice? If you’re promoting an event for young professionals in STEM, say something like, “Nine in 10 young professionals say this conference helped expand their skill set and feel more empowered in a new position. Sign up today to network with like-minded individuals in this fast-paced industry!”  

It is important to remember that social media is a mechanism to amplify your branding further as part of a broader advertising strategy, so cohesion is key. From a social media user’s perspective, if your brand’s voice on social media is annoying, rude or dull, your brand is all these things too. On the plus side, if your brand’s social media voice is inviting, energetic and witty, this positively reflects on your overall brand. With this in mind, your social media strategy should be extremely comprehensive and user-centric, as it could allow your brand recognition to skyrocket.