Think about some of your favorite brands that you follow online. What makes you want to read their latest blog posts or take part in their social media contests? I'm guessing it's because these brands are conversational and are finding a way to inject humor and personality into their marketing efforts, right?
Too many businesses get caught up in trying to sound too professional and end up coming across as a stuffy schoolmaster rather than an engaging brand that people want to do business with. While some brands struggle with being too one-sided and turn their blog posts, brochures, and website into a sales pitch, other businesses try to appeal to their entire audience, which is not good either.
If you really want to write conversational content, you need to make your readers feel like you're talking with them, not at them. You want to engage your readers and pull them into the conversation. Surprisingly, it's actually easier to write a blog post that sounds more like an academic essay than an casual conversation between friends.
Here are some helpful pointers to keep in mind if your branding goal is to make your content more conversational and personal for your audience:
Eliminate the Passive Voice
Rather than being passive and saying, "Your comments will be addressed within 24 hours," write in an active voice and say, "I'll be sure to respond to your comments shortly." Both sentences essentially say the same thing, but using an active voice will really help to make your content sound more conversational and less like a robot.
Keep it Simple
Yes, we all have a tendency to want to sound smart and show off our vocabularies; however, you're setting yourself up to lose a bulk of your readers if you do this. Instead, make a point to keep things simple and choose words that your audience won't have to pull out their dictionaries for to digest the content. Another way that you can keep things simple and create a conversational tone is to use contractions (they're, we're, her's, etc). This is a much casual and informal writing style that will help to put your audience at ease.
Take the Focus Off of You
Think about some of the people that you enjoy talking to the most. I'm guessing they all have one thing in common: they ask plenty of questions about you. Most people you're talking to probably don't want to hear all about you and your business; instead, they are more interested in how you and your business can help them accomplish their goals. To hold yourself accountable to writing content that is not one-sided (all about you and your business), make it a point to count the number of times that you've used the word "you" in your content when proofreading it. If you find that the word "you" is hard to come by, it's probably not very conversational.
Who is Mastering Conversational Branding?
Whole Foods is a company that really embraces conversational branding. They understand the benefits that two-way conversation can have for their business. Understanding that people love to tweet images of incredible dishes, Whole Foods is incredibly responsive to customers that take the time to tweet the company. Also, the brand's responses to tweets sound more like they came from a good friend rather than corporate headquarters.
Another stellar example is Sharpie. You wouldn't think a company that makes permanent markers and pens could have an incredibly conversational and creative blog, but it does. Sharpie uses its blog to share the amazing stuff that its customers do with its products. Instead of using branding as an opportunity to sell its products, Sharpie uses its blog to empower actual customers to sell what its products can do. This unique approach opens up the conversation and really encourages the audience to engage with the content.
There is a striking difference between those businesses that use branding to position themselves as one-sided and those that make an effort to be conversational and take a genuine interest in the reader. If your overall goal is to create content that helps your consumers identify with your brand, taking a page out of Whole Foods or Sharpie's book and making your blog, sales literature, and web page content conversational is a winning strategy.