What does a British comedian with a HBO series covering last week’s news in one hilarious 30-minute segment have to do with the CIA’s voice on social media? We’re glad you asked.
The HBO series, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, aired a segment titled “Better CIA Tweets” that took a closer look at CIA’s humorous Twitter presence, which raised more questions than laughter. To give you context here are a sampling of real tweets issued by the Central Intelligence Agency:
No, we don’t know where Tupac is. #twitterversary
— CIA (@CIA) July 7, 2014
— CIA (@CIA) July 7, 2014
We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.
— CIA (@CIA) June 6, 2014
John Oliver raised some serious questions… What are you doing? Who is this for? Why are you doing it? He went on to say, “Look, CIA, I get you want to be the fun one, but A) you shouldn’t be… and B) you’re not even very good at it.”
The CIA social media team was having difficulty executing the brand’s voice—or even finding the appropriate brand voice. These tweets raise even further questions… should the CIA be humorous on social media? Is the CIA, as a company, humorous at all? How do you want content shared on social platforms from government organizations—or any brand, for that matter?
Defining Voice on Social Media
In the Buffer blog post, “How to Find Your Social Media Marketing Voice,” Kevan Lee identified that voice can draw your audience in or drive them away and gave insight on how to strike the right tone. He identified the difference between voice and tone, especially when it applies to your brand’s content on social.
Voice: Your brand personality described in an adjective. For instance, brands can be lively, positive, cynical, or professional.
Tone: A subset of your brand’s voice. Tone adds specific flavor to your voice based on factors like audience, situation, and channel.
He states, “Voice is a mission statement. Tone is the application of that mission.” Another way to look at it is through Social Media Explorer’s four-part formula in finding your brand’s voice.
Character/persona – Who does your brand sound like?
Tone – What is the general vibe of your brand?
Language – What kind of words do you use in your social media conversations?
Purpose – Why are you on social media in the first place?
Once you answer those questions, Marketing Land encourages you to take a closer look at culture, community, and conversation. These elements further help you when developing a voice for your brand.
Culture: What does your company stand for? What makes you stand out from all the others who are after the same audience? Your unique qualities make your culture special, and they should be used when developing your voice.
Community: Listening can reveal how your community speaks and can help you speak easier with them and to them. You can use their language and meet them on their terms.
Conversation: Personality and authenticity help drive social engagement. What do you want to add to the conversation? As you think about what you can offer, you’ll start to see a better picture of where your voice fits.
Applying Your Social Media Voice
Being true to John Oliver’s own voice and satirical nature, he encouraged Last Week Tonight viewers to craft #betterCIAtweets giving the government organization the comedic material they so desperately needed. Not only did this help to increase John Oliver’s own social media presence and viewership for his show, but it also created a community around a specific conversation—in this instance, making fun of the CIA.
— Last Week Tonight (@LastWeekTonight) July 14, 2014
We see you when you’re sleeping, we know when you’re awake, we know if you’ve been bad or good and its in our database. #BetterCIATweets
— Cory Robinson (@ComicCRob) July 14, 2014
— Rhiannon (@missingachip) July 14, 2014
By analyzing the brand’s voice and exhibiting it correctly across social media platforms, you strengthen the relationship between brand and consumer providing more authentic content that will move your followers to an action. The CIA’s tweets are generally about providing unclassified information from the archives, but the punny sample tweets don’t hit the mark on voice or tone.
Need help managing your brand’s voice on social media? Contact BLASTmedia to craft a social media strategy specific to your brand’s voice.