Why 2013 should be the year you think ‘tone of voice’

This post was originally published on the Web Managers Group site.

As web managers we have a lot to think about, don’t we?

Can people find our content? Does the technology work properly? Are we pleasing our stakeholders? Are there any broken links? Should we be doing more video?… the list is endless.

But I’d like to propose you focus on an oft-forgotten area as a matter of urgency in 2013: tone of voice.


There are many outsiders who scoff at those three words, likening it to the umbrella that the barman adds to the cocktail glass – pretty, but ultimately just decorative. The bit that gets added at the end, almost as an afterthought.

Oh, how wrong they are. If you’ll allow me to continue with the cocktail analogy, tone of voice is the usually-unseen ingredient that turns a bit of alcohol, ice and fruit into something so addictive that you keep wanting to come back for more.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that tone of voice is possibly the most important element of your website and YOU ARE THE GUARDIANS!
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When did everyone become a content strategy expert?

There was a great link going round last week to a presentation called: Crap – the content marketing deluge.

The basic message behind the very clever and funny slideshow is that suddenly everyone involved in marketing has woken up to the concept of ‘content’ and how important it is to produce – thus making your (the expert in content and content strategy) job twice, or possibly 100 times as hard: to get cut-through.

‘Endorse me’

In a related area, I’ve noticed that the new ‘endorse’ feature within LinkedIn becoming more and more popular.

Members write down their supposed areas of expertise and connections ‘endorse’ that skill.

The interesting thing I’ve spotted is that almost everyone seems to have suddenly become skilled in content strategy.

Let me first point out that – although content is my day-to-day job – I don’t consider myself a major authority in content strategy.

However, my years in magazines and subsequent experience online have given me a fairly good grasp of the area.

Content bandwagon

I’m not doubting everyone I know or who have worked with previously, but it’s fairly clear – from where I’m sitting – that this is a bandwagon everyone seems to be jumping on.
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Has quality content had its day?

Demand Media operates based on a simple formula for success on the Web: create a ton of niche, mostly uninspired content targeted to search engines, then make it viral through social software.

If other companies take up the model of Demand Media, then we could see the death of old-fashioned, quality content.

Why must quality always win out over quantity?