Content Marketing Blog

Why finding the right tone is crucial for content marketing

If you’re wanting to connect with your target audience through online content, it’s important for your brand to find the right tone.

If you’re trying to sell yourself as reliable and trustworthy industry-leaders, it may be best to adopt a more formal and serious tone. While if you want to come across as quirky, fun and relatable, a light-hearted and upbeat approach would do your brand justice.

Unless you want your content to be like that smiling, waving, overly-optimistic friend you have to face when you just found out your childhood dog died, having the right tone at the right time determines whether or not your content is loved or hated.

In fact, a recent study by Columbia Business School has revealed that television advertisements that fail to get the emotional tone right have less of an impact on consumers.

The study analysed how consumer’s emotions correlate with the energy levels of advertisements on TV.

“When you feel low or sad, ads that are high energy are difficult to watch,” Columbia Business School Professor of marketing Keith Wilcox said, “So you spend less time watching, and the ad is less effective.”

The affect an ad has on the consumer’s emotional level, which Wilcox has labelled as “activation”, is more than simply experiencing positive or negative emotions. While happiness is classed as activating and sadness deactivating, anger for instance also results in a high level of emotion.

In one of the six studies the researchers carried out, they got 142 people to view one of two short clips from a movie, one a rather depressing scene from the 1970’s film “The Champ”, the other an extract from a documentary on Albert Einstein’s life.

Then respondents were shown either a highly energetic thirty second advertisement or a moderately energetic one.

Viewers of the sad clip from “The Champ” who were feeling emotion brought on by the sad content paid much less attention to the highly energetic advertisement than those who had watched the Einstein clip.

In fact, over the course of the six studies, researchers found consumers experiencing this deactivating emotion respond 50 percent more favourably to moderately energetic ads than to high energy ads.

Of course, the best way to get your head around the right tone for your brand is to look at the wants and needs of your target audience. Are they more likely to prefer funny jokes or professional advice?

It may also be worth considering if the tone of your content is consistent across multiple channels. For instance, is the content on your Facebook page aligned with the content on your blog or landing pages?

Posted by Dylan Brown

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