Writing

Voice and tone

Our brand tenets further inform our voice and how we communicate.

Unexpected

What we mean by unexpected

Sprout's experience means we've been around long enough to have grown beyond the typical. As a Luminary, we must be extraordinary. To inspire our audience to look at their situation in a new way. To see social differently. We do that through taking risks, surprising and delighting, and stepping outside the norms of our industry when it comes to the way we deliver a message.

What we don't mean by unexpected

We don't mean abrupt or unplanned. Our choices are never reckless or accidental. Everything we do is done with intention—always weighing the risks and possibilities. We avoid statements that violate social norms, recklessly push boundaries or revolve around gimmicks, schemes or tricks. We do not want to be known as infamous or shameless.

Examples

don't

Social listening insights are business-critical.

don't

If you're not using social listening insights, your business will never succeed.

do

Social listening insights are non-negotiable for businesses looking to gain a competitive advantage.

Tips for unexpected writing

  • Be transparent and upfront

    • Share thoughts you think your audience would appreciate because they 're not shared often enough, even if they're less conventional ways to communicate in our space.
  • Avoid jargon

    • Overused language often goes unheard. Focus on the value of the point you're trying to make.
    • Explore synonyms for typical words.
  • Break the fourth wall

    • Find ways to connect with people directly when they may not expect it.

What to avoid

  • Making claims without proof
    • NO: Enterprise brands love Sprout more than competitors.
    • YES: 7 out of 10 enterprise brands choose Sprout over competing platforms.
  • Directly attacking competitors
    • Do not belittle other solutions or users who choose alternative solutions.
  • Making statements for the sake of being trendy or to be shocking

Where to lead with unexpected

  • Email
  • Ads
  • Social media
  • Landing pages
  • Speaking engagements
  • Executive communications and thought leadership

Mastery

What we mean by mastery

At Sprout, we showcase mastery in both our product and brand. This presents as a deep comprehension of our product, industry and customers.

When displaying mastery, we find the balance between knowledge and superiority. We never want to come off as patronizing or pompous. We know that our users and readers are also masters of their field, so we avoid hand-holding or being preachy.

Examples

don't

We think that AI technology can transform social media.

don't

Everyone knows that AI technology is transforming social media.

do

AI technology is transforming social media.

Tips for writing with mastery

  • Know when to be humble

    • Don't purport to know everything
    • Focus more on our broader customers/industry than our product/brand
    • Ask questions to confirm our assumptions
      • Ex: Is your team struggling to use your social media management software?
      • Ex: Do you need a faster way to gather listening insights?
  • Assume intelligence, but not knowledge

    • Explain product and industry jargon, abbreviations and acronyms
  • Use active voice and lead with active verbs as often as possible

  • Be direct and confident

    • Avoid hedge words like “maybe,” “possibly,” “potentially,” “can,” etc.
      • Don't say: Sprout can help you __.
      • Instead say: Sprout helps you __.
  • Be concise (see intentional)

    • Omit needless words. Don't say in ten words what you can say in two.

What to avoid

  • Condescending words/phrases like “actually,” “Everyone knows,” “just,” “never,” “always,” etc.
  • Long and or complex words and sentences
  • Multiple words with the same meaning
  • Unnecessary modifiers
  • Clunky common expressions or clichés

Where to lead with mastery

  • Blog articles
  • Case studies
  • Product announcements
  • Product education
  • Guides
  • Press releases
  • Web copy
  • Product video scripts

Relatable

What we mean by Relatable

We’re relatable because we’ve been where our audience is and where they’re going. Our breadth of experience is what gives us the unique position to be relatable and aspirational at once, and we should make the most of that.

We’re the authority that can speak to every level of professional. When we communicate, our audience feels like we’re a brand who “just gets it.” We connect with our readers through personal stories and industry specific examples. We make our readers feel seen by speaking directly to them with words that they use everyday.

Examples

don't

We're currently experiencing a major breakthrough in AI that will revolutionize software development more than any other shift in the past.

don't

Right now, we're making big changes to how computers work using something called AI. It's going to make software even better than before!

do

We’re in a new era. Software is going through its most dramatic AI shift.

Tips for writing with relatability

  • Be conversational
    • Use familiar language and points to make a message memorable to users
  • Evoke emotion
    • Get deep into the wants and needs of customers. Talk about pain points, talk about motivations.
  • Ask questions
    • Validate customers’ point of view by asking questions and keeping them engaged

What to avoid

  • Too much self-deprecation undercuts your authority (see mastery)
  • Don’t use conversational writing to drag a point on. Make a message resonate with users without centering yourself or Sprout (see intentional)

Where to lead with relatability

  • Social content
  • Employer brand content
  • Product education
  • Editorial, thought leadership blog articles (balance with mastery)
  • Speaking engagements

Intentional

What we mean by intentional

Intention is the balance to our tenets. Intentionality when paired with unexpected or mastery means we are a business that knows what risks are worth taking. We’re concise, focused and thoughtful—we care about how every word is perceived by our audience.

Tips for writing intentionally

  • Be honest
    • Say what you mean, how you would say it in a real conversation
  • Keep it concise
    • Few words, big feels. Focus on the value of your message, rather than how you think it should be said.
  • Know the rules to break the rules
    • Be consistent. We can stray from ground rules, but we always do it with purpose.

What to avoid

  • Avoid jargon and marketing cliches, consider what you really mean to say.
  • Omit needless words. Don’t say in ten words what you can say in two.
  • Eliminate -ly words from statements, they water down your message (actually, really, simply, etc)

Where to lead with intentionality

Intentionality is what balances all of our brand tenets. There aren’t specific content types where intentionality is a leading tone, it comes through in the confidence and the polish of everything we’ll create.