Social Media Style Guide – 8 Must Haves

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Successfully using social media for your business usually requires a variety of ideas, and a mixture of people bringing those ideas to life and having a social media style guide is a guaranteed way to ensure your team members are on the same page.

For the brands doing social media right, their common denominator is consistency, and that doesn’t just happen.

They’ve spent time planning out intentional content and creating a cohesive presence online to avoid confusion and mishaps, and chances are, they used a style guide.

A social media style guide can be an essential tool and has several benefits. We’ve listed a few below: 

  1. Helps When Planning Content – Your style guide should not be confused with your social media strategy. The style guide is how your brand will look and function on social media. It takes the guesswork out of how you create and post content. 
  2. Quickly On-Board New Employees – Before posting to social media and creating content, new team members should first read your style guide to understand how to embody your brand. If done right, the guide will instill confidence and prepare them for anything.
  3. Cuts Down On Error – When your team knows what to say and how to say it, there is less room for mistakes. When your brand goals and beliefs are clearly defined, it makes it easy to know whether or not to engage with certain content or trends and how you should respond during a crisis.  
  4. Build Credibility – The more you create consistent content aligned with your brand, beliefs, or values, the more you build trust with your audience. 

Style guides are not one size fits all. Every company’s style guide will be unique, but there are eight essential things you need to outline when developing one. 

 

List all of Your Accounts

First things first, list all your accounts. 

What platforms are you using to push your social media content, and what are their handles? Be sure to include every account you own, not just your primary account. 

Whether you have an account on Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, or Facebook, make sure you list them all. Visually laying out all your accounts is also an excellent way to see how you are choosing names for your profiles. From here, you can also develop a guide for creating new profile names when needed.

Why Are You Here?

Now that you know what accounts and platforms you are posting from, you need to define your reason for being on social media. What are your objectives? 

If you’re confused and not sure where to start, some common objects are:

  • To reach new audiences
  • Convert new customers
  • Retain existing customers.

Your objectives can change over time, but defining these before creating content will make it easier for your team. 

Define Your Voice

Every time you post on social media, respond to comments, launch an advertising campaign, or even update your website copy, you are using your brand voice. 

Think of your brand voice as audio of your logo. Your logo doesn’t have several designs. It has a distinct design that everyone can recognize, and that is how your brand voice on social media should be. 

It makes it easier when everyone is on the same page and knows how your brand communicates, tweets, and posts.

An excellent way to define your voice is to reinforce your company values and beliefs and to think about how you want customers to perceive your brand. Do you want to be funny? Informative? Casual? Upbeat? Formal?

Your brand voice can be challenging to define, but maintaining a consistent voice across all platforms will help create a positive experience for your audience and go a long way in building credibility.

What’s Your Post Formatting

Define the specifics of how your brand shares links, status updates, videos, and more.

Social media can be a crowded place, and creating a strategy around formatting will help you stand out. 

Posting format can be as simple as asking yourself the following: 

Do you always need to include an emoji on your post? Do you only want to share original content, or are you okay with sharing content from other sources? How often do you want to post a week? What type of content will you share?

Some brands even include initials of who is responding to comments. It lets people know who they are chatting with and brings a feel of transparency to your page.

These things may seem small, but defining your posting format will streamline the process of your team sharing content.

Use Consistent Grammar & Terminology

If you already have a grammar guideline or standard for your business, utilize this in your social media style guide. Your social media post should include proper grammar and display a level of unity across every post.  

For example, does your brand use contractions or long-form text on your website and press releases? Chances are you will need to follow that same standard on social media. Do keep in mind the character limits on some platforms, so you may need to clearly define exceptions when it comes to your communication standard on social media.

This includes defining when you can use jargon, acronyms, and even how you want to refer to customers. 

Hashtag Rules

Hashtags help improve the searchability of your content, boost impressions, and encourage people to talk about your brand. They continue to be a useful resource for gauging engagement, and including hashtags in your social media marketing strategy and style guide is essential.

  1. Start by listing all the hashtags you want to use for your business.
  2. Define your intent and purpose.
  3. Specify the number of hashtags needed for each post on each platform.
  4. Outline their format. Will hashtags be all lowercase or uppercase?

Some brands even use hashtags in their bios. 

Outline Your Visuals

Social media is highly visual, so set parameters for images you share. Set standards around your:

  1. Profile images and cover photos. 
  2. Shared photos, videos, gifs, and graphics

Have you ever looked at someone’s Instagram and noticed the consistency of their color scheme or posting layout? 10/10 this was probably planned. In your style guide outline:

  • Fonts
  • Color combinations
  • Logos
  • Image sizes across all platforms

Respond to Negative Comments

In this digital age, it seems whenever someone has a bad experience, they run to social media ready to tell the world and go viral, and having a plan for responding to negative comments can be the difference between diffusing or escalating a situation. 

When it comes to this, be clear on your messaging. You don’t want to seem disorganized and share various messages that contradict your brand.

Here you can create on-brand custom replies that can serve as predetermined responses to potential comments. This can also be a place where you develop predetermined answers for frequently asked questions. Not everything will be covered here, but you can get a feel for how to respond and what to say in the event of negative feedback.

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