social media style guide

Successfully marketing your brand on social media requires a mix of skills from your company’s founder, employees and often freelancers or agency staff.

When many different people contribute to a project, it’s important to create a framework that ensures consistency of quality and brand personality.

For social media marketing, that framework is called a social media style guide.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to create a social media style guide that helps you maintain a consistent brand voice and on-board new employees or freelancers more quickly.

Choose Platforms

If you haven’t already chosen social media platforms for your brand, consider which platforms might best help you achieve your goals. If you’re working with a limited budget or a small team, it’s best to perfect one or two platforms before expanding.

The first step toward creating a social media style guide is to list all the social media platforms that your brand will be active on.

Once you’ve chosen and listed your choice of social media channels, you’re ready to create your profiles.

Although different social media channels have different approaches, your profile should be consistent across all channels. This consistency helps improve your brand recognition. It also builds your followers’ trust.

Start by writing a brief description of your brand’s mission statement, and a brief overview of your products or services.

Then choose:

  • Your profile name to use across all social channels
  • The link that you will promote in your profile
  • A simple call-to-action that you can display on your profile

Messaging length varies from platform to platform, but you can refer to this section of your social media guide to remind you of the core elements of your message.

Followers need to be able to recognise you from one channel to the next. So, you must present consistent brand messaging across all channels.

This part of your social media style guide will frequently change. It’s a good idea to update your profiles about once a month. Revising and updating your messaging is fine, but be sure to do it across all channels at the same time. Also, if you’re working with freelancers, be sure to keep them in the loop.

Decide Your Brand’s Tone and Voice

Presenting a consistent style of communication across all social media platforms is important for building customer’s trust.

After aligning your social profiles, you need to define the your brand’s tone of voice.

For example, if your brand wants to be known as energetic and cheerful, document that. Similarly, your brand cares about a certain cause or is passionate about a certain sport, you should document it.

Recording the personality traits of your brand will help you to find and create relevant content and avoid anything that’s not on brand.

Personality traits to consider for your style guide:

  • Friendly
  • Funny
  • Energetic
  • Sophisticated
  • Knowledgeable
  • Trendy
  • Political
  • Sarcastic

Try to pick out 2 or 3 traits that define your style, and list 2 or 3 that your style is not.

Create Posting Guidelines

How will you introduce the longer content that you create to your brand’s social media pages?

When you share articles, will you tease a portion, or simply introduce it by title?

When you share videos, will you set them to auto-play or click to play?

Will you share mini-stories that engage your followers?

All of the above are reasonable options. How you approach them will help determine how your brand posts and interacts with followers across social media channels.

Once you’ve thought through the above questions, write a clear and detailed description of your brand’s content guidelines including:

    • How your brand will format posts
    • What type of content you’ll share
    • What percentage of your posts will be promotional, if any

Write a clear and detailed description of your brand posting guidelines.

Setting these policies ahead of time will cut down the decision making required to publish your content, and keep your communications consistent.

Set image guidelines

Graphics go a long way toward setting the style and personality of your brand. Keeping your graphics consistent across all social channels will help people to recognise your brand.

Some of the things you’ll want to consider when setting your image guidelines:

      • Logos to use, their sizing and positioning
      • Fonts and colours to use

Setting guidelines early on will save time and frustration for your team because you’ll look great across all channels and won’t need to backtrack fixing problems.

Decide how to deal with negativity

You’re growing your brand, attracting followers and everything on social media is great. Only it isn’t. People can be unpredictable and at times unreasonable. You must be prepared to take the rough with the smooth.

As your social following grows and you become more active on social media, it’s pretty much inevitable that you’ll face a few difficult situations on social media.

Sometimes it will be a genuinely upset customer who you can help, but other times it will just be a troll.

For big brands such as Greggs and Burger King, the trolling is constant, but they’ve managed to turn these negative comments into viral marketing with humorous replies.

Greggs Twitter social media style guide

burger king social media style guide

You may not choose to take such a bold choice with how you handle internet negativity for your brand, but it is worth noting that all brands encounter a measure of negativity online. It’s an unavoidable element of increasing social media exposure and not an indicator of your brand’s performance.

It’s important to think about how your team will handle criticism, questions, and comments on your public pages.

Handling negativity on social media can be stressful. Help your team by being as specific as you can in outlining how you’d like them to respond in public situations.

Hashtags

The hashtags that you use on social media are likely to change depending on the campaign and content you’re posting.

What you can decide ahead of time are things like:

      • Will your brand use hashtags on Facebook, where hashtags tend to have lower engagement?
      • Will you have your own brand or campaign hashtags?
      • How many hashtags will you use in your Twitter and Instagram posts?

Hashtags are useful social media tools when used properly. Be sure to use hashtags that align with your campaign or topic and avoid hashtag spamming with too many hashtags per post.

Set Social Media Style Guide Policies to Maintain Consistency and Improve Creativity

The key to a good style guide is to make as many decisions as possible, without becoming so strict that you stifle the potential of your creative team. Making these decisions gives your creative team the time and guidelines they need to create content that will resonate with followers and strengthen your brand profile.

A social media style guide helps you to build trust with consumers through steady and consistent brand messaging. With your style guide, your team can better create engaging content and present a united front representing your brand on social media.

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