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It’s no big secret that, in this day and age, a brand’s online presence is extremely important. This isn’t just for brands in the world of digital, but for brands in pretty much every industry out there. However, social media is no easy feat; it can be the make or break of a brand. But if it’s done right, it can be extremely beneficial for your business. Creating a social media style guide to better your online presence can dramatically improve consistency and perceptions of your brand online.

A Social Media What?

It might be that you haven’t even heard of a social media style guide, and that’s okay. It’s not a necessity for all brands using social media, but it can certainly benefit all. A social media style guide is basically a point of reference for how your brand should appear on social media, and how it presents itself across all of its social media platforms. This is particularly useful when multiple employees are contributing to a brand’s social media, and even more useful for new employees joining the company.

Whether your brand is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, all four, or even more, it is important to have a consistent style and voice for all Facebook statuses, all tweets, all Instagram posts, and all LinkedIn updates. Social media branding is extremely influential in shaping others’ perceptions of your brand, and a social media style guide helps you to perfect this.

Benefits of a Social Media Style Guide

  • Having a style guide helps your brand to develop a consistent brand personality. A style guide covers in detail the tone and subject of social media posts, allowing for consistency at all times.
  • It is much quicker and easier for new employees to get onboard with the use of a social media style guide. New employees can refer back to the style guide if they are ever unsure about how to post something, or what they should be posting.
  • A social media style guide minimises the risk of a social media fail. These are every brand’s nightmare, and can be easily avoided if you have a social media style guide that is up to scratch.

How to Create a Social Media Style Guide

Social Media Icons

Here’s a quick guide on what to include in your social media style guide:

Firstly, gather information of which social media platforms your brand uses, including a link to the profiles. This places all of your profiles in one place, with easy access.

Voice

Next, it is important to identify your brand’s voice on social media. This incorporates who you are as a brand and the way you want your brand to be perceived online. For example, are you a serious brand looking to spread its knowledge and opinions, or are you a fun and energetic business looking to portray a casual image on social media – or both? It’s important to determine this before any social media updates are shared.

Ownership

If you have multiple people contributing to your brand’s social media, it is important to decide whether each update is to be signed off by the individual, or whether each update is to consistently appear as from the brand as a whole.

Cross-Platform Publishing

If posting to multiple social media platforms at a time, it’s extremely important that the terminology used is applicable to all platforms. For example, the term ‘Retweet/RT’ is only applicable to Twitter, so this term shouldn’t be used on any other platforms. Explaining this in your social media style guide will help to remind any contributors about this, and help those who may not be aware of these discrepancies.

Sourcing Content

To help any new or existing employees who may be unsure about what to post, or may be lacking inspiration, this section of the social media style guide should explain the nature and source of what your social media posts can be about. Everything from what you might share pictures of, to explaining that all blog posts from your company blog should be shared on social media.

Grammar and Terminology

This section is extremely important. The grammar and terminology used by your brand contributes to how people perceive your brand as a whole, and so it’s imperative that all grammar and spelling is correct.

Because there are many different social media platforms that are good for different things, it might be that your brand’s tone and style differs across its profiles. For example, you might identify that your company’s LinkedIn profile is to remain strictly professional, whereas its Twitter might be a little more light-hearted. This varies from brand to brand and depends on what works best for each business and its industry.

Hashtags

Hashtags are the key to getting the engagement and visibility your brand is looking for. Through trialling and experimenting with different but relevant hashtags, you will come across words and phrases that bring you more engagement than others. It’s a good idea to include these in your social media style guide, to remember what works well and inform other employees on which hashtags they should include.

Tagging

Tagging people, places, and other profiles is a great way to increase your brand’s reach and engagement online. This section of your style guide should inform how best to do this, including where in the text of a social media update you should tag people, and examples of when you might tag other accounts.

Platform-Specific Guidelines

There may be some requirements that haven’t been covered yet, that are relevant to specific platforms. For factors, here is the place to include them. These can comprise of whether to retweet or quote retweet on Twitter and how long a LinkedIn post should be.

Visual Guidelines

It’s good to have visual guidelines for your social media as it helps to build up a consistent brand image and make your brand recognisable. This can include the colours you want to incorporate into any images used, when images should be used, photo-editing apps, the nature of photos, etc. Social media largely relies on visual interest, so this is an important part of the style guide. Here is also the place to include screenshots of any other brands or profiles that may be of inspiration to your business.

Engagement Style

Thanks to the range of social media platforms available, there are now many different ways to engage with your followers and other accounts. This means that your brand is likely to engage with others in different ways, depending on the platform. Explaining these techniques is important, even if to simply explain that your brand should retweet relevant tweets or tweets you are mentioned in, and to like interesting photos on Instagram.

And there you have it; a document that incorporates all of your social media style information into one. Your social media style guide will act as a point of reference for anyone that is unsure of what to post, or for anyone who hasn’t posted before or who is inexperienced at using social media. This can save a lot of time and effort as, if done right, your style guide should include all information anyone will ever need to ask.

Getting your social media style guide just right is absolutely crucial in ensuring that your brand’s social media works well. If you need a little help from some social media gurus, get in touch with us today. And don’t forget to keep up to date with our blog for more tips and tricks on all things digital.

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