How to Create a Winning Social Media Style Guide for Your Brand

How to Create a Winning Social Media Style Guide for Your Brand

It’s a document you create and share, showing the right voice, tone, colors, words, and visuals that makes your brand you. Because… Your brand will have personality You’ll show up the right way, to the right people, across all your social accounts and posts You’ll win more, fail less, with everyone in the know on your social media team Quickly onboard new team members before having them go social Then, strut on over with confidence to say… “Hey boss, I’ve got you covered for making our brand look consistent across everything we do on social media. 16 things your social media style guide should include Now that you know the why of the guide, this section will help you create a living, breathing document. What to post Ever hear this from someone on your social media team, “What should I post?” Make it so you never have to again—ever. Do you want each post to come from your brand? List all of the ones to use for your business Identify your branded and campaign specific hashtags Know and explain on which platforms to use hashtags (e.g., they’re not as effective on Facebook) State how many to use for your Twitter or Instagram posts Should they be all lower, upper, or mixed case? Posting across platforms Do you publish the same post across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others? Use these guides to help guide your guide. And their style guide is an excellent example of what your guide could look like. Now, go ‘nail it’ by creating your social media style guide, to make your strategy happen.

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What is a social media style guide?

It’s where you go to know how your brand should look and behave on social.

It’s a document you create and share, showing the right voice, tone, colors, words, and visuals that makes your brand you.

It’s not your content marketing strategy. That’s the what. Think of your social media style guide as the how.

Now…

Why do you need a social media style guide?

While your audience may not praise you for how well everything fits together, your boss will.

Why? Because…

  • Your brand will have personality
  • You’ll show up the right way, to the right people, across all your social accounts and posts
  • You’ll win more, fail less, with everyone in the know on your social media team
  • Quickly onboard new team members before having them go social

Then, strut on over with confidence to say…

“Hey boss, I’ve got you covered for making our brand look consistent across everything we do on social media. For you, me, and everyone else that will post. See what I mean here.”

But, before you get too confident, let’s look at what should go inside the guide.

16 things your social media style guide should include

Now that you know the why of the guide, this section will help you create a living, breathing document.

I’ll give you plenty to consider. Add new ideas as you go. Update other items as your strategy evolves. Think of your guide as a process, rather than a static thing.

Share the link to your guide often.

This is the go-to place for everyone, for your brand to show up as intended across all your social media accounts.

Let the list begin…

1. Your goals

Use your guide to remind everyone of why you’re on social.

State the goals, front and center, with a link to your social marketing plan and strategy.

2. Your audience

Too many businesses lose sight of their who.

And the whats of their who.

But not you.

Create a buyer persona (a fictionalized representation) of your ideal customer.

So you can know things like their age, job title, interests, and professional challenges.

And… how they speak, consume content, and behave on social. Does it differ from platform to platform? Define the people you want to reach and influence on social.

You might already have this for your business. Make sure it shows up here, too.

It’s hard to write, design, and share posts for an ill-defined audience.

3. A list of your accounts

Where are all your social media accounts?

Can you answer that right now? In seconds?

That’s what this section is for.

List them all. Every. Single. One. Including primary and secondary accounts.

For example… Nike has several Twitter accounts.

Nike Twitter accounts

This will also help you define naming conventions, which is hard to do if you can’t see them all together. For new accounts, on new platforms, use the same naming style.

Maybe the name you really want is taken? If so, determine what’s acceptable for backup names. Maybe add some suffix to the end?

Also, list everyone who has access to each account, with their role and responsibility.

4. Your voice and tone

It’s not just what your brands says, but how, too.

Voice defines the overall sound for your brand personality. Tone is the way you use your voice.

Both of these make your brand more human, allowing you to have natural conversations. Which is expected on social media.

Again, it’s important to show up consistently—across your ads, posts, tweets, videos, and all the other ways you share.

“But, how do I establish my brand voice on social media?” you ask.

Simple:

  • Find your adjectives
  • Write like you talk
  • Drop the drama
  • Write from the reader’s perspective
  • Listen and respond

I wrote this article to help you do all those.

Describe your voice and tone in your guide. So no matter who’s posting, your fans and followers will perceive your brand just right.

5. The words you use

Got words and phrases unique to your business or industry?

Include these in your guide, along with ways to use them.

For example:

  • Proper capitalization and spelling
  • How to reference clients or customers
  • When to use acronyms
  • Words to avoid using all together (like all jargon, which requires brain translation)

Already have a guide for your website or blog? Start with that for your social guide. Use what you like best, ignore the rest.

6. What to post

Ever hear this from someone on your social media team, “What should I post?”

Make it so you never have to again—ever.

Load your guide up with where to go when your brain runs dry. List where to find blog posts, announcements, images, videos, or GIFs to make your brand shine on social.

Check out these social media content ideas that work for inspiration.

7. When to post

This may or may not be important to you.

But if it is, make it known the best times to…

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