Whether if its a website or printed magazine: a style guide is the design guideline for the various means of communication of a company and guarantees brand conformity. Social media teams also benefit from a style guide. How to create a social media style guide? To learn the tips and tricks for the perfect social media guide, keep on reading.
Why Do You Need a Social Media Style Guide?
A style guide is useful in many ways. It answers almost every conceivable question to new employees and offers guidelines that speed up the onboarding process and ensure smooth handovers between team members. But this guide can do more than supporting new employees. A detailed social media style guide can become the cornerstone of your entire social media strategy – a substructure that ensures clarity and consistency in your company’s use of social media.
In this article, we will mention ten core components for a social media style guide. Depending on your industry, brand, or business requirements, you may focus more on one or the other component or add areas that are not covered here. You should create a guideline that serves as the first point of contact for instructions and references throughout the company.
Think about regular updates. An outdated document with outdated information is of no use. Develop your style guide further and adapt it to changes in your strategy and target group.
Ten Core Components for a Social Media Style Guide
Without further due, let’s start directly with ten aspects of a perfect social media guide.
1. A list of active accounts and contacts
Start with a list of all active social media profiles and link to each account. List the names and contact details of all those responsible for social media. Make it clear who has access to which account and explain the respective tasks and responsibilities.
2. Set Your Social Media Goals
Your social media style guide is ideal for reminding everyone in the company why your company is involved in social media. List goals you’re working on and link to your overall social media marketing plan and strategy behind it.
3. Breakdown of the Target Group
Who do you want to reach? How does your target group act on social media? How do they consume social content? Are there differences between the individual platforms? In your style guide, define who you want to reach on social media. This strategy ensures that you concentrate on precisely this target group with every decision.
4. Keep a Stabilised Tone
Your style guide shouldn’t just provide information about what your brand posts on social media. You should, therefore, also determine how you carry out the communication. The posts and their tone on social media must not differ drastically from the basic brand voice, although it should be adapted to the more personal nature of social media.
Customers who contact you on social media expect one-to-one interaction. The tonality should, therefore, correspond to that of a telephone call or personal conversation. It is one of the most basic things in a PR campaign.
5. Use Technical Terms
You can use a number of company or industry-specific expressions and phrases on social media. List them and formulate guidelines for use, for example:
- Correct capitalization and spellings for product or brand names. Naming conventions matter.
- Set how to reference customers or buyers.
- Decide when you will use abbreviations.
- Choose which words/expressions you will avoid using.
6. Plan Your Publication
This part covers all guidelines for posting your posts on social media. Even small and inconspicuous details count because they sharpen the overall picture. As in any other channel, communication on social media reflects your brand or company. So make sure that your voice remains both consistent and distinctive.
Should your employees mark their posts with initials? Or should every post be published in the name of your brand (not by a person)?
Do you publish your posts on multiple social networks? Or do you create unique posts for each network? If you do cross-posting, set guidelines. An example can be: “If you publish a post on several networks, pay attention to the terminology. Do not use expressions (such as retweet or parts) that do not match the network. Don’t cross-tag people because usernames may differ from platform to platform.”
“What should I post?” It is probably one of the most common questions asked by social media employees. Let your people know where to find suitable content sources such as blog posts, announcements, images, videos, or GIFs that your brand can share on social media. If you have a shared content library that has pre-approved social media content, link to it.
Your brand may already have guidelines for written communication or may adhere to press standards. In this case, link to these guidelines so that every employee is aware of the correct wording of a social media post. If not, outline the basics to ensure the consistency of all your brand’s posts and interactions across social media. These basics include upper and lower case and punctuation guidelines such as exclamation points, capital letters, and abbreviations.
List all relevant hashtags that your company uses on social media. This includes hashtags for specific products or campaigns and those that you use to increase engagement rates (for example, hashtags for certain days of the week like #tbt). Provide guidelines for using hashtags. For example: is the first letter of each word in a hashtag always lowercase or uppercase?
Smileys are great for expressing more in fewer characters and spicing up your social media messages with a dash of humor. Stickers, GIFS, and Emojis have also been shown to increase engagement – but only if you use it correctly. Determine the context (and how) your company should use emojis. You can find out more in our guide Using Emojis in Marketing Campaigns.
How do you thank the owners of images you use or articles you share? On Twitter, you could do this with “h/t @username” (“h/t” means “taking off your hat” – English idiom: “hat tip”). Or you can simply add the username of the user in your tweet. On Instagram, many use the camera emoji next to the @username to show their respect for the original author.
Shortening links in social media not only creates more space for your posts. This method can also measure how successful your social media work is. Should links of campaign content or pages use different UTM parameters?
Each platform has its features to consider. Two examples: Does your brand retweet other people directly or cite them in “Quoted Tweets”? How long should an average Facebook post be?
7. Schedule Your Posts
Outline when to schedule a post to be published instead of publishing it immediately. Is there a specific time frame, or does it depend on the content type? Who is responsible for scheduling social media content? Does your company have to observe certain time zones?
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Determine a frequency with your scheduled posts and how many you plan to post per day. For example: “A maximum of 10 pre-scheduled tweets should be published with at least two hours between them.”
8. Create a Content Calendar
You should edit your current content calendar. If you don’t have a content calendar yet, download a practical template, and get started. Create a social media content calendar for your accounts and be consistent with your posts.
9. Determine The Image and Design Guidelines
Images and designs used on social media should be closely matched to the visual materials of what your company generally uses. This affects profile and cover pictures, just like any other visual content that you publish – whether photos, videos, or GIFs.
Add a list of optimal image sizes for each social media platform you use and create guidelines for using social media imagery.
10. Make Sure the Legal Aspects are Clear
If your company operates in highly corporate industry, your style guide must also contain information and guidelines to ensure compliance on social media. Even if you are not working in a regulated industry, legal considerations should flow into your style guide.
Concluding Social Media Style Guides
We mentioned how to create a social media style guide in this article. Thank you for reading our blog. If you want to check other blog posts of the Instagram Support blog. If you want to learn more about social media styles, you can check this video by Market & Hustle: