Social media is used by 4.59 billion people, which is why it is not surprising that social marketing is a major focus for marketers, especially since this number is increasing.
It can be difficult to manage multiple accounts on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
There are many scheduling problems, and it can be hard to keep consistency and maintain a consistent brand identity.
This can have a significant impact on your bottom line.
A social media style guide can help your brand become globally recognized, just like it did for companies such as Audi and Starbucks. A consistent brand image can actually increase revenue by up to 23%. It can also be a catalyst for growth.
Continue reading to learn how to create your guide and what benefits it can bring to your business.
What is a Social Media Style Guide?
A social style guide for social media is a set or rules that governs your brand’s social media activity.
This could include:
- Tone and language
- Design elements like color schemes and imagery
- Names of key contacts to social media activity
- Guidelines for commenting on public activity and engaging in comments
- A posting schedule
- Guidelines for gathering and processing analytics
While some social media guides can be comprehensive, others allow for more creativity and interpretation.
If you have a particular language or image that you wish to use across all your social media activities, it is a good idea to include more information in your style guide.
A variety of people could have contributed to a social media style manual, including:
- Copy and content specialists
- Designers and visual marketers
- Managers of sales leads from social media
- For agencies, clients
Keep your guide short and simple.
It is important to remember that these guides are intended to help you and your team make social media activities easier.
How to Create a Social Media Style Guide
Each team creates its social media guide in a different way, but there are some key points to remember.
Based on the platform
First, you must know who your audience is online. Also, you need to determine which platforms you intend to use.
If your target market uses Instagram and Pinterest a lot, it will be visually oriented.
You’ll want to avoid spending too much on text-heavy platforms such as Twitter and produce visuals of high quality.
Your technical style guide will be largely dictated by the platforms.
- Image sizes
- Use hashtags and tags
- Length and size of the copy
- Post frequency and timing
Audi, for example, provides detailed instructions on what each post should look like to preserve brand consistency.
Based on the needs of the audience
Once you have established the platforms you are using, it is time to think about your audience’s needs.
It will depend on your business’s nature and the platforms you use. Some points are the same across all social media accounts.
An example of a e-commerce style guide for social media might be:
- How to respond to customer concerns or questions
- You can be product- or company-focused or a combination of both.
- How to manage social media leads
- When is the best time to reach potential customers?
- Based on past social media activity, color schemes and designs can be created
Take a look at this example.
Urban Outfitters, a retailer, coordinates its social media strategy across all platforms to keep its brand’s tone and imagery consistent.
Based on keywords
It is possible to include keywords that are relevant to your audience. This will increase your chances of potential customers finding your profiles.
Think carefully about the hashtags that you choose to use. These will help you increase your profile visibility.
An electronic signature service could, for example, target the keyword “electronic Signature Canada”.
Take down all your keywords on social media and add the reasoning.
Your guide should be kept safe
You’ll also need to think about where and how to store your guide.
Many social media guides are PDFs, as most brands are becoming digital.
These files are saved to the cloud so that they can be accessed by current and future team members.
What must your social media style guide include?
Your company’s social media style guide is unique and should reflect your company’s needs. However, the following are some key points it should include:
1. Here’s a list of your social media platforms
Be sure to include a list of social media platforms your company uses, or plans to use, in this section. These will vary depending on who you are targeting.
If your brand targets younger consumers, TikTok may be more appropriate than Facebook. LinkedIn might be better suited for you if your company is a B2B one.
Each platform offers different formats and features. Your guidelines should detail how your brand will be represented on each platform.
You could also include the names and variations of your accounts for different countries.
Nike Sportswear has several Instagram accounts, including Nike Running, Nike Sportswear and Nike Running. It will be easier to avoid future confusion by keeping track of all your accounts.
2. Brand Language
A section should include the words and phrases that describe your brand.
Be specific. This will allow you to refer consistently across all platforms to your brand, products, and services.
Below is an example from Destination Canada.
They refer to their section on brand terminology to determine a preference for “traveler” over “tourist.”
Do some brainstorming when creating your style guide. This will help you to choose the language that best fits your brand.
These are the phrases and words you will use to increase your brand’s visibility as hashtags.
You will find more general ones that you will use regularly and hashtags to help you with specific campaigns.
Think carefully about the hashtags you will use on each social media platform. You might use three hashtags for posts on LinkedIn, and eight for posts on Instagram.
PandaDoc, a software company, limits the number and types of hashtags that they use on all social media platforms.
Screenshot taken by linkedin.com
Screenshot taken by instagram.com
4. Color Palette
It is important to specify the colors you would like to use, and how they should be used. A consistent color palette across your social media channels will help you unify your brand.
Identify your primary and secondary colors. Consider the appropriate color balance and the color ratio. Your primary colors should be more prominent than your secondary colors.
This is how the Red Cross illustrates it. They can keep their brand identity consistent by sticking to their colors.
Provide details about how posts will be formatted so that consistency and quality are maintained across platforms.
Consider where your logo will appear in posts, and how large you’ll need to post on different platforms. You should plan the exact spacing and image size, as well as where your logo will appear.
Audi takes it even further and shows you how your posts will look on different mobile devices.
6. Tone and Voice
This section will help you decide the tone of voice that is most appropriate for your brand.
Are you looking for something serious and formal, or playful and unique?
Clear guidelines will allow content creators to create consistent and authentic social media posts.
You might also wish to specify which tones you use and when, such as Starbucks did in the example below.
This section will help you identify the fonts that you intend to use across your posts.
These are crucial in making your brand memorable. Use different fonts for headings, titles, and body copy. You should also consider the font’s weight, and whether or not you will use italics.
You may wish to add a link to a font that is specifically designed for your brand.
These are expressive additions to your content, but they may not be always appropriate.
To project a professional image, you may avoid using them on LinkedIn. However, they can be used quite liberally on Twitter.
Describe which ones you intend to use, the number of them you will use and where they will be used.
Headspace restricts the use of emojis at the end of posts. It only uses one or two to not overwhelm the viewer and distract them from the content.
9. Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation
You should also include specific punctuation, spelling, grammar and grammar rules in your social media style guide. This could include how to hyphenate words and whether or not you prefer the passive or comma usage.
Another thing to think about is which version of English you are using.
You could include guidelines for spelling and punctuation if your accounts are aimed at Australian, British, or American audiences.
Ben & Jerry’s guidelines for language
This section will outline the types of images that you intend to use.
Are you going to use stock images? Or only images created specifically for your brand? Are you going to add a watermark?
Also, consider adding filters to images to help keep your brand consistent.
You should also consider how you will format your video content and what music you will use so that they are consistent across all your social media platforms.
Social Media Style Guide Examples
Here are three examples of social media style guides, and why they are so successful.
Audi goes above and beyond to provide guidelines for social media.
Before defining specific branding for each platform, they provide information about image sizes, profile photos, and branding.
They can keep the brand consistent by going into great detail. It will be easy to recognize it no matter what social media platform they use.
2. Boy Scouts of America
Boy Scouts of America’s brand guidelines
Boy Scouts of America uses their style guide as a way to convey their brand across all platforms. These guidelines cover color, typography, logos and layout as well as imagery and imagery for both their main and sub-brands.
They provide examples from the real world to reinforce their guidelines.
Vodafone’s brand guidelines
Vodafone is yet another example of a company that uses a style guide to ensure consistency across all its social media platforms.
They provide examples and guidelines, similar to Audi’s, for various social media sites.
The Vodafone logo can be posted with some guidelines. This makes it easier for the brand’s image to be displayed the way it wishes.
How Social Media Style Guides Benefit Your Brand
This may seem like a lot to do and take a lot of effort. However, it has many benefits.
A style guide is a tool that helps companies build consistency in their social media.
Consistency is always a benefit to social media brands. Effective branding is about creating a unique public image.
This can make it difficult, especially if multiple people are involved in your brand’s social media.
A style guide helps to overcome this problem by ensuring consistency in tone and establishing brand authority.
Although training can be difficult, it is worth the effort. Training will help your team work together and preserve your brand image.
As a key training tool for your team, consider a social media style book.
Your guide should be kept in a place that is easily accessible on your cloud or server. As soon as new members join the team, go through the guide together and make any necessary updates to your style guide.
Expanding your social media guidelines can be expanded to include external communications. For example, you could create a standard email signature across all email accounts of your team.
3. Planning for the future
Social media can increase brand awareness and sales. Sometimes, however, your team won’t have enough time to devote to social media.
You can set up guidelines for social media branding that allow anyone on your team to plan ahead and take over social media activities when they are unavailable.
You can also schedule social media to save time on promotional or seasonal content.
If you know that you post for one campaign twice a week, and another campaign three times a week, you can outline this in your guidelines or plan.
You can also create content for a few weeks and then use a scheduling tool that will post it automatically during quieter times. This allows your team to save time and allow you to focus on labor-intensive social media campaigns.
SocialPilot offers a scheduling feature to help you plan ahead.
With their monthly plan view, you can plan more efficiently and have a better view of the future. You can also reschedule and filter posts by account.
External collaborations are a key part of some brands’ brand strategies.
This could include working with ambassadors, brands, influencers, and charities. Collaborations are great for creativity and can open up new business opportunities.
A style guide can help you show your collaborators the guidelines to follow and decide if a collaboration would be mutually beneficial.
If you have style guides, you can also compare them. You can identify hidden similarities that will benefit your collaboration.
Below is an example from SocialPilot’s guidelines regarding guest post collaboration. These guidelines are clear and detailed to ensure that the posts they receive meet the required standards.
5. Brand identity
All of the information we have covered thus far points to this conclusion: social media style guidelines help build brand identity.
It is crucial that your team members can create consistent posts and speak the same voice in order to build your brand and establish a social media persona.
A strong brand identity can help build trust and credibility and make your brand trustworthy and reliable. This helps you build customer loyalty, increase sales, and grow your customer base.
Create a Social Media Style Guide that works for you
Social media is saturated. Your brand must stand out in this market.
No matter what your goal, whether it’s to increase brand awareness or increase social media sales conversions – you need to post thoughtful and well-reasoned content that resonates.
A social media style guide carefully designed can help you create high-quality social media campaigns. One of the best ways to make social media work is by making your content relevant to your audience.
SocialPilot’s first article was How to Create a Stellar SocialMedia Style Guide for Your Brand.