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Inbound Marketing Blog

How to Create the Ultimate Social Media Style Guide

ultimate-social-guide-intext.jpgIf you read my post, Who has time for Social Media Marketing, you know that a social media style guide is crucial for business success today. It’s the rule book for how social media managers will create messaging on social. It’s similar to a writing style guide or content style guide, and will cut the time you spend debating what to post in half!

There’s a lot of information swimming around on the internet about this topic, and I spent a lot of time sorting through it to piece together a style guide for MINDSCAPE. To save you the time and hassle, I've compiled all of the useful tidbits of knowledge I found into one all-encompassing social media style guide with 9 must-have parts.

1. Company Overview

Even if you already think you know this, the new hire might not, so briefly state your company’s mission, vision, unique brand benefit, and anything else you see important. This will help the rest of your style guide to stay in line with your company’s existing goals.

2. Personas

Your social media style guide should start with a clear and detailed description of your buyer personas. Dig into demographics, job roles, goals, challenges, etc. Go beyond their profession into what their hobbies might be or what music they listen to. Research what keywords they use to find you and document those keywords in your guide. Any bit of information will help you reach them on social media!

3. Writing Style/Tone of Voice

Know your brand’s voice. Is it conversational or is it factual? What “language” do your personas best respond to? It’s OK to let your hair down on social media.

People don’t want to be sold to via social media, so keep your tone conversational, not sales-y. A lot of people use social media as an outlet to relieve stress, so give them something light to engage with. Humanize your messages, and don’t take yourselves too seriously!

4. Branding

Get in touch with your design team to see what the design standards are surrounding your brand, specific to social media. (If you don’t already have brand standards for design, you might want to start with a brand style guide) You want your personas to have a seamless brand experience, and the design of your social pages is important to that experience.

The branding that you use on your social media profiles should align with the branding that you use on your company website. Here’s an example of how MINDSCAPE’s website stays consistent with their social channels. Notice how the gradient on the website is displayed in our cover photo and we use our logo as our profile picture.

Website:website.jpg

Twitter:twitter.jpg


5. Images, Videos, and Formatting 

Social media messages with images get 75% more clicks than those that don’t have a photo. Additionally, video content on social is on the rise and is expected to play a huge role in social media marketing in 2016. That’s why determining the types of images and videos to share on social media, along with dimensions and formatting is very important.

6. Competitors

“Stalk” your competition on their social media channels to see how you can be better. Learn from what works for them and what doesn’t. What channels are they present on? How often do they post? How can we be a more valuable source for our personas?

Then stalk your role models on social media-the big dogs in your industry that perform like a well-oiled machine. Fresh content is hard to create on a daily basis, so stake out some respected and relevant companies that can be used as a source for shared posts and repurposed content.

7. Channels

There are so many different social channels out there, but don't spread yourself too thin! Do whatever you can do with excellence, because your personas will see right through anything less. Understand where your personas spend most of their time using the insights tabs on each channel.

Here are some useful links for each social channel:

This link was the most helpful for me in understanding the demographic differences between users of different channels.

8. Goals

There are a number of different ways you could go in terms of goals. Know your company and what kinds of goals will push you, but are still feasible. Your goals will also vary based on what channel you’re setting goals for.

Sometimes, qualitative goals are where you should start: 

  1. Improve the brand’s search engine ranking
  2. Increase brand awareness
  3. Drive traffic to your website
But sometimes quantitative goals make more sense:
  1. Increase following by 10%
  2. Generate 100 leads
  3. Increase views by 25%

9. Content Calendar

Once you’ve decided on what channels to be present on and what your goals are for each channel, you need to decide on post frequency and timing. Through a lot of research and even more experimentation, you will find the time of day to post that gets you the most engagement with your personas.

Put yourself in their shoes. Do they check their Facebook more on weekends or at the beginning of the week? Are they active in the morning or at lunch or after dinner? Make a posting schedule and stick to it! Consistency is key.

Here’s a helpful link about the best times to post on social media. Here’s another!

Conclusion

In the creation of your social media style guide, think of how it will be used. This document is a reference material and guide for how and where your company should be present on social media.

Include examples and specifics. Keep the guidelines direct and simple. Leave room for creativity, but set guidelines to keep your brand message consistent. The ultimate goal for your social media style guide should be to make your life easier! With a style guide, multiple members of your company can get on board with posting, and you won’t have to wonder what to post and when to post it.

Another thing that will make your life easier, Marketing & Sales automation! If you want to learn more about using Marketing & Sales automation in your marketing efforts, check out our upcoming event, Hubspot on Tap! 

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Sources:

Topics: Marketing, Social Media Marketing

MINDSCAPE

Written by MINDSCAPE

We work with companies and organizations who want to get the most out of their digital marketing: more leads, more sales, more profit. Our success is measured by the hundreds of millions of dollars we help our clients generate each year.

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