How to Create your Social Media Style Guide: 10 Must Have Components

The changes on various social platforms have affected social media publishing styles. There are certain rules, known as the brand style guide that dictate how messages should be written and how images should appear, depending on the social media platform utilized. This ensures that the brand is accurately represented through the use of appropriate messages and aesthetics.

Creating the right message on social media is crucial and it is a challenge that social media managers must overcome. With a social media style guide, the contents and purpose of a brand are preserved. This rule book makes it possible for a conversational medium to engage and capture the attention of customers and advocates.

To help you get started in knitting together your own Social Media Style guide, here are the 10 most important components you should never forget.

1. Company Overview

You can start your style guide by listing all the social media channels where you brand is present. Include here the names of the people responsible for each channel, the details of their roles and their contact information.

2. Guiding Principles

The overall marketing plan where your social media marketing is anchored. It is the best place to remind everyone why you are engaging in social media and the benchmark you set in producing contents. This portion can also include the values that your brand upholds and the solution you provide to your customers.

3. Your Voice and Tone

The tone and voice determines the personality that your brand wants to portray. As a general rule, social media contents are ideally written in a more personal level. It has the following characteristics: 

  • Inclusive (you talk to the readers and enjoin them)
  • Friendly or approachable
  • Responsive
  • Expressive (customers must feel they interact with real people not computers)

Take for example NYU Style Guide:

NYU Style Guide

NYU Style Guide

4. Persona

A precise description of the business buyer persona should be incorporated in a social media style guide. To create this, information including consumer demographics, job descriptions, objectives, challenges and others must be provided. Understanding follower behavior, along with their interests are also crucial in developing a message that is targeted to the personas you created. 

Remember, you should speak with them and they must feel that your brand belongs to their circle. These detailed pieces of information must be your guide in crafting social media contents.

5. Branding

How your business is represented depends on the look and feel that you create for it. Branding is crucial in social media. Keep in mind that consistency counts. Therefore, the branding that is reflected on your website and other online profiles should be the same as to what is shown on your social media profiles.

6. Image and Video Contents

Social media posts that use images get 75% more engagement than those that don't contain visual contents. In addition, videos are also expected to have a big impact in social media marketing. As images and videos have become very relevant on various channels, it is necessary to identify the shareable types of visual materials on social media, including the dimensions and formatting they require.

You would want to set standards for the following on your Social Media Style Guide:

  • Type of content
  • Format
  • Dimension/Size
  • Font Style (optional)

The main benefit of doing this is that you’re giving your contents an identity. At a glance, readers can easily identify that the graphics they saw on their newsfeed came from your site. 

7. Terminology and Language

Here, you provide guidelines about what terms to use and not to use, including capitalization and spelling. The language you use will depend on your tone or voice and buyer persona. A list of words or phrases concerning the following items below are included in this portion of a style guide:

  • Spelling (e.g cyber-security vs. cyber security vs. cybersecurity)
  • Capitalization e.g 4 PM or 4 p.m
  • Use of Acronyms or Abbreviation
  • Referencing and Citation
  • Right choice of words (“course of study” instead of “major”)

See Richland Style Guide (2012) for reference.

8. Publication

Don't overuse the Edit option after posting a content. Once published, your followers can immediately see whatever blunder you have made. To keep everything neat and tidy, keep a benchmark for the following details:
 

  • Do you publish same content across channels?
  • When and how should you use Emojis?
  • How often should you post a content?
  • Does the brand own the content? or social media managers should add a byline?
  • How do you cite owners?

9. Attribution

Be ethical and professional, never forget to give credits to the owners of any content you share. There’s no MLA or Turabian guide here. It’s for you to decide how to give credits to contributors or any other owners of contents that you retweet, share or post. This should also work for citing published work.

10. Tags

Tags and Hashtags are useful tools to make your content searchable on social media. And importantly, it is a gauge to measure the impact of your content and how your readers actively responds to it. Be sure to be consistent on how you develop your hashtag e.g its density (how many tags in a post), acronyms and naming conventions etc. 

Quick Tip: Keep your Style Guide easy to read, concise and updated.

Now, it’s your time to gather the team and start putting up your own Social Media Style Guide.

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