Social Media Style Guides - What They Are and Why You Need One Social Media Style Guides...What They Are and Why You Need One

You can’t have a clear and successful brand identity without brand and style guidelines, fact. But, did you know that you should have a style guide for your social media output as well? It’s essential, and it’s more important than you might think.

Why is a social media style guide important? 

Just like brand guidelines, it’s vital to have social media style guidelines to ensure that your voice, branding and content is consistent across all of your social media platforms. You need to make sure that everything you share online is of the same tone, uses either American or English spelling, not a mix of the two, and that grammar and punctuation are consistent throughout.

Such consistency shows professionalism and that you and all your staff have a solid understanding of your business’s brand, personality and values. It shows that you are confident in your brand. And when you’re confident in what you do, your clients will be too.

What should you put in your social media style guide? 

Customer personas – You should have already done the groundwork on this and identified who your target personas are. If not, do it now! Then include descriptions of them in your guidelines. This is a vital step, as it will provide the foundation on which to build all your other social media styling and content.

A list of all your social media accounts and handles – A clear list of all your social media accounts is useful for several reasons. One of these being that it can help you keep track of the social handles you use on each channel. You need to make sure your handles are consistent across all platforms so that followers from Facebook, for example, can easily find you on Twitter.

Jargon – It’s always best not to use jargon in social media marketing to avoid the risk of alienating parts of your audience. As part of your social media style guide, put together a list of jargon words to steer clear of and perhaps give clearer alternatives to use instead.

Voice and tone – A clearly-defined brand voice is essential to connect with your audience and encourage engagement effectively. Decide whether you’re going to adopt an informal style or keep it professional and serious, then once you’ve made the decision, stick to it with everything you share.

Length of caption, sentence and paragraphs – Short and sweet is always best, but try to be consistent about how short you keep things. Make this clear in your guidelines. For example:

  • Facebook – there’s no strict limit but 1-2 sentences per post are most effective
  • Twitter – no more than 280 characters
  • Instagram – again, no limit but 1-2 sentences prove best

Imagery, graphics and video – With billions of streams of social content flooding your target audience every day, it’s critical that your copy is on point, but also the visuals that run alongside this. Be creative, be bright, be bold and stand out! Make sure any visuals you use are true to your brand, are relevant to your audience, but most importantly are eye-catching enough to warrant attention.

Log some clear examples of the style of imagery, sorts of graphics and types of video that have the ‘all clear’ to be used on your social platforms in your guidelines. Set up templates in a design tool like Canva (which has a free subscription available!) to ensure your visuals look consistent and professional every time.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. You should also include information about things such as trademarks, acronyms, the language that is specific to your sector and your CTAs (calls to action), amongst other things. But if this sounds daunting, never fear, we are here to help you – it’s our thing! Please give 3twelve a call so we can work together to get your social media strategy nailed! 

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