Social media guidelines for brands are a necessity. Social media is where brands want to be seen; you can establish a community of fans, create a unique brand voice and develop a brand identity that is uniquely yours.
Consistency is key when it comes to communicating through social media. But maintaining a consistent tone of voice and personality of a brand can be difficult when there are multiple people working together to create the brand. This is why having social media guidelines for brands is so important.
Social media guidelines help brands visualise how they will be perceived by the industry and audience members. These guidelines will also keep all your team on the same page. Without social media guidelines for brands, mistakes and slip-ups can be relatively common. Having set guidelines that include dos and don’ts will minimise confusion and prevent mistakes prematurely.
What are social media guidelines for brands?
A social media guideline is a go-to document that explains how a brand will appear, act and sound on social media. It will cover multiple channels and will dictate what people think of when they hear your brand name and how they will discuss you with others.
A brand’s social media guidelines are different to its overall social media marketing strategy. Your strategy will include more tactical information including publishing frequency and general social media goals. Your guidelines include how your actions will be represented and look on social media.
What social media guidelines for brands should include
All your social media accounts
Your social media guidelines need to include every active and inactive social media account that your brand controls. This way you can easily see if the account names are consistent. If not, you can choose a style and ensure all new accounts are easily discoverable by fans.
It is quite likely that your guidelines will be different for each social media platform. Having all your accounts listed will help you identify the differences required but still have consistency across all channels.
Your audience personas
You need to have your target market and developed audience personas within your social media guidelines. Before you decide on a voice, you need to know who you’re talking to. Having descriptions of your audience will help you shape a relatable voice and identity that will appeal to them.
All decisions you make in regards to your voice and brand identity should be based on your target audience.
Tone of voice and language
In order to meaningfully connect with your audience, you need to have a clear and defined tone of voice. This could be cheeky and funny or serious and formal—just make sure it is relevant to your audience.
Facebook, Instagram & WhatsApp are down. For those of you using Twitter for the first time, it’s basically the same but with less avocados on toast and less group chats with 29 people trying to organise a night out while one friend sends dog GIFs.
Oh, and you can only use 240 ch
— innocent drinks (@innocent) October 4, 2021
You need to outline the type of jargon you will use, if at all. Plain and inclusive language makes your content accessible and understandable to everyone, giving you a wider potential audience. However, using jargon on occasion can help you solidify your expert presence within your niche and industry.
Also within your guidelines, you should discuss post authorship. Will you publish content as your brand or will each post be attributed to individual team members? Typically within customer service, team members sign off with their name of initials to let customers know they are speaking to a real person.
Okey doke, ta for letting us know, have a lovely day 🙂 Mike
— TalkTalk (@TalkTalk) October 6, 2021
Brand language rules
Sometimes brand language is considered a subsection of tone of voice, but it’s important enough to have its own independent section. It is likely that you will have branded words, phrases, acronyms and names that are specific to your brand. You need to know exactly how and when to use them.
Make sure you have a list of all your brand trademarks. These should be listed in a case-sensitive way to ensure that the spelling is always consistent and correct. You should also include any other language that is specific to your brand. For example, whether you call your customers or employees by a nickname.
Although not directly related to your brand, you should make a list of any specific language that relates to your industry. This will help you consistently appear professional and like you know what you’re talking about.
Consistency guidelines refer to linguistic issues and preferences. One of the main consistency issues to consider is the type of English you use—UK or US? To combat this, pick a dictionary and ensure you check back regularly to ensure you are always writing in the same English.
You also need to know where you stand on headline capitalisation. Do you capitalise every word or just the first? There’s no right or wrong here, it’s just a brand style preference.
Punctuation is often a tricky guideline to define. What’s your stance on the Oxford comma? Which dash style do you go to? Not everyone is into their punctuation, so depending on your industry you can get away with having a dash preference.
Hashtags can be a great method to increase your reach, but you need to know how to use them. Do you use branded hashtags to collect user-generated content? If so, make a list of all branded (including campaign) hashtags you need to be aware of. You shouldn’t remove any hashtags from this list even if a campaign has finished. You may need to refer back to the content later down the line or it could be used to spark some inspiration for a new campaign.
You also need to know how many hashtags you can use. You won’t need to set a minimum number of hashtags, but what’s the maximum?
Using user-generated content can be highly beneficial for brands, but it’s important to do so correctly and consistently. You should always ask for permission and credit the original creator. Many brands choose to use the camera emoji before tagging the original creator’s account.
Social media guidelines for brands do more than specify the language used; they also determine how content looks and feels.
If you already have a brand colour palette, these should be the colours you use consistently across your social media posts. The same goes for any brand fonts.
Within your social media guideline, you should also have each individual logo listed along with how it should be used. For example, many brands have a logo including their full brand name but they also have a simplified version that can be used as a watermark.
What are social media guidelines for?
Social media guidelines for brands are used as a reference tool for creating content and posting on social media. Language, tone and appearance can be inconsistent, so using social media guidelines helps brands maintain a consistent appearance and sound online.
Social media guidelines ensure that each member of your social media team talks and writes about and for your brand in a way that supports your brand image and goals.
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