How to Create a Social Media Guide for your Brand?

In this day and age, very likely that you have a social media account. With penetration of smartphones and high speed internet connectivity, chances are, you are at least on one platform if not all; Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tik Tok, Snapchat. 

 

You would have consumed content from your favorite brands in the form of social posts or updates or just brand films. 

What makes you follow a channel? Or a page? Most definitely the value addition it brings to your life, but also the consistency with which the message is delivered. 

 

Think of the following brands

Lux. Always a popular Bollywood Actress endorsing them.

Close-Up. Fresh breath after using their toothpaste will get your closer to you partner

Dove. No celebrity endorsement. Simple message with clean, fresh faces. Breaking Beauty stereotypes

 

 These brands are not related. They don’t talk to each other. Yet, they all display similar traits. How is this possible?

Most brands must have the following in order to make some mind space in today’s hyper competitive world where everyone is vying for a pie of consumer attention.

  1. Consistency
  2. Tone

  3. Voice

  4. Imagery

  5. Value 

 

How do brands have the above components?

It’s because they have a SOCIAL BRAND GUIDE . 

It’s possible that many confuse between a social brand guide and a social media strategy. 

No, the two are not the same. 

 

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOCIAL STRATEGY AND SOCIAL BRAND GUIDE

A brand’s Social strategy will consist of tactical information. 

Like:

  • What to publish
  • How much to publish
  • How often to publish
  • What is the social media goal
  • What metrics are crucial for the success of the brand/ campaign.

 

On the other hand, a social style guide breaks down components of the brand’s strategy.

Like:

  • How to convey the message
  • Is the Brand copy heavy or image heavy
  • Will the voice be friendly and approachable or sarcastic and witty
  • Will the brand use acronyms
  • Is the brand keen on using a lot of social hashtags or few

A social guide uses the brand voice and tone to amplify the social strategy. Without a social guide, a strategy will look scattered and confused. Most importantly, will perplex the audience.

So, why does a brand need a social style guide?

  1. Most importantly- For consistency. Without a social style guide, a brand is likely to be lost. Your strategy might be to gain a million followers in 3 months. But it’s highly unlikely you will get there if your core messaging and voice in not consistent
  2. Less scope for error- When you have a guide, you are unlikely to go wrong. It’s like having a map while driving to an unknown destination. A map guides you. Tells you the fastest or shortest route, highlights traffic, leaves very little scope for error. Same with a social media style guide. 

So, how then do you go about building a social media guide for your brand?

1. Know your audience

This is crucial. This lays the foundation for all the other steps to follow. Your brand voice, tone and visual language will be determined basis your audience. Are they women? Are they millennials? Are they older with different sets of responsibilities in life? Perhaps, your brand guide will have a very casual tone with a lot of acronyms if your audience is more Gen Z. Maybe the designs will be simple and classy if your audience is from metros with a sizable disposable income. Not just your audience demographics but even their psychographics is key to determine your brand social guide. 

2. Brand Personas

 

A brand persona in an imaginary persona who uses or could use your brand. You then add traits, characteristics , values,  attitude and even a catchy name  to that. For example, Marketing Manjeet is 35-46 years, male, living in Delhi, married with no kids. He likes to watch movies and is brand conscious. He is also very particular about his health and works out at an upmarket fitness studio 6 days a week.  

You can add as many details as possible to Manjeet’s personality. Similarly, you segment your audience into different demographics and attitudes and come out with at least 3-4 brand personas. Having less will not serve the purpose and having more than 5 will cause confusion as traits and behaviour will start over lapping at some point of time. 

3. Brand Voice

Once you know your audience and personas, go ahead and make an outlook for your brand voice. It’s crucial that you keep your audience and personas in  mind and not your own preference. Is your voice going to be funny or serious? Witty or sarcastic? This voice will then determine how your social touch points talk to your audience, be it your blog post, website, social platforms and emails. If the brand voice is not determined early on, as always, it will lead to more confusion for your audience. They will not be able to determine what you stand for. If your values and voice are confusing them, they will choose to not follow you. And you don’t want that. 

4. Grammar and Acronyms

This may seem insignificant but is a crucial part of your guide. If your product or service is about helping patients with mental illness, you do not want to use acronyms or adopt a funny approach to it. It’s a serious matter and using acronyms may showcase a casual attitude. Some brands like to write lengthy descriptions and take a very detailed approach in their social touch points. Some brands only use emojis. Keep the golden pillars of your audience and brand personas in mind. 

5. Design & Look of every post

Graphics and design are key elements that bring out your brand personality.  What colours will you use? Where will you place your  brand logo? How big or small will it be? What will your font be?  

Forget confusing your audience. Having your design guidelines in place will save you a lot of time and effort. It’s easier to start with a hand book that will align everyone on the team no matter how large or small the team is. 

6. Use of Hashtags

 

Hashtags increase engagement. But not at the cost of content. If you add a hundred hashtags to a badly designed post, you will be trolled or not receive any engagement. Some key questions to consider are:

  • How many hashtags per post?
  • Will the hashtags be the same across social platforms?
  • What will determine the relevancy of hashtag? 
  • Will you use competitor hashtags?

 

7. Relationship Management

 

If you are present on social, you are likely to receive engagements from your audience in the form of comments. Any social media team will want to only increase engagement. So, no matter how negative the comments get, it’s advisable to not turn off your comments. When the going is good, all is well. But how will you respond to queries or a negative & insulting comment? Most brands maintain a professional tone. But a lot of brands also get personal, they do justify their stand on a problem. This is not recommended at all. Remember, a lot of people are watching and reading your comments. They are forming a perception about your brand. Having a guide line on how to respond to queries, complaints, trolls and competition is an important part of your brand social guideline. 

While this may seem a lot, most of it is common sense. Common sense also says that it’s best to have the guide in place before you put your brand on social media. Remember, this is only a guide. It’s not set in stone. As your brand evolves, so will your audience, so will your communication. This is not to say that  you should make a new social guide for your brand every month. But be flexible, be open to ideas, use data to make decisions.

Take the right step to create, engage and grow your brand on social.