Why you need a Social Media Style Guide

by Catherine Davies

Social media marketing and digital strategy can seem terrifying at the outset – there are so many options to choose from…Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat, Vine, YouTube, Google+, Instagram etc.

How do you know which one to choose, if any at all! how do you break into the conversation? how do you even start the conversation in such an over-crowded space?

From the number of characters used in each message to the way links and images appear, there are so many things that are changing on the various social platforms that it can be hard to keep up. Not to mention how these affect social media publishing and branding styles. A relatively easy way to manage these changes while remaining consistent across each platform is to develop a social media style guide for everyone in your organisation – whether big or small.

Before you talk, listen:  What are people saying about you?

Who is talking? List who’s talking, about what, and where. Remember you should be providing a benefit to the reader or listener, not selling them on your product or services.

Social Media Checklist:

Before launching a social media presence, make sure your time will be well spent. Create a social media plan by writing out answers to the following questions:

1. Responsible people: Who will be responsible for populating, maintaining, and monitoring your social media presence? Do they have the right skills and the time? List these team members.

2. Goals and strategies: What do you hope to do? Launch a campaign, promote your company, communicate externally? Who is your audience? Define your goal and list all your tactics

3. Audience:  List your primary audiences. Do you have secondary ones, too? How will you reach out to them initially? Remember, simply setting up a Facebook page or being on Twitter isn’t enough. You must invite people there, and have a plan to keep them interested.

4. Defining and measuring success: What do you hope to gain? How will you know when you are on the right path? Do you want increased traffic to your website? More energetic conversations with prospective or current clients? Define success, how you’ll measure it, and the tools you need to measure it, e.g. Google Analytics.

5. Engagement and conversations: Nobody likes it when you talk constantly about yourself. It demonstrates poor social skills. The same applies here – you need to be a good conversationalist. Sometimes small talk is more valuable than messaging. How will you engage informally with your audience?

6. Content is King: What content will you share? Is it news or engagement based? Images? Video? Audio? List the content you will be sharing via social media and the kinds of things you think are successful. Remember, it’s social, so it shouldn’t always be about you. Sometimes, it should be about your clients or an industry concern. How will you foster the loyalty required to keep them interested and coming back for more?

7. Monitoring and Feedback: Maintain regular evaluations of your efforts based on the plan. Set out your timeline. Be nimble – ready to tweak your content and strategy to suit the programme.

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