Effectively marketing your brand on social media often requires a collaborative effort from different members of your team. Having your brand’s social channels updated by different people allows you to bring a varying set of skills to your brand’s online voice. However, when you have many cooks working in the same kitchen, it’s important to make sure that everyone is following the same recipe. In this case, that recipe is a set of social media brand guidelines that will unify your social media marketing team.
These guidelines are not about policing your employees use of social media on your brand’s behalf but rather empowering them to work confidently and avoid errors or missteps. The social media brand guidelines will act as an actionable mission statement that brings your team together and helps them speak with a unified voice. Additionally, you’ll be able to onboard new employees more quickly.
This blog post covers 7 tips to help social media managers write effective social media brand guidelines for their business.
Create Two Sets of Policies
These Social Media Brand Guidelines address the use of a brand’s social media channels, but you’ll also want to have a separate set of guidelines that cover any policies you may have about your employee’s use of their personal accounts as it pertains to your brand. The law protects your employee’s right to discuss their workplace and its conditions with fellow employees in and outside of work as long as they are not disclosing proprietary information or discussing information protected by an NDA or HIPAA policy, for example.
Put It In Writing
Verbal guidelines may seem effective for small social media teams, but it is critical that your standards and policies be documented in writing. Make sure that everyone in your team has easy access to these guidelines and is notified when they are updated.
Outline Specific Guidelines for Different Social Channels
Something that may be appropriate for Twitter may seem terse and unprofessional on LinkedIn. Your social media strategy for Instagram posts will differ from your Facebook strategy. These guidelines should also be aware of best practices across social media accounts. These individual guidelines can cover as much detail as you find necessary but here are some suggestions:
- subject matter
- tone of voice
- examples of acceptable posts
- image sizes
- character limits
- recommended post times
- use of humor
When providing clarification, use examples of past posts that were acceptable and if applicable, posts that were not.
Clearly Establish Your Brand Voice Before you Authorize Your Team to Post on Your Brand’s Behalf
We use 4 categories to clearly define the social media voice and tone.
- Persona (Friendly, Warm, Playful, Authoritative, Professional)
- Tone (Personal, Honest, Humble, Critical, Direct)
- Language (Complex, Savvy, Serious, Casual, Use of Slang, Whimsical)
- Purpose (Engage, Educate, Inform, Entertain, Sell, Amplify)
Make an Off-limits List
Make a list of off-limits topics, words, hashtags, trade secrets, image types or anything else that you don’t want to associate with your brand. Make sure that your team knows that they can and should ask for approval from the Brand Manager if they have content they want to share but are uncertain if it aligns with the brand image.
The adage “ask for forgiveness, not permission” does not apply when it comes to social media. While you can delete posts, the internet is forever and one screenshot can immortalize a mistake. Here are some of the worst social media gaffes from 2019.
Create an On-Brand Topics List and Social Media Style Guide
Create an ongoing and collaborative list of topics that your employees might want to explore or research. Make sure your team knows that they are welcome to explore new ideas and bring a creative mindset to the table. In addition, this list might also include helpful information like appropriate fonts and sizes, color schemes, or regular hashtags that might be useful for the whole team to have on hand.
Inspire your Team with Plenty of Examples of Approved Content
Offset the off-limits list by giving your employees plenty of examples of approved content to help inspire them. You can even include posts from competitors or other brands that you like and want to emulate or out-do!
Include a Secure Access Protocol
This includes passwords and when, how and with which devices an employee can access and manage multiple social channels. We recommend using a Scheduling Program (e.g. CoSchedule) to access, post, and schedule social posts. This gives employees one secure login from which to access the social channels.
For example, if your employees are accessing Facebook and Instagram from their personal apps and devices, not only will the channels have to be linked to their personal accounts (Facebook), but there is a higher risk that they could accidentally post or respond to a notification from a personal account.
Have Your Lawyer Review Your Social Media Guidelines
While no one expects a trusted member of their team to make a mistake, they do happen, and it is best to have a policy in place if something goes wrong. You should clearly outline any consequences for violating those guidelines.
Great collaborative efforts from different team members is no easy feat, but setting up your brand’s online voice, code of conduct, and maintenance protocols in advance makes it possible. Using a set of Social Media Brand Guidelines can be the secret ingredient to unifying your team around your consistent brand.
Read more about Social Media Set-up, Management and Marketing.