Mastering social media publishing in 2016 is just as much an art as it is a science. From the number of characters used in each message to the way links and images appear, there are so many things are changing on the various social platforms that it can be hard to keep up. Not to mention how these affect social media publishing styles.
An easy way to manage these changes while remaining consistent across each platform is to develop a social media style guide. A social media style guide is the rule book for how social media managers will create messaging on social media. Similar to a writing style guide or content style guide, a social media style guide must cover these seven areas.
Social Media Style Guide Must-Haves
Every social media style guide should start with a clear and detailed description of the businesses buyer personas. These descriptions will contain information about the buyer demographics, job role, goals, challenges and more. When considering the interests of your personas think beyond their profession. Find answers to questions like, what kind of music do they listen to? What types of TV shows do they watch? What trending topics do you personas tweet about? All of this could be helpful information to have in order to make social messages more relevant to your personas.
You can discover this information by creating social monitoring streams to monitor a list of your personas in the HubSpot social monitoring tool. To get started, you'll want to monitor a list of all of your personas who mention keywords that are relevant to your business. You could also try monitoring a list of your personas and use keywords that are relevant to current events in order to learn about how they consume news and media (#MissUniverse2015).
Branding is the look and feel of your business. This will help you determine how you would like to dress each of your social media profiles. The branding that you use on your social media profiles should align with the branding that you use on your company website or other places on the web.
Here’s an example of how HubSpot customer, VisionWeb has branded their Twitter profile to match their company website. Notice how the colors used on the website match those used in the Twitter banner and profile.
VisionWeb also has startyouruprise.com and tie their brand in across both websites and products.
It’s important to outline the type of language that you will use as you address your audience. Will you speak in the first person or the third person? Will your messages be conversational or written for print? Other things to consider would be the voice and tone that you will choose to use. Voice is defined as the unchanging persona that your social media account will represent whereas tone will change to reflect the emotion that your message is trying to convey.
On the HubSpot Academy Team our Twitter account voice is educational, encouraging, helpful, and just a bit quirky, however, we adjust our tone to reflect the occasion.
Voice: Here’s an example of how the HubSpot Academy voice is helpful, encouraging, and educational.
Tone: In this example, the tone is sympathetic while the voice remains helpful.
4. Images, Videos, and Formatting
Images have become increasingly important for social media. In fact, social messages with images get 75% more clicks than messages that do not contain a photo. Additionally, video content on social is on the rise and is expected to play a huge role in social media marketing in 2016. That said, be sure to determine the types of images and videos that should be shared on social media, along with the dimensions and formatting of each media. Here’s a list of great visual design resources.
Attribution is meant to answer two questions: Who gets the credit? How do they get the credit? With the world wide web being so open, it’s important to disclose when a piece of content is not your own. This helps prevent things such as copyright infringement or even confusing audience members about the type of content that your team creates. At HubSpot, we have a few of ways to credit content contributors. One way is to include their handle at the end of a social message:
The other is to mention them directly in the social message:
Other ways to credit content contributors is to retweet or share their content directly into your newsfeed. No matter the method, be sure outline how you will attribute third party content. It will save you many headaches.
“What’s a hashtag and how do I use it?” This is a common question I get from customers who are new to using social media for their business. To put it simply, a hashtag is like an open chatroom for users on a specific social media platform, think back to AOL chatroom days. They group your messages with other messages about a specific topic. Hashtags are great for live events, such as webinars, conferences, or award shows. There are also industry-specific hashtags such as #InboundMarketing, #SMM, and #CRO.
Hashtags are not required for every social media post, but should have a special place in your social media style guide that includes the names of the hashtags you will use, which channels they will be shared to (never LinkedIn), and use cases for each one.
7. Never let it die
Similar to the U.S. Constitution, your social media style guide should be a living, breathing document that will be passed along to generations of social media managers to come, so don’t let it die. Remember that social media and an ever-changing Keep it up to date with new style guidelines and remove any that are out of date.
Don’t stop here, add additional areas that you feel are essential in order to establish and maintain a social media presence you can be proud of. What else are we missing? Let us know in the comments.