If your firm has a presence on social media, you need a style guide.
What is a social media style guide?
Creating a style guide will make it easy for anyone in your business to post in a way that’s consistent and compliant.
It will set out your tone of voice, topics to cover, approved posters and the agreed sign-off process.
Your social media style guide should provide governance and guidance. It should cover brand, compliance and processes.
Put in place an effective handbook for Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and whatever other platforms you use, and you make it possible for your team to share content confident that it meets corporate and regulatory standards.
What should your social media style guide cover?
So – what should be in your style guide? Here are the 8 things we believe it should include.
1. Complete list of channels and accounts
A comprehensive directory of all the platforms you use, with account names and passwords, should be the first item in your guide. Include URLs so anyone picking it up can easily find your accounts.
List out all your registered users – people in the business who are authorised to post on the firm’s behalf. Keep this manageable – the more people who have access, the higher the chance of a non-compliant or off-message post.
2. Clear objectives
Everyone who publishes needs a clear vision of your aims in using social media.
Set out what you’re trying to achieve, whether that’s increased brand awareness, driving traffic to your website, increasing your firm’s association with certain key issues, interaction with clients and prospects – or all of these.
If you need some help setting your goals, read our tips on how to create a successful social media strategy.
3. Breakdown of your audience
Identifying who you want to reach via your social strategy is vital.
Your audience is likely to include existing and potential clients, third parties and industry influencers. Depending on your objectives, you may also want to talk to potential employees.
Your guide needs to clearly define your audience. This will help to make sure they are at the heart of your strategy.
4. Branding guidelines
Your social media needs to be on-brand. This means not just logos but brand-compliant imagery, tone of voice, the use of gifs, videos or photos.
Make your brand assets easy to access and use. Lock down approved imagery and logos in an online slide library. Link to brand-compliant assets in your guide and you minimise the chances of errors creeping in – as well as saving time.
Include brand rules on issues like acronyms, capitalisation, approved colours and your guide will be a comprehensive brand handbook for users.
Where will your publishers find social media content? This can often be the most challenging aspect of publishing on Twitter or Linkedin. Where do you find content that engages your readers and delivers shares and clicks?
Your guide needs to set out potential sources of content in your business. This might include:
- Corporate blogs
- Press releases
- Whitepapers and guides
Our blog on how to build the most successful content marketing methodology has more suggestions. Content that maximises reader engagement and is shareable are essential for success. Your guide needs to clearly show users where to find it.
6. Publishing hints and tips
There are lots of useful shortcuts that can make social media marketing quicker, easier and more effective.
Include these and your guide will help you publish content more frequently – and with better results.
- Hashtags – include guidance on their use. If you’re a regulated business, you need to bear in mind the FCA stance on hashtags.
- Link shortening. For Twitter in particular, shortening links via sites like bitly.com or buffer.com increases the characters you have to write your message, as well as providing useful metrics. Include guidance and links.
- Do you have preferences around length of posts (for Linkedin or Facebook, for instance, where you have more leeway). Make these clear if so.
7. Optimal posting times and frequencies
How active are your accounts? Outline whether you aim to share content once an hour, day or week. Frequency may well vary depending on the channel.
Do you always publish at certain times? Monitoring the success of your social media output should enable you to identify the most successful times for your messages.
Should you post at regular intervals through the day, or cluster your messages – for example, at commuting or lunch times? Set out clear expectations.
If you work in a regulated industry, compliance with regulatory requirements is essential.
If you’re governed by the Financial Conduct Authority, your guide needs to include details of the FCA policy on social media. Make sure users are familiar with the rules on prominence and the need for content that is fair, clear and not misleading.
Make sure users understand that social media posts are regulated in the same way as other financial promotions. This means that they need Compliance team approval and a compliant audit trail.
If you mandate Compliance sign off via an automated review and approvals system, ensure users have access and know how to use it.
Include these eight components, and you are well on your way to producing a valuable, practical resource. With the upcoming GDPR regulations predicted to increase firms’ use of social media, having a clear strategy and compliant approach is more important than ever.
A social, media guide means that anyone publishing on behalf of your business can create on-brand, compliant posts that follow your established best practices on content and frequency.
If you think that the compliance aspects will prove a challenge for your business, you can get more advice by downloading our 10 best practices for compliant social media. The tip sheet is free and you can download it here.