If you’ve ever tried to “dress for success” without a clear definition of what that means, chances are, you’ve made some questionable wardrobe choices.
It could be true that stripes demonstrate boldness, sneakers paired with dresses or suits signal creativity, and black turtlenecks register seriousness. But if they aren’t you, they signal a whole lot of…well, not you.
When we think about how to dress up our social channels without a style guide, it can be a lot like rummaging around in the wardrobe hoping you’ll find something that works.
Is this post too edgy? Will it make our brand appear more professional? Does it communicate our vision?
This is where your social style guide can become your fashionable new best friend.
Whether you have multiple people writing your social updates or you just want a reference to help keep yourself consistent, here’s how you can write a guide that’ll explain all the ins and outs!
Remember that your brand voice = your style guide voice
The absolute best way to communicate your brand voice is to keep it consistent across everything you do.
A style guide is not a technical manual. The social space is conversational and succinct, and your style guide should be too.
If you’re down with posting terrible puns, mention that in your social guide. If you stick to just the facts and keep it serious, say so!
A style guide doesn’t have to be long and elaborate. You want it to be a quick reference, so that whether you’re sitting down to fill your social queue or reacting in real time to an event that’s unfolding, you have no doubt about what to write – or how to write it.
Social evolves, too – and so should your social media style guide.
That’s one of the coolest things about social, actually: when you have an idea, you can get it out there immediately, and start conversations with your followers to gauge the impact!
Documenting your best posts in your social style guide provides a simple model for what works – and these examples can be replaced over time as you get to know your audience.
Why waste time explaining how to write a post when you can show it?
(If your brand is new to social, you can drop in images of posts you like from other brands – ones with a tone similar to what you imagine for your own.)
It can also be useful to document examples of social media gone wrong. We don’t mean your own social media (we sincerely hope you never have any Tweet regret) – but a social media fail can illustrate a clear boundary for where you never, ever want to go!
Set the stage
This super short and simplesocial style guide from MailChimp (complete with banana-yellow flair, of course) is an excellent example of how you can highlight the basics.
First of all, where do you post? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium? All of the above?
Explain any differences in length, content, and voice between platforms, and add an example or two for each. It’s also the place to tackle topics like: