One of the biggest challenges businesses face during the creation of their brand’s social media guidelines, is the actual implementation. What should your brand look like on social? How should your brand sound and interact with customers? How can you keep your image consistent and ensure that your social media presence stays in line with your core values as a company?
Whether you consult the help of an agency or have an in-house team member managing your social, it’s extremely helpful to have social media guidelines in place. This important document will ensure consistency and quality, as well as a guide for anyone communicating with the public on behalf of your company. It’s an essential part of your overall brand manual, which steers all of your written and visual marketing.
Benefits of Social Media Style Guidelines
Main benefits include:
- It allows your team to stay consistent with tone, format, style and acceptable imagery
- It acts as a set of guidelines for clear social media content
- It puts expectations and standards for quality content
- It is an important part of the strategy and execution sections of your brand manual
- It ensures brand alignment
- It clearly defines the way content should look and sound to customers
- It serves as a reference point to your team when posting on company social media channels
Many businesses have an editorial or graphic standards guide as part of their brand manual, which includes guidelines for the use of tone, logos, fonts and colors. However, when considering social media and marketing, your brand manual must dig a bit deeper to include strategy and execution.
Social Media Distribution Guidelines
Here are the basic social media points that you and your team should consult on for your social media distribution guidelines. Keep in mind, this will become a document that will need to be revisited and refreshed often as you continue to refine your brand image and learn more about your audience.
Choose Relevant Channels
Nowadays, there are so many social media channels out there that it can be an intimidating task to take hold of. Because of the overwhelming amount of channels, picking the right place to connect can be a confusing decision. Breathe easy though as we say this next sentence: You don’t have to be on every social media network out there.
In fact, it’s encouraged that you choose your channels wisely and go where your customers are. Take a nursing home for example. If your buyer personas land in the age range of 30-65+ years of age, it wouldn’t make sense for your brand to spend their marketing efforts on Snapchat. This is why knowing who your audience is, is such an integral part of your brand strategy and execution. Choosing the channels where you have the best chance at connecting with your buyer personas means you’ll waste less time and make more money.
By evaluating each network carefully, and choosing the right ones for you, where your customers already are, you’ll be able to maximize your time and ensure that your efforts result in a return on investment.
Create a Content Calendar
Once you’ve decided which social networks are best for your brand to be present on, it’s time to decide what your goals are for each channel. A content calendar is the easiest way to do this because it allows your team to organize the way you curate and create content.
To make your life easier, choose content themes for your social media content schedule. This way you’ll know what kind of content to post each day, with the flexibility to use different forms of content. The best way to organize your content calendar is by creating the calendar month to month. If you want to be really organized, you can break your activities down further into weekly or daily calendars.
Ideal content themes you may incorporate include:
- Monday – Motivational quotes related to your Buyer Persona
- Tuesday – Post about local happenings
- Wednesday – Share from a related brand
- Thursday – Open
- Friday – Mailing list push
- Saturday – Lifestyle post or quote
- Sunday – Blog post with link back to blog
This basic plan will give your content calendar a foundation to cover all of your company’s objectives, while keeping a constant stream of content.
With a social media content calendar, your team is able to ensure brand consistency and publish high-quality, well-written, high-performing content pieces. However you choose to plan your calendar, be sure to share the final product with all the members of your company to create congruency.
Decide Posting Frequency
Although it’s not directly related to writing style, the frequency and timing of your posts are just as important to how your brand is perceived. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer’s persona. Do they check their Facebook more on weekends or at the beginning of the week? Are they active in the morning or at lunch or after dinner? Make a posting schedule and stick to it! Consistency is key.
Some things to consider when deciding on post frequency:
- How much content do you already have?
- How much content can you handle creating?
- How much time can you dedicate to social media (if this isn’t your only function)
- How is your audience reacting to your current post frequency?
Your frequency is going to be defined and refined by your stats, so be sure review and update this section of your social media style guide regularly. Through a lot of research and even more experimentation, you will find the time of day to post that gets you the most engagement with your personas.
Unify your Branding
Once you’ve chosen your social media networks and decided on a posting scheduled it’s time to get in touch with your design team. Your design team should have design standards surrounding your brand, specific to social media. (If you don’t already have brand standards for design, you might want to start with a brand style guide)
You want your personas to have a seamless brand experience, and the design of your social pages is important to that experience. The branding on your social media profiles should align with the branding that you use on your company website.
Choose the Right Content
Did you know social media messages with images get 75% more clicks than those that don’t have a photo. Additionally, video content for social is supposed to take over in 2017. Determining the types of images and videos to share on your networks, along with formatting and dimensions is important.
Here are the current image guidelines for the most popular social networks. (Keep in mind, these networks are always updating so be sure to research this information on a timely basis.)
Facebook Image Sizes
- Profile Picture: 180 x 180 (Displays 160 x 160 on Desktop)
- Cover Photo: 820 x 312
- Shared Image: 1,200 x 630
- Shared Link: 1,200 x 627
- Event Image: 1920 x 1080 (Recommended)
Twitter Image Sizes
- Profile Photo: 400 x 400 (Displays 200 x 200)
- In-Stream Photo: Minimum 440 x 220 (2:1 Ratio)
Instagram Image Sizes
- Profile Picture: 110 x 110
- Photo Thumbnails: 161 x 161
- Photo Size: 1080 x 1080
Linkedin Image Sizes
- Personal Profile Picture: 400 x 400 (Recommended)
- Personal Background Image: Between 1000 x 425 and 4000 x 4000
- Banner Image for Brand (Company) Pages: 646 x 220 (Minimum)
- Standard Logo: 400 x 400
- Square Logo: 60 x 60
- Hero Image: 974 x 330
Pinterest Image Sizes
- Profile Picture: 165 x 165
- Pin Image Sizes:
- Pins on main page appear as 236 pixels (height is scaled).
- Pins on a board appear as 236 pixels (height is scaled).
- Expanded pins have a minimum width 600 pixels (height is scaled).
- It’s recommended to use an image aspect ratio of 2:3 to 1:3.5
Google+ Image Sizes
- Profile Picture: 250 x 250 (recommended)
- Cover Image: 1,080 x 608
- Shared Image: 497 x 373 (displays as)
- Shared Link: 150 x 150 (thumbnail)
- Shared Video: Width of 496 pixels
Youtube Image Sizes
- Channel Cover Photo: 2,560 x 1,440
- Display Sizes
- Tablet display: 1,855 x 423.
- Mobile display: 1,546 x 423.
- TV display: 2,560 x 1,440.
- Desktop: 2,560 x 423 (1,546 x 423 pixels are always visible). Flexible Area (may be visible): 507 pixels to the left and 507 pixels to the right of the safe area.
Brand Guidelines Accessibility
Be sure to make your social media style guide accessible to all departments of your company. This guide should not stay exclusively in the marketing department. From human resources to operations, your entire team should have access. It explains what your brand represents, how it should be perceived, and what the goals are within the company.