How to establish a branding guideline for your business
This is Chapter 2, Part 2 from the Branding on Social Media Guide.
What are ‘brand guidelines’?
The key here is to make your brand memorable with Branding Guidelines.
Brand Guidelines are a set of rules about the best way to represent your brand across your social media channels, helping your business build credibility and recognition as you grow.
Here are the key elements forward-thinking social media brand guidelines include:
- visual guidelines (logo usage, color palette, typography)
- your company’s mission
- mission statement
- brand voice guidelines
Social media is one of the most effective tools to market your brand and stand out from the crowd. Therefore, when done correctly, social media branding will ensure you connect to your target audience in the best way possible.
Social media branding is a key part of your overall marketing efforts.
Don’t hesitate to use the power of social media to build a strong network of followers who are loyal to your brand – they are the ones who will turn into your passionate buyers.
Your No.1 goal is to grow awareness, which means social media branding should be a priority for your brand.
What you need to understand is that branding is a key stage for any business that is interested in generating a long-term business.
You need to define clearly what you stand for while attracting followers that are likely to turn into loyal customers. Give people a reason to trust you by using a great branding strategy.
When you get your social branding right, it’s almost a given that the rest of the sales process becomes more effective.
The benefits of having social media guidelines
First of all, the best thing about guidelines is that they can provide much more detailed information and setting for your brand’s strategy. And that’s something you need.
Here’s what you can achieve by creating clear social media guidelines:
- You’ll have your employees/team members in agreement on what to do on social media by knowing exactly what is expected of them
- You or your team members will have the confidence to efficiently engage on social media
- You’ll have a framework for your social media strategy
- You’ll be able to easily realize when and where things don’t fall in line with the guidelines
- You’ll be able to educate everyone in your organization regarding social media best practices
- You’ll ensure the protection of your brand’s reputation on your social media platforms
Social media guidelines you should know about
Interacting with influencers
Interacting with others is a key part of social media. And so is interacting with influencers.
But, how exactly do you do that?
Particularly as a brand, you’ll want to make sure that your team is well trained in knowing how and when to connect with influencers on social media. And to be able to prevent any miscommunication taking place between you/your team and a key influencer in your industry, you’ll need to establish some general social media guidelines.
The first step at this point is to decide whether you want your team to engage with any influencer or not.
Choose and establish which team members can connect with influencers and explain why. This will bring clarity among your team members and will most likely save you from any embarrassment on social media.
Social customer service
The great thing about social media customer service is that it can help you get a better understanding, on a deeper level, about your audience and customers. How? Well, through their pain points, expressed concerns and needs, questions, feedback, and so on.
Being such an important part of the social media guidelines, you need to make sure everyone understands that the customer’s needs have to become a priority.
Have a look at the social media customer service guidelines you need to take into consideration:
- Point out the people in your team who will have the authority to address social customer support inquiries.
- Discuss and implement ways the company plans to deal with complaints.
- Establish the target response time for social media customer service inquiries.
- Settle the type of key messaging you use to deal with the most common inquiries.
- Set up a system so each inquiry gets addressed just once.
- Decide on the next steps once the inquiries are addressed.
Keep in mind that satisfied and happy customers are the heart of your business. So, make sure everyone on your team knows how to handle things when it comes to customer service.
Here’s what the author of ‘The Zappos Experience’, Joseph Michelli, says in his book: “Zappos invests in the call center not as a cost, but the opportunity to market. Their whole strategy is to create loyalty through ‘wow’ moments and emotional connections.”
And, here’s what their customers have to say about them:
The bottom line: focus on creating a culture of people who believe in your brand and share your company’s values. These people will become your loyal customers.
Aaaa, the photos! Say cheese! 😎
Images are so important and yet sometimes used with such ease. With no regard to what messages they send to the viewer.
Images speak louder than words. And choosing the right image to represent your message can be crucial. So, make sure that everyone in charge of your social media platforms knows how to properly and legally use photos. It is a must.
Keep in mind that it’s incredibly important that your profile and visual content are up to date, applied correctly, and have a professional look. You need to look professional for your audience to perceive you as a professional.
We know, we know, it can be a lot of pressure to be active on all your social media platforms, not to mention keeping up with the latest trends and techniques. Yet you do, and not just content-wise, but image-wise, too.
So, besides the great copy, you need to come up with for all your social media platforms, you need to also focus on your visual content. Additionally, you need to make sure your image is being seen how you intend it to and that the dimensions are correct. You don’t want anything cut off or stretched out of proportion. And now let your imagination go wild… 😁
Anyway, here are the most important aspects when choosing your images:
- Opt for the best image size for each social media platform.
- Know how to choose an effective social media photo.
- Be aware of the differences in licenses and what image licenses you are allowed to use and work with.
- Know where to find great photos. While you can opt to buy beautiful images for you and your team to use, you can also choose to look for free stock photos which can be an excellent alternative to paid ones. Besides, there are some amazing free stock photos out there, just take the time to look for them. (Pexels, Pixabay, Unsplash, etc).
- Choose the right images that work hand in hand with your brand’s voice. Otherwise, you’ll send mixed messages that will confuse your audience.
In case your social media strategy involves paid opportunities as well, consider setting some clear advertising guidelines. Besides the general advertising guidelines, be sure to take note of the following guidelines as well:
- Be clear on budgets and expected costs.
- Discuss the planned timelines and advertising campaign lengths.
- Ensure you deliver the proper advertising copy and design process.
- Be aware of the goals of your brand’s advertising efforts.
Create a social media Style Guide
You may not be interested in style. Heck, maybe you don’t even know what your own style is.
But, your social media profile definitely needs a style. Why? Because style, my friend, speaks volumes when it comes to your brand.
What you’ll love about discovering and following a style guide, is that it will prevent a lot of embarrassing slip-ups your company may be doing without such a guide. Therefore, by simply investing some time into creating a social media style guide, you or your team will be avoiding a whole lot of big mistakes down the line.
Not to worry, we’re here to help you put together a style guide.
When done with creating this style guide, everyone on your team will be on the same page regarding:
- What’s the right approach when it comes to social media postings.
- What language to use.
- Which photos are appropriate to be posted (and which are most definitely not).
- Knowing the proper way to respond to an upset customer on social media – you know, swearing, and giving an upset customer a piece of your mind is never a good approach… ouch!
1. What is a style guide?
Have you ever seen social media profiles (on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) that look like they have a bunch of people handling their accounts?
That’s mainly because of the style of the caption, the tone of voice is different each time they post something. When that happens, it’s most likely because they don’t have a clear social media style guide. And it’s super confusing and even annoying at times.
A social media style guide is all about the way your brand appears and performs on your social media platforms – what your audience clearly sees and understands about your brand.
When you create your style guide make sure to include:
- your brand colors
- visual guidelines (images, GIFs, etc)
- and everything else that should distinguish your brand from other brands on social media.
The point is that regardless of how many people handle your social profiles, the tone and appearance of each Tweet, Facebook post or Instagram caption should have a quite similar tone and visual. Or, simply put, the style and approach should always be the same.
Your social media style guide is different from your social media marketing strategy.
A marketing strategy consists of strategic information – defining what and how often you post on social media. What you do here, is focus on how to reach your social media goals.
So, your marketing strategy in fact features what you plan on doing on social media, whereas your style guide explains the way the activity on your social media profiles should be represented and obviously expressed.
Your social media strategy gives details on the type of content you plan to publish, whereas your style guide is there to explain how that planned out content should look when it’s posted on the social media platforms.
2. What are the benefits of using a social media style guide?
✔️ Brand Personality
By creating a style guide, you are basically developing your brand’s personality. And having a distinct personality, an unmistakable brand voice on social media is helpful long term. In fact, it can make the difference between brand success and failure.
✔️ Less error
As I’ve mentioned in the above, when the style is clear and you or everyone on your team is on the same page regarding the style that needs to be approached when sharing content on social media, there’s no to low chance someone will mess things up when posting.
By having a social media style guide you’ll have less room for error.
✔️ A quick understanding of your brand
When you hire new employees to work on your social platforms, or you have a new colleague in the marketing team, you can do a quick and simple onboarding regarding your brand’s style. This way they’ll have a better understanding of how to represent your company on social media platforms.
How to develop your brand voice and tone on social media
Apparently, 71% of consumers will unfollow a brand on social media due to being embarrassed by the brand. Studies also show that 41% say they have unfollowed brands who don’t share relevant, interesting content.
With that in mind, you should really pay attention to the kind of content and style of voice you use when posting on social media – you don’t want your audience to be embarrassed and unfollow you. Just saying.
Now, the first thing we need to establish here is that:
On social media, voice and tone aren’t one and the same thing.
Whaaat? No, we don’t like to complicate things, no… but, you need to understand the difference between the terms and approaches on social media.
You can thank us later. 😉
Your social media voice refers to what you sound like on your social media platforms (funny or sarcastic, clever/smart or professional), whereas your tone refers to the way you say things (kindly, yelling).
Also, the tone of your voice will trigger different responses according to the tone you choose to use.
Stop for a moment and think about how your brand sounds like on all of your social media channels. Does it represent you? Is it the same voice and tone everywhere?
How do you find out what your brand sounds like? Compare what it is to what it is not.
Here’s for example how MailChimp describes their brand’s voice online:
- “Fun but not silly
- Confident but not cocky
- Smart but not stodgy
- Informal but not sloppy
- Helpful but not overbearing
- Expert but not bossy
- Weird but not inappropriate”
You need to find the defining characteristics that would help you figure out exactly what your voice is and what it is not.
Your social media voice is one of the top things that differentiate your brand from… well, other brands. And, don’t forget, your voice should be consistent on all of your social channels.
So, if you are friendly on Twitter, don’t be way too formal or serious on Facebook. You’ll send a confusing message to your audience. Besides, they might not even recognize it’s the same brand on both social platforms. Which is bad for your band.
What you need to understand is that your brand’s voice should reflect the way you want your brand to be perceived by your followers. Here are a few examples you can choose from:
- Laid back
The next step is to create and develop your social media tone. How do you do that?
Obviously there are unlimited options when it comes to finding your tone. But keep in mind that you’ll have a better presence and experience if the tone on all of your social platforms is the same.
The best way to create your tone is to think about how you want your audience to perceive your social media messages.
Here’s how MailChimp describes their tone of voice:
“MailChimp’s tone is usually informal, but it’s always more important to be clear than entertaining. When you’re writing, consider the reader’s state of mind. Are they relieved to be finished with a campaign? Are they confused and seeking our help on Twitter? Are they curious about a post on our blog? Once you have an idea of their emotional state, you can adjust your tone accordingly.
MailChimp has a sense of humor, so feel free to be funny when it’s appropriate and when it comes naturally to you. But don’t go out of your way to make a joke—forced humor can be worse than none at all. If you’re unsure, keep a straight face.”
Also, consider finding answers to the few questions listed below. When you have the answers to these questions, you’ll basically know what to do.
- How do I want my audience to perceive my messages posted on my social media platforms?
- What kind of feelings am I looking to generate when my audience reads my captions on my social platforms?
- What is the tone of my general posts shared on a regular basis?
- What’s the tone I would like to use for the less frequent messages?
- Should I include slang or popular jargon?
As soon as you’ve figured out which voice and tone work best to represent your brand, make sure to add the info in your social media style guide created inside your company. And then, go ahead, let the world get to know you. Let your voice be heard in social media!
The better you manage to define your brand with the right voice and tone, the greater the impact – which means the bigger your success!
Why is the tone of voice important?
- It’s a clear expression of the people behind the brand
- It sets your brand apart from the rest
- It builds trust and identity
Starbucks is a great example of a clear voice and tone. They are unique, they have their customers trusting and loving their brand. They have an impact. They are successful.
Here’s what they stand for: “Inspiring and nurturing the human spirit—one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time.”
Also, here’s what their Facebook description says:
“Starbucks has an unusually human approach to business. We always figured that putting people before products just made good common sense. Our relationships with farmers yield the highest quality coffees. The connections we make in communities create a loyal following. Our ability to accomplish what we set out to do is based primarily on the people we hire – we call each other “partners.” We are always focused on our people.”
Their message, voice and tone is a clear expression of the people behind the brand.
Here’s what they have to say about their Facebook presence:
“Come on in. This space is not so different from your neighborhood Starbucks. It’s a place where people from all over come together for conversation and great coffee.
We welcome your ideas, feedback, and constructive criticism. “
Don’t you simply just love Starbucks? 🙂
How to customize your URLs
Shortened URLs. Custom short links. Do these words make any sense to you?
If it’s still not clear what custom short links are used for, it’s time to clarify things. 👀
What is a custom short link?
The answer to this is simpler than you think: a custom short link is basically a shortened URL that you have customized before sharing it. Profound explanation, we know. 😛
How can you customize URLs before sharing them?
There are 2 ways you can do that:
– By purchasing a unique branded domain for the beginning of your link
– By adding your unique combination of keywords to your URL Slug
What are the benefits of a custom link?
- You’ll stand out from the crowd 👍
- You increase your link trust 👌
- You can raise CTR (Click Through Rate) by up to 39%. 👆
Tip: By having a keyword(s) at the end of your URL you’ll make your links SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly.
We want to use the opportunity to mention our friends over at Rebrandly. What these guys are doing with URLs is simply amazing and definitely worth trying. Especially, if you want to improve your online presence and reinforce your brand.
Image source: Rebrandly
Why should you rebrand your links?
- Improve brand visibility
- Be unique and stand out
- Increase link trust
- Protect your brand
- Structure your links
- Be pronounceable and memorable
Image source: Rebrandly
Links are the main touchpoint between you and your customers. Every time you click, tap or swipe you’re using a link. Rebrandly provides the most complete link management solution that puts your brand first.
David De Guz, Founder of Rebrandly
- Because it’s the most complete solution for link management
- It’s fast, easy, and there’s no technical expertise required
Image source: Rebrandly
Simply pick the domain that suits you best and you’re ready to go in just a few minutes. Rebrandly will take care of all the setup for you.
The bottom line:
- Make URLs short and sweet with our short URL Domains
- Make your links short by using our own URL shorteners. Your links will be short and sweet.
- Get both looks and brains with Rebrandly’s URL Shortening
- Connect your Rebrandly account to get Your Brand on Your Links. Access all their stats and link pixeling functionality.
Now that you know what short links are, enjoy using them – they are really cool! 😉
Would you like to read the full Guide? Read the full guide and discover the secrets behind successful brands.