With a staggering 3.5 billion active social media users worldwide, you are probably making sure several relevant platforms feature heavily in your marketing strategy. But do you maintain a cohesive brand presence across all those platforms?
Spreading your message across multiple platforms can result in a dilution of your brand identity, leading to confused customers and wasted marketing efforts. Consistency is key here, so we’ve pulled together our top 5 tips for creating a style guide to make your company social media proof!
1. Uncover your brand values
First things first. Before you even think about how to approach your social media marketing, you need to solidify your brand values.
If you aren’t sure of who you are, how can you expect anyone else to know? The fastest way to create customer indifference is to send out mixed messages as a result of internal confusion. Conversely, the best way to avoid obscurity is to create a solid brand identity, and that starts with brand values.
Take a look at the chart below and consider what your business does, whom it’s aimed at and what message you want to be associated with your brand.
You need to decide not only what your brand means but also how you want it to relate to the rest of the world.
Below is Uber’s principles guide, which details its strategy for conveying the company’s values.
Your brand values will inform everything you do, including how you interact with customers on social media, what type of events you participate in, what social messages you create and how you run your supply chains.
2. Create a visual identity
Once you’ve determined your brand values, you can weave them into your visual identity including your logo, typography and graphics style.
We humans can be simple creatures. We like what we know and gravitate towards familiar images. Keep everyone in your business on the same page by creating how-to and how-not-to guides, so every department stays on message.
One thing to consider is your color palette as it forms the basis for all your business visuals. It needs to reflect who you are and what you do.
We can all identify brands by their colors. Think Cadbury, Coca Cola, Amazon. This is no accident. These companies put their color palette to work in every piece of content they produce.
From the image above, you can see there is psychology behind colors. To choose your palette, think about what sets you apart from other companies. Draw on your values. What feelings do they convey, and what colors are those feelings associated with? Is your brand natural, industrial, fun, young, classical, or something else?
Take inspiration from Go Raw. The company makes healthy, organic snacks, and it has chosen natural, earthy tones associated with organic and fresh produce for its color palette.
3. Define your brand voice
Once you’ve settled on your brand values and visuals, use them to inform its tone of voice.
Take a look at these Twitter posts from Jack Daniel’s and Smirnoff. Both sell alcoholic drinks, but the tone they use couldn’t be more different.
Jack Daniel’s is associated with tradition, the American south, ruggedness and authority. And, in this tweet, the honeyed Southern drawl jumps out at you from the page. The words conjure up the image of an old man telling a story at the bar, which is a deliberate reflection of their tone of voice.
On the other hand, Smirnoff is associated with parties, fun, vitality and youth.
In the below tweet, they’ve partnered with The Bachelor to promote their new sparkling rosé drink. They use references from the show, playing off the “Will you accept this rose?” tagline to connect with their younger target demographic.
The moral of the story? Words are a powerful marketing strategy. When coming up with your own, consider who your target audience is and how you would have a conversation with them. Once you determine that, describe it in a brand voice guide.
4. Have a customer response strategy
Social media is amazing for opening up channels of communication between you and your customers. But how you respond online shouldn’t be left to chance. Each engagement is an opportunity to re-enforce your brand’s identity.
This is an invaluable opportunity to gain instant feedback from customers and to encourage potential consumers to buy from you. By showing your willingness to engage with users in a timely and honest manner, you’ll strengthen your brand’s customer care.
Use your style guide and brand voice guide to write optimal responses to:
Ensure everyone managing your social media is familiar with the style and brand voice guides. Do some role-playing so the manner of responses is agreed to by the team, understood by everyone and rolls off the keyboard naturally and honestly.
5. Draw up a social media content calendar
You don’t want to dish out cookie-cutter responses and appear robotic, but you do need to be consistent in your content marketing. You’ll present a cohesive message and save yourself time by setting up – and sticking to – an on-brand content calendar.
The calendar can help you with promotions, seasonal events, specials, product launches and key communication points.
Although having a calendar will give you structure, do not follow it rigidly.
In times of a crisis (such as a pandemic), you’ll need to review, adjust and revise your calendar. While relying on your structure and strategy, you also need to be flexible if something relevant comes up in the media and you need to jump in on that conversation from a brand point of view.
When you know what you’re going to post and when, you’ll keep on track with a consistently branded social media strategy.
Having so many social platforms at your disposal can be a huge advantage for your marketing efforts. But it doesn’t come without pitfalls. Managing your brand’s identity across multiple channels can result in an inconsistent brand presence. By following these simple steps, you can create a cohesive campaign to maintain your brand identity that gets you noticed online.