December 19, 2016 | By Rebecca Wilkie
Take a second and envision your morning routine, and most importantly, getting dressed. Your mind is literally making hundreds of decisions before you head out the door to face the day. Options include selections of pants, dress, shorts, skirt, long-sleeve, short-sleeve or no-sleeve shirt; followed by sweater, suit jacket, cardigan, blazer, wool coat, pea coat or trench coat; then brown shoes, black shoes, heels, flats, boots, hat or no hat. All that and you haven’t even thought about your accessories! Ultimately, what you wear reflects what personal message is exposed to others. Brands are no different.
A brand is the face of the company. Extreme lengths are taken to ensure that the logo stays consistent, brand colors aren’t compromised, the tagline is correct and the brand mark is placed with perfection. Brand standard or style guide documents are created and referred to like gospel. This guide is circulated internally and externally, including placement on websites for outside vendors, press, advertising agencies and anyone using the logo without direct control. Honestly ask yourself this question: Are you going to such intense lengths with your social media?
Back to the closet: Would you trust someone else or a team of people to dress you? What if they have never met you? What if they were located in another state and didn’t check the destination before they packed your suitcase? What if they don’t know the purpose of your trip? You could potentially arrive and end up wearing a suit to a luau, and everyone will notice. You will appear socially awkward. Many times this is how companies are treating their social media. Don’t get me wrong – it is acceptable to have someone else dress you (or handle your social media), as long as they have guidelines, sizes, color preferences and your personality in mind.
A social media standards guide is a must-have for every company that engages on social media, which is 93 percent of businesses currently. It lays out the do’s and don’ts on your subscribed channels. This document, infographic or toolkit is used as a consistency roadmap for your social media, including goals, objectives, frequency of posts, tone, personality, use of hashtags, how to respond to reviews, and rules for anything you want to control. If the organization produces quality graphics at the company level, then include graphics and brand themes in the toolkit so smaller groups can use it as well, including the marketing team, social media team, all the way down to individual units.
The guide should be familiar to everyone in your organization, even those who don’t post directly, including employees, general managers, chefs, bartenders and franchisees. Besides building brand awareness, consistency and protecting your overall brand, the benefit of having your employees aware of your social media standards is the front-line employees are your eyes and ears to connect your customers to your brand. If they are mindful of your strategic intentions on social media, many times they can help with creative ideas and suggestions, even real-time or behind-the-scene images to contribute to your social media channels. It also allows for bigger ideas in the strategy that might have seemed like the unthinkable. Envision a guest takeover with the freedom to post as they wish, but with parameters to ensure your brand stays consistent.
When deciding what to wear, the person or group you are meeting with that day is taken into account. Do you have an event to attend? What physical barriers will be faced? How is the weather? What are your transportation options? Will your outfit be suitable for the occasion? If one point comes across loud and clear, this is the equivalent to social media. Not all outfits are appropriate to fit all occasions! Make sure each channel is tailored to a specific audience with identified standards for all social media accounts.
Social media should be valued as much as a brand logo, tagline and colors. The potential to reach more customers is exponentially higher; and if done right, then you will launch your brand into high gear. Done wrong or without a guideline, you risk being socially awkward and you don’t want that to go viral! Take the time to develop a comprehensive social media brand standards guide and watch your brand reach higher goals. Contact IMI today to get started!
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