A social media style guide is only necessary in a narrow technical sense, as much of what the other style guides include applies to external / public communication, of which social media is a mere element. However, it is always useful to have particular protocols and concrete guidelines so there is no confusion.
Social Media What, Where, How
First, the value of social media is the conversation thread. Anything that can encourage these to generate and for customers, stakeholders, and the public to participate is usually good. Of course all other style guidelines should prevail.
The what of social media is more of a which, and that is usually best determined by goals. The most relevant goals, from an SEO perspective, should be relevance and access. This means those social media for whom others can easily discover and engage, and of course, that show up in search engine results pages.
This usually varies across organizations, but there is a range of 1-6 networks and/or platforms that make sense. As well resources are needed. The media can be categorized by various functions, such as: chat, image/video sharing, audio/video calls/conferencing, blogging, status/link updates/general social, etc. Obviously there is overlap and many platforms trying to add the functionality of their rivals in other categories. The most common platforms (and therefore the most relevant in terms of raw numbers, though market demographics may indicate better foci), include:
- Facebook Messenger
- Google Plus
Relevance, Relevance, Relevance
Relevance for the potential customer means acting appropriate for a brand, which means occasional, relevant messaging and also availability for interaction. The content needs to be brief and in context. Talking for the sake of talking won't work out well. Not being authentic in communication threads also turns off people and may develop brand backlash. Here are some findings/guidelines:
- For Image/Video sharing there needs to be very good creativity, very brief messages, in context and relevant. This may be the most difficult social media category to perform well in, but it can pay off in widespread messages.
- For Chat/Calls, brands are accepted if they keep their messaging one of pull, not push. Being available for Skype or Line messaging can be convenient for potential or actual customers, as long as the focus is on transactions rather than social.
- For Blog/Status this is usually acceptable since people seek out affiliation. Careful with advertising on these platforms as they will not be cost-effective unless focused. But keeping a well-stocked facebook page or Twitter account can be effective at displaying professional behavior.
Answer the Phone
If accounts are created, and more importantly, listed as ways to communicate, ensure that the chat message or phone call is answered in a reasonable amount of time. One can accept only text and does not have to support voice or video calls for these platforms, and therefore effectively use chat as another asynchronous textual communications channel (second to email).
Check your Email
Turn on email alerts for specific kinds of communication, such as messages addressed to the organization's social media account(s). Don't rely on apps providing alerts, but have some secondary messaging system in place, which could be email, chat (.e.g, a Telegram Bot), or something else.
Text, Text, Text
The text is the key part here, even with voice being popular. For example, maybe it isn't a habit to have Skype on all the time (and it certainly drains batteries), but configuring skype to forward inbound text messages as SMS to a phone, and be able to reply via SMS, is a great way of being available through a channel potential customers may want to use.
SEO Longform and Links
Of special interest is the kind of link-building and link-following from content (either URL or complete) that is posted to social media.
- Links to Articles (posted on organization website)
- Facebook status update (and sponsored post), Twitter status update, Google Plus post
- Article reposts (copied/pasted with some edit on 3rd party websites)
- LinkedIn, Medium, WordPress.com
Duplicate content -- to Google at least -- is not the same content on different websites but the same content on different pages of the same site. Therefore the key is to ensure Google is aware which copy of a given piece of content is the canonical one. They simple way is that all non-canonical copies link back to the original, with text such as: