Before the invention of sat-navs and compasses, sailors used the night sky to navigate the seas. The trusty North Star acted as a fixed point around which the whole sky swivelled. With one strong point of reference, sea-faring adventurers could sail on smoothly with a sense of direction.
Well, a comprehensive set of content guidelines is like a North Star shining above your content team. It keeps everyone moving in the right direction with a sense of cohesion and purpose.
What are content guidelines anyway?
Like brand guidelines do for your brand, content guidelines set out how you want your content to look, feel, and sound. They bring unity to your output, which is crucial when building your brand's reputation across different digital platforms.
Your content marketing team may include many writers; some in-house, others external. Your content guidelines document will act as a single source of truth to which your writers can refer.
What are the benefits of B2B content guidelines?
A set of content guidelines will help make your content consistent and of a high-quality. Let's dive into why in more detail.
A consistent tone builds trust
A tone of voice that modulates from fun and chatty to systematic and scientific is, at best, confusing and at worst harmful to your credibility. Audiences expect your tone to remain steady across your content. It builds trust between you and your audience and creates a more definite sense of your brand's personality in their minds. If they trust you, they're far more likely to buy from you.
Consistent quality improves the customer journey
Have you ever ordered from your favourite takeaway only to find your go-to dish tasting lacklustre? If you have, you'll know how variable quality can tarnish a brand. The same is true for your content.
As you post quality content over time, you'll build a reputation for being a trustworthy source of information. If, however, you post a blog that isn't up to your usual standard, that reputation can deteriorate faster than you can say 'top of the funnel'.
Put simply, if your content isn't regularly of a high calibre, it could kick potential customers out of your marketing funnel altogether.
What should I include in my business's content guidelines?
The more detail you include in your content guidelines, the better. Here are the absolute essentials you need to cover.
If your brand was a person, what would you want people to think of them?
It's worth work-shopping these questions with your content team to collect a range of views and opinions. Once you've done so, collate the top results in your content guidelines document for your team to touch on.
The arbiters of quality
It goes without saying that all your content should be reviewed carefully for typos, bad grammar, and tone of voice adherence. But who's responsible for this task?
Whoever you choose to act as quality assurance for your content, be sure to include their contact details in your content guidelines. This will ensure that internal and external writers alike won't have to waste time figuring out who to send their work to for review.
Your content calendar
Knowing when to share your content is almost as important as the content itself. HubSpot found that ideal timings differ across social media platforms. Here's a summary of their recommendations for B2B content sharing:
Instagram – Fridays, between 12 pm and 1 pm, and between 5 pm and 6 pm
LinkedIn – Wednesdays, between 10 am and 12 pm
Twitter – Weekdays, between 8 am and 10 am (capture that commute!)
Facebook – Weekdays, at 9 am or between 3 pm and 5 pm
You might also want to consider implementing automation rules, like automatically sending out a blog digest to subscribers at the start/end of every week. These rules may determine when you send you posts live.
Once you've calculated when and how often you're going to post and share your content, cement your decision in your content guidelines.
So, do I need content guidelines?
Absolutely! A robust set of content guidelines will ensure your team's output is consistent, honed to your audience, and published when it'll have the most impact. It'll also save you time and make onboarding new writers easier than ever.
Give your writer's their North Star by drafting up your content guidelines today.