How to Build a Social Media Playbook (For Agencies)

Updated on September 11, 2023

6 min to read

Content Writer

Published June 2, 2022

How to Build a Social Media Playbook (For Agencies)
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A social media playbook helps agencies stay consistent with their content development, engagement protocols, and marketing strategies.

It ensures every piece of social media content you publish is created for the right people, on the right platform, in the right way, and towards the right goals. 

So, why don’t you have one?

We get it—most digital marketing agencies are up to the eyeballs with work.

You’re most likely flooded with building your social media strategies for your clients, researching target audiences, or looking for Instagram tools among other software, to streamline your processes.

But remember, without a social media playbook, you’re inadvertently hampering your team’s efficiency. You’ll compromise the consistency and execution of your social marketing tactics. 

Continue reading to learn more about social media playbooks, why they’re important, and how to build one like a champ. 

Table of contents

What you’ll learn:

  • What is a social media playbook?
  • How agencies can build a social media playbook
  • 5 crucial tips for creating a social media playbook
  • FAQs for creating a social media playbook
  • Create a social media playbook now

What is a social media playbook?

For agencies, a social media playbook is essentially a field guide that the team can follow to ensure the consistent implementation of marketing strategies. It includes guidelines on everything that goes into social media marketing, such as content strategy, community management standards, brand voice, audience personas, and analytics. 

It’s important for agencies to create a different social media playbook for each client. 

The good news is, social media playbooks are not that hard to create. 

Just launch a graphic design software like Canva or a slideshow app like PowerPoint and plug in the information you get by following the steps below: 

How agencies can build a social media playbook

Screenshot of Social Media Playbook sample

Here are 6 simple steps to help your agency create a social media playbook for clients: 

1. Define their marketing goals

The first thing your social media playbook needs is a set of clearly-defined goals for your client. 

Do they want to build buyer confidence and increase conversions? Do they want to build brand awareness and generate a recurring stream of traffic from social media?

Use existing data from your clients for projections that will make their social media marketing goals more realistic. The more specific you can get, the better. 

Screenshot of Social Media Playbook key objectives

Defining these goals will help you maintain a steady trajectory as you identify the target audience, develop your content strategy, choose your social media platforms, and determine which metrics to track.

2. Create audience personas

After defining your client’s business goals, the next order of business is to define the client’s primary audience. 

What are the problems they’re trying to solve? How old are they, what do they do for a living, and what are their pain points?

Answer these questions and put them all together to build audience personas. These are fictional profiles that reflect your client’s ideal social media audience. 

Screenshot of Social Media Playbook Audience Persona

3. Plan your content strategy

When planning a social media content strategy, agencies need to worry about two things: content creation and content promotion. 

In content creation, you primarily need to plan the content topics and content types you’ll use. Start with content pillars that you’ll use to model your client’s social media content strategy.

Screenshot of Social Media Playbook Content Strategy

You also need to think about your client’s brand voice guidelines, which are useful in creating captions for posts. 

Be sure to cover the following when formulating your content creation strategy:

  • The appropriate language for each platform and audience group
  • Client’s brand identity (conversational, formal, humorous, etc.)
  • Client’s brand values 
  • Unique aspects about the client and how to incorporate it into your messaging

Content promotion, on the other hand, is about which social media platforms you’ll use and when to publish them. For this, refer to your audience personas to determine the best ways and times to reach them. 

4. Establish promotion guidelines per platform

With your audience personas and content strategy ready, it’s time for the finer details of your social media playbook. 

You need to document promotion guidelines for the social media platforms your client will use. 

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For the sake of this guide, let’s say you’re an Instagram marketing agency. Your playbook should outline things like how to share a video on Instagram, what hashtags to insert, how to edit images, what fonts should headlines use, and so on.

Make sure team members get the message by creating a publishing checklist.

Screenshot of Social Media Playbook Linkedin Publishing Checklist

It’s also important to create content calendars that visualize the publishing schedule of your clients. 

Vista Social is a powerful tool that lets you plan an effective content calendar that also features automated publishing. Simply create an entity for each client, link their social profiles, and build your publishing queue from the “Publishing Settings” page.

Screenshot of Vista Social's publishing queues

5. Set community management standards 

Creating guidelines on how to respond to comments and other communications will keep your client’s brand messaging consistent—regardless of who’s managing social media communications. 

A great strategy is to include templates for responses to frequently asked questions and complaints. 

Agencies can take this a step further by creating guidelines for outward communication. For example, your playbook could have a section for the best questions to ask on Instagram, influencer outreach messages, and ad copies. 

Don’t forget to create community management standards that align with your client’s brand identity. At the very least, identify social engagement opportunities that your team should seize. 

Screenshot of Social Media Playbook Social Engagement Opporunities

If their brand tone is humorous, build a list of funny things to comment on Instagram. If their tone is formal, a list of words that the audience may deem offensive is a must. 

6. Determine KPIs

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are a special set of metrics that can measure the effectiveness of strategies in accomplishing goals. 

Without KPIs, there’s no way to tell if your strategies are working. And as a result, it’s impossible to hit your client’s marketing goals unless you hit a home run in the first strategy you execute.

KPIs, of course, need to relate to your client’s marketing strategy and goals. 

Here are some examples of KPIs normally tracked in a social media strategy:

  • Follower count
  • Follower growth rate 
  • Post reach 
  • User engagement rate
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Conversion rate 

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5 crucial tips for creating a social media playbook

Knowing how to create a social media playbook is one thing. Understanding what it takes to create the best social media playbook possible for your clients is something totally different. 

To help you with the latter, here are five crucial tips you should remember: 

  1. Learn about relevant hashtags: Hashtags make social media content more searchable on social platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
  2. Have a game plan for negative comments: 79.9% of customers will trust a brand more if they respond constructively to negative feedback.
  3. Identify trends and cash in: Look for popular content, be it the most viewed Instagram video or the most liked post in a Facebook group, to bolster your playbook with updated strategies.
  4. Go visual: When creating your playbook, use visuals to improve information retention and make it more engaging to your team.
  5. Document everything: Go beyond the steps highlighted above and make your playbook as in-depth as possible by documenting other details, like budget allocation, social monitoring tutorials, and reporting protocols. 

FAQs for creating a social media playbook

What is a social media playbook?

A social media playbook is a complete guide that discusses every single facet of your social media strategy. Agencies can create playbooks to help their team follow the client’s standards in terms of content quality, engagement protocols, and brand messaging across their social profiles. 

How do you make a social playbook?

Creating a social media playbook involves a series of steps: 

  • Define marketing goals
  • Create audience personas
  • Build a content strategy
  • Establish promotion guidelines
  • Set community management standards
  • Measure KPIs

What should be included in a social media playbook?

An effective social media playbook covers the following components:

  • Content strategy
  • Target audience
  • Analytics strategy
  • Community management standards
  • Brand guidelines
  • Detailed process

Create a social media playbook now

Creating social media playbooks for client projects is a surefire way to set your agency apart. 

However, a playbook is just a playbook if you don’t have the tools for execution. 

Consider using Vista Social. It is an all-in-one social media management platform that helps you prepare your content calendar, manage your content assets, track KPIs, and more. 

Get started today by creating a free account

About the Author

Content Writer

Jimmy Rodela is a social media and content marketing consultant with over 9 years of experience, with work appearing on sites such as, Yahoo, SEMRush, and SearchEnginePeople. He specializes in social media, content marketing, SaaS, small business strategy, marketing automation, and content development.

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