How To Write a Social Media Playbook

A social media playbook is a crucial tool for any organization that plans to be active on social media. Part strategy and part implementation document, it explains when, where, how, and why social media should come to life for a brand.

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Step 1. Set Expectations

The best place to start is with your clients. What are their expectations and timeline? Who is the audience? What are the unique needs of their different markets or business units that may impact the playbook?

Step 1.2. Analytics Brief

This may be a good time to brief in your analytics team for a simultaneous pre-playbook audit, including consumer profile or competitive analyses refreshes. This research will impact the final product, regardless of whether or not it makes the final playbook.

Step 2. Set Comms Tasks and Outline

Based on those conversations, draft a working table of contents and outline, and identify the appropriate comms tasks and the role of social to guide your strategy and document. Get client approval. This will help you get an understanding of the content they really hope to see and what is unnecessary, or if certain pieces really do need to be prioritized.

Step 3. Briefing in Teams

Brief in your key partners across disciplines within your agency and at partner agencies: creative, analytics, brand planning, your partner media agency, and any other relevant teams. Assign work and set timelines, including lots of check-ins.

Step 4. Start Writing

Try to get client feedback frequently, and aim to do weekly check-ins so that all parties, client and media agency included, are aligned on the work as it’s developed.


  • Make it clear why social matters for the brand
  • Explain the role of each key social media platform within the ecosystem
  • Explain how the content pillars — a core piece of the playbook — bring the strategy to life
  • Be explicit about the look & feel of all social media content, and make sure it aligns to your brand’s visual identity and guidelines
  • Get your hands dirty. Pin up all the work on a board and map out the full journey to find redundancies and editing opps, have lots of working sessions, etc


  • Make it a full-fledged strategy document — this needs to be actionable!
  • Make it specific to one market. Smaller or global markets will use the playbook, so it needs to be relevant to everybody
  • Forget to make it nice — get a designer on it
  • Be afraid to use existing playbooks as templates and inspiration

Step 5. Edit and Simplify

Keep the playbook simple and straightforward, especially for smaller global markets. The more actionable, the better. Move contents to the appendix. Treat it like a manual. Try to get as many examples and visuals from existing social content so that’s it’s easy to understand.

Step 6. Circulate and Update

When your document is done, work with your client to get feedback from other partners across markets and business units so that the playbook can be updated.

Final Thoughts

Don’t forget, a social media playbook is a living document, so plan to update it based on your business needs, platform changes, or new brand priorities or realities about once a quarter. Good luck!

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