How to Create a Social Media Style Guide for Your Law Firm (with template!)
We’ve all seen it happen – the accidental tweet, the untimely Facebook post, the cringe-worthy Instagram picture. It can be tempting to watch the chaos unfold when these slip-ups happen, but what if it was you in the spotlight? While no one is immune to online fumbles, having a well-defined style guide can help you navigate the waters of social media when things get murky.
What is a style guide?
A presence on social media is no longer optional for a successful online strategy. Millions of people are logging into the social arena every day to learn more about you, read what others are saying and observe how you interact with people online. Your website can be a visual masterpiece, but that’s likely not the only source your potential clients are using to measure your reputation.
A social media style guide helps align online content with your brand message and works in concert with your overall marketing strategy. Whether you’re a large firm with a dedicated social media guru or a solo attorney wearing all the hats, adhering to a style guide keeps your messaging and appearance consistent on all platforms, no matter who’s in charge.
What to include
Let’s start with the basics. Compile a list of all your active social media accounts with a URL to each platform. Also add the contact information for everyone who has access to your firm’s social media accounts in case you need to get ahold of a page admin quickly.
Pro tip: It’s likely you’ll join another social media platform in the future, so include acceptable naming conventions that can be used by your firm here. For instance, the handle @JandJLaw may already be in use when you want to join Instagram, so have alternative firm names established in your guide (like using your city name at the end).
Ready to make
How you present yourself on social media sets the tone for how your firm operates. Read over your blog, website and any other online content to settle on a consistent voice that resonates throughout. For example, Coca-Cola is known for their friendly, uplifting tone while Wendy’s takes a more witty and humorous approach. Once you’ve established your voice, write a detailed description of what you’d like conveyed.
Pro tip: Find a brand or law firm with a well-defined voice you admire and screenshot some of your favorite posts. Including examples in your style guide will make it easier for someone new to your firm to easily understand what kind of tone you’re going for.
Image and Design
The visual aspects of your brand are also part of creating a cohesive message on social media. Be aware of the colors you’re using in the images and videos you’re posting. It may seem like a small detail, but the colors and filters you select go a long way in establishing a well-known brand. Include your firm’s color palette, with signature and supporting colors, along with approved fonts and photography guidelines.
Pro tip: Create a repository with your firm’s logos and approved photos. It’s an easy and effective way to share content with people who have access to post on your firm’s behalf.
Grammar and Terminology
Using proper grammar may seem like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how many companies drop the ball in this department. If you follow a certain style like AP or MLA, note it here. Also include specific terminology related to your firm that is frequently used. These details will go a long way in creating consistency throughout your platforms.
Pro tip: Get into the weeds in this section of your guide. Think about answering questions like: Should lists be capitalized and punctuated? When should numbers be spelled out in full? Do you use the Oxford comma? This will ensure your content is error free.
Questions and Reviews
One of the more important parts of your guide: your rules of engagement on social media. It’s tricky to know exactly how to respond to a negative comment from a past client or a question you’re not exactly sure how to answer. Include clear directions on how to craft an appropriate response to feedback so your firm is prepared for any situation.
Pro tip: While negative reviews should be addressed with careful consideration, create a few well-reasoned responses that can be customized for positive reviews and frequently asked questions. This will save you time as well as create a level of consistency when customers are reading your social media.
No matter if you’re just getting your feet wet on Facebook or if you have accounts on all the latest platforms, a style guide is the perfect place to detail how you’d like your firm to be perceived and why.