I know some attorneys who are early adopters of nearly everything — technological, automotive, and even fashion. They were the first ones to jump into social media and have learned along the way what works for their practices and what definitely does not.
However, most of you are not like those early adopters. Many of you have barely dipped a toe into the social media waters that have flooded our society. Maybe you thought social media was a fad. Maybe you thought your clients weren’t involved in social media. Maybe you thought it wouldn’t work for your specialized type of practice.
And you would be wrong on all counts.
Pew Research Center started tracking social media adoption in 2005. At that time, only 5% of Americans were on at least one social media platform. Today, approximately 70% of Americans use social media. 68% use Facebook and 76% of those Facebook users visit the site every day.
Take a look at the demographics of Americans using the top 5 social media platform and then tell me your prospective clients aren’t there:
Hopefully this data convinces you that you need to either get involved in marketing your firm on social media or step up your game if you’ve already got a program underway.
Here’s how to pull together your plan based on best practices for attorneys marketing on social media:
- Understand the purpose of social media.
Social media is a different kind of marketing cat and you can’t treat it like traditional marketing channels. Its purpose is to enable you to form relationships, demonstrate thought leadership, get on the radar of prospects you might not have been able to reach in other ways and to eventually drive them to an action that will allow you to keep the communication going — i.e., visit your website or blog, download an ebook you’ve written, watch your videos, etc.
- Gauge your current online reputation.
You begin your social media program by listening first to what people are already saying about you. Set up a Google Alert for the name of your firm and each attorney. Do searches on Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for your firm name.
- Choose the platforms that serve your target market and complement your practice area.
In general, B2C attorneys will want to be on Facebook, while B2B attorneys will prefer LinkedIn. However, there may be opportunities for you on other platforms so dig deep into the demographic profiles of your client base and search for similarities among the social media networks. For example, if your practice targets women, you need to look into Pinterest. Using the Pew Research Center information above will help you sort through this.
- Set goals for your social media program.
The only way you’ll be able to judge whether social media provides a return on your marketing investment is to set and measure goals. Make them as specific as possible — i.e., obtain 100 downloads of your free ebook from Facebook followers every month.
- Create content sources.
Social media is a short-form play, where you use a few enticing sentences or comments and link to longer content for the user to explore. This is why it is imperative for you to have a blog, which is really the content hub for your social media marketing efforts. Each time you add a new post, you link to it from your social media pages. This is what feeds the beast! You also need to create a YouTube channel for your videos and link to those as well.
What Works Best Where
As I mentioned, Facebook is the place to be for B2C attorneys but there’s no sense mounting a Facebook campaign if you don’t know the kind of posts that will engage your prospects. On Facebook, it’s important that you realize people are not there to be “sold”. The vast majority are not there searching for legal services, so you need to find a way to engage them that taps into the emotional, the humorous, even the eyebrow-raising (but stay away from politics and religion!). This is a good time to add your spin to current events, share interesting stories or quotes and always, always include an image — video is even better. You can post about the charities or events you support and show your pride in a firm employee’s accomplishments. Keep it positive, light and let people know what it would be like to work with you.
Twitter is the best platform for adding your commentary to current news items and trends. You can check out what kind of news is trending on Twitter by checking the Trends column on your Twitter page. Again, use images whenever possible as these get shared more often.
LinkedIn is the venue for B2B attorneys and offers great opportunities for exposing your firm to prospects and referral sources. Be sure your profile is fully optimized and includes keywords for the search terms they would be using to find you. LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to post in-depth articles and share them with your connections as well as any LinkedIn groups you join. You can search for these groups by area of interest. You can also search for prospects by looking at the connections of your current clients and then ask those clients to provide a referral for you.
YouTube became just that much more important after it was acquired by Google. The videos you post there will help you with your SEO if you remember to load them with keywords when you post. But beyond that, YouTube is also important because video is the preferred way for people to connect with brands these days online. Set up a channel for your law firm and post videos that answer all the possible FAQs you can think of on subjects that are of interest to your target market. Promote your videos to prospects by linking to them on your other social media networks.