It’s undeniable that clients have turned to the web for legal related information, updates and even referrals.
Social media is more than just a way to stay up to date with high school friends or for teenagers to share selfies. The network effect and broad reach of social media provides many opportunities for law firm marketing.
If you are totally new to social media you can read this article for an introduction to the various social networks, how they work and the potential benefits for law firms.
The size and reach of the social media networks means they can’t be ignored as potential communication or business development tools for law firms. So how does it fit into the law firm marketing mix?
Social media is about engaging with an audience and creating conversations, communities and networks so there are many ways a lawyer can take advantage of social media channels in their law firm marketing.
Strangely, getting started with social media has nothing to do with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.
Social media doesn’t exist in isolation. It is just one of the elements a law firm should take into account as part of the overall law firm marketing strategy.
When planning a marketing strategy some firms will engage a consultant to do the research and help develop a full blown marketing plan. For others, typically smaller firms, it will involve a less formal approach….talking to clients and referrers trying to discover how to grow your business. In a social media context this means finding out which networks your target audience is involved with, weighing up the available options and allocating scarce resources.
It doesn’t really matter which approach you take, the outcome should essentially be the same, identifying what you want to achieve and deciding how you will achieve it. Eventually, it will boil down to how your law firm communicates with its clients and potential clients.
Which social networks
The simple answer is that it depends on your audience. Which social networks are your audience using and how can you engage with them?
Knowing which social media channels your clients are involved with is the key to maximising the impact of incorporating social media into your law firm marketing strategy.
Practical Tips to get you started
There are some fairly simple things you can do to get started with social media, they include:
Upgrade your website
You can guarantee that anyone who is interested in what you do or have to say will check you out via your website so keeping it up to date is essential.
Make sure your website has links to your social media pages and that you invite your audience to follow you.
Branded social media pages
You should create branded social media pages with the same look and feel as your law firm website and include the following:
- colour photos;
- profile pictures;
- a call to action – what do you want your visitors to do next, contact you by email or phone? Attend a seminar or sign up for your newsletter;
- contact details that are easy to find and convey the feeling that you are accessible
Social media should reinforce your brand and how you want to portray your firm.
This is where the commitment really begins. You have established your presence on your selected social media sites, now you should participate….by reading, commenting, engaging and/or sharing.
If you are creating content, and you should, target the content to what you want to achieve, which could include:
- raising awareness about your law firm or increasing your own profile;
- increasing traffic to your website;
- creating loyalty with your clients;
- retaining clients.
Regular communication with clients, whether by social media or otherwise, requires commitment and allocation of resources. Your content needs to be engaging, interesting, topical and helpful. It needs to be regularly updated. Content for social media doesn’t exist in isolation it should live somewhere on your website that is regularly updated, ideally your blog.
Remember you’re not writing a brief or providing legal advice, you’re engaging with people so no legalese.
Social media is a two way channel, invite feedback and ask people to share if they like the content.
Planning – Calendar
To help you stay regularly involved with social media you should map out, ideally at least a month in advance, when you intend to post and what you intend to say.
The plan should include:
- the number of posts per week/per month (it’s being social so the more the merrier);
- the time the post will be made (you need to test what is the most effective time to reach your target audience);
- what content you will post and when or how this content will be created (just like exercise, you should start slowly and see what level you can reach and maintain);
- when you will repost your content (your audience is busy too, a strategy to repost content more than once is a sensible way to try and maximise exposure & engagement)
Measure your progress
As with all law firm marketing strategies or tactics it is essential to track and measure the effectiveness of what you are doing and to monitor the cost.
Social media is evolving and it is important to continually measure your success, to see what is working and what isn’t. Be prepared to adopt and change the way you engage with your audience and the content you create.
Examples of the use of social media
There are multiple ways a law firm could choose to use social media as part of their law firm marketing, these are a few examples:
As a Distribution Channel
Create some interesting/topical legal content or updates about you, your law firm or its services and share it on social media to increase your potential audience.
For Awareness Creation
If you are introducing a new service or have updated your qualifications or expertise, let people know via social media, increasing the awareness about your law firm and its services.
As a Feedback Channel
Use the social media site where your clients are, engage with them and participate in the community then ask for feedback about legal services generally, your law firm and its services.
A Channel for Attracting New Clients
Link to content on your website that is interesting and helpful to your clients and their friends, providing useful information on everyday legal issues that affect people. Ask your clients to share the content with any of their friends and family that might benefit from the information.
Join groups or communities that your clients or referrers are involved in and contribute to the conversation with helpful information that could benefit the community. This builds stronger relationships with existing clients and creates the potential for developing relationships with the wider community.
In conclusion there are a few essential things that you must do to maximise your chances of success using social media as part of your law firm marketing mix, these are:
- Have a great looking website that passes the mobile test. Don’t waste money on social media marketing if your #1 online marketing tool is not in good shape;
- Set up social media profiles that are consistent with your website;
- Develop a content creation plan;
- Be social
If you have any tips from your own experience with social media I’d love to hear from you.