Over the years, large consumer brands like Wendys, AirBnB, and Nike have made exceptional use of social media as a marketing platform. These days, almost every business, large or small, tries to maintain an at least somewhat active social media presence.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with many law firms, which is surprising given how skilled most lawyers are at communicating. That being said, more and more law firms are starting to realize the potential of social media as a means of increasing brand awareness and attracting clients.
If this is you or your firm, you have a unique advantage. You can get a headstart on your competition when it comes to using social media for lawyers. While they’re still trying to figure things out, you can be well-established.
In this guide, we’ll look at why you should use social media, plus some of the essential guidelines every lawyer and law firm should follow when it comes to using social media.
Why your law firm should be on social media
Of all the possible reasons why law firms have been hesitant to invest in a social media presence, a lack of understanding of the benefits is at the top.
As a result, it makes sense to take a moment and outline some of the most immediate and visible benefits lawyers and law firms will receive when they decide to take their social media presence seriously.
1: Increased brand awareness
It’s estimated that the average user spends roughly 2.5 hours a day on social media, a figure that is rising every year. On top of this, more consumers than ever are looking up reviews and recommendations before deciding upon a product or service, and much of this review finding process is done via social media.
Social media allows you to interact with potential clients in unique ways. You can answer questions, respond to comments, and even allow customers to post reviews.
If your law firm chooses to be absent from social media, you’re essentially choosing to be invisible to a large number of potential clients, a decision that is tough to justify.
2: Engage with your target audience
Before the internet and the rise of social media, businesses often struggled with ways to connect with their target audience. These days, the opposite is true, and the business-client relationship has never been so direct.
Of all the ways law firms can use social media to engage with clients, providing informative and authoritative content is one of the best. Not only will this increase traffic and visibility, but it can also result in users sharing content they find engaging and worthwhile, leading to even greater levels of exposure.
Furthermore, consumers are more likely to trust businesses with an active social media page to which new content is consistently being added.
3: Attract new clients
As stated above, more people than ever before are turning to social media when searching for a product or service. Not only is it one of the quickest and most efficient methods people have for finding local businesses, it also allows them to see reviews or comments left by past or current clients, which then informs whether they’ll reach out to a business.
To drive this point home, a 2018 study done by the American Bar Association found that 35% of lawyers who use social media say have been able to gain new clients as a result. The study also states that lawyers and law firms have had the greatest level of success with LinkedIn and Facebook.
4: Establish yourself as an expert in the industry
Aside from increasing awareness and visibility, social media lets lawyers and law firms establish themselves as experts in the industry. When you expertly answer common questions or misconceptions people have about common legal issues, it shows that you know what you’re talking about and can be trusted.
Such a strategy can be particularly beneficial for law firms that focus on one particular aspect of the law. You can speak directly to issues and questions that are highly relevant to your target audience and position yourself as an authority.
Building your powerful social media strategy
Now that you know the why, let’s talk about how to get started with social media for lawyers.
Simply being on social media is not sufficient, and to reap the rewards, you need a solid social media strategy. Although there is often some nuance to how this is done, depending on the type of clients you or your firm are looking to attract, there are some general steps and guidelines that all successful social media strategies must follow.
Step 1: Know the legal guidelines regarding what you can post
As any lawyer will know, there are numerous rules and ethical concerns regarding what you can and cannot say. In most cases, these rules extend to social media as well and should be followed when posting content, responding to inquiries, or engaging in discussion.
For example, many states forbid lawyers from explicitly labeling themselves as ‘experts’ or ‘specialists’ in a particular field or area of law. Failure to follow these rules can prove costly, as many times in the past attorneys or law firms have invested money into the creation of content they were later required to take down.
All this to say, familiarize yourself with all relevant legal guidelines before you start posting.
Step 2: Identify your social media goals
Next, you need to identify what exactly you want to accomplish with social media. Not only does this allow you to measure your progress and adjust accordingly, it also significantly aids in the planning process. Your goals will shape the type of content you create, how you interact with your audience, etc.
For example, some law firms may feel that building greater brand awareness is more critical than immediately attracting new clients. For others, it might be the opposite, and an increase in clientele is the main priority.
Start by deciding what you want to achieve with social media so that you don’t waste time, energy, and money doing things that won’t ultimately help you achieve your goal.
On top of all this, your goals must be defined in such a way that makes them easily quantifiable. Simply saying ‘gain more clients’ is not very meaningful if you don’t define how many clients you want to gain and by when.
Setting measurable goals helps you and your firm know whether their social media strategy is working. If you’ve invested time and money into creating your social media presence, and you’ve only managed to gain 20% of the clients you were hoping for, then it’s a clear signal that the strategy needs some reworking.
Step 3: Choose your primary platform
Not all social media platforms are the same, with different audiences preferring different platforms. Rather than trying to be on every platform equally, focus on one or two. Ideally, these should be the main platforms that your target audience regularly uses.
Here are four to consider.
Facebook: With over 2.38 billion active monthly users, Facebook is by far the largest social media platform in use today. If you’re not sure which platform to use, Facebook is usually a safe bet. There’s a pretty good chance that a large segment of your target audience hangs out on Facebook.
LinkedIn: According to the 2018 ABA study referenced earlier, LinkedIn is the most popular social media website used by lawyers and law firms. However, it’s important to understand that LinkedIn is predominantly used for forming B2B relationships. If you’re looking to connect primarily with individuals, LinkedIn might not be your best bet.
Instagram: If your content strategy is heavy on photos and short videos, then Instagram should be strongly considered. Although considerably newer than both Facebook and LinkedIn, it has still managed to garner over 1 billion active monthly users, making it the second most used social media platform. Additionally, Instagram tends to be more popular with younger demographics than Facebook. If your audience skews younger, you should definitely consider Instagram.
Twitter: Twitter is a unique platform that can be tricky to master. Nevertheless, if your target audience favors Twitter, it’s worth taking time to figure out the nuances. If you need proof, look no further than companies like Wendy’s, who have gotten massive exposure through the unique way they use Twitter to connect with their audience.
Step 4: Create truly valuable content that will resonate with your target audience
Ultimately, social media is all about producing content that’s valuable to your audience. If the quality of your content is poor, it doesn’t matter how much you produce, you won’t get results.
Before starting the creation process, it’s worth taking the time to research and understand what kind of questions and issues your target audience is most interested in. Once this has been done, you can create a variety of content around those issues and questions. In addition to individual social media posts, you can also create blog posts, YouTube videos, etc.
Additionally, you can use your social media accounts to share relevant news articles and stories your followers will find interesting or helpful.
Remember, success with social media comes from producing content that users find engaging and worthy of their time. Sometimes, achieving this doesn’t happen right away, and a feeling-out process is required. If this is the case, don’t worry, as it is perfectly normal.
Step 5: Engage with your audience
Social media is a two way street. If you simply post content but never respond when people post comments or questions, it will look like you don’t care. On the other hand, when you and your firm regularly engage with your audience, it shows that you’re active and interested in attracting new customers.
What’s more, it can also create a level of personability that law firms often lack. When you respond to comments and questions, it shows that you’re a real person who really cares. This type of authenticity is attractive to people and makes it more likely that they’ll reach out to you.
Step 6: Measure results in relation to goals
As noted earlier, it’s important to define goals in such a way that allows them to be tracked, measured, and quantified. When evaluating the results of your social media efforts, look most closely at whether social media helped you achieve your goals.
Yes, looking at the number of likes, shares, and comments can help you know what pieces of content really resonated with your audience. But likes don’t pay the bills. The benchmark of success is not how many likes something got, but whether it moved you closer to your primary goals.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how well a social media strategy is performing if it’s not helping you meet your goals.
Step 7: Adjust accordingly
Every successful social media for lawyers strategy must be dynamic and agile, ready to change course whenever necessary. To put it simply, if your current strategy isn’t working, don’t hesitate to take a moment to analyze the data, find out why, and adjust accordingly.
There are no set rules when it comes to social media success. Sometimes, you have to experiment to figure how to most effectively engage with your target audience. So don’t be afraid to pivot if you’re not seeing the results you’d hoped for.
If you or your law firm is not using social media, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Whether you want to build your brand, acquire more clients, or expand into new demographics, social media can help you do that.
Yes, it takes time and effort to create and execute a social media strategy, but it’s worth it. But don’t wait. Your competitors certainly aren’t.
If you need help with your digital marketing, feel free to reach out for a complimentary consultation today.