Recent studies suggest that social media usage continues to rise among most age groups in the U.S., making social media one of the most effective ways to advertise, increase brand awareness, and communicate with your target audience — but only if you do it right. There is a veritable buffet of social media platforms available, and trying to post quality content on all of them takes more resources than most firms have.
Additionally, quantity is not necessarily better than quality. Posting lots of content on every platform is likely yield worse returns than posting higher quality content on a few strategically chosen social sites.
So how do you decide which platforms to use? It comes down to two considerations: who is your target audience, and what resources do you have at your disposal? We’ll address both of these questions in this article, in addition to analyzing the best social media platforms for law firms.
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Target Audiences and Where to Find Them
So how do you determine who your target audience is and where you can find them online? You should begin by developing client personas, sometimes known as business avatars. This avatar is a fictional person you create to embody all the characteristics of your ideal customer.
Operating a law firm means you likely specialize in various types of cases. And your clients’ demographics depend on whether you handle mostly motor vehicle accidents, family law, medical malpractice, or other practices. You might even need multiple business avatars to represent different client bases.
We won’t go too in-depth into creating business avatars in this article, but we will go over a few ways to determine your target audience.
Analyze Your Current Customer Base
One of the best ways to determine who makes up your target audience is by looking at the characteristics shared by your current clients. But the most important step is deciding where they spend time on social media. You can do this by conducting market research in which you create and send out surveys asking current and past clients about their online hobbies and social media usage. This gives you an accurate representation of where your current clients spend time online and can help you determine which platforms to target.
Use Social Media Demographics Trends
Another option is using current social media usage demographics reports and crosschecking those with the characteristics of your target or current clients. For instance, this recent report by the Pew Research Center breaks down social media usage trends for the top social platforms by a variety of factors — including age, gender, race, and education. If you’ve created a business avatar that accurately portrays your target audience, you can develop a rough idea of where to concentrate your social media efforts by looking at the general usage trends.
Is Your Google Analytics Linked to Your Current Social Accounts?
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that provides details about your website’s visitors and even basic demographics like age and gender. Additionally, if you have your Google Analytics connected to your current social media accounts, you can see how many visitors came to your site from various platforms. While there is no guarantee that the visitors are part of your target audience or that they are likely to convert into promising leads, these reports do provide a broad overview of where your social platform performance currently is.
The Top Three Social Platforms for Law Firms
For many law firms, the top three social platforms are going to be Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. We’ll explain why next, in addition to discussing when using Twitter and Instagram can also benefit your law firm.
1. Facebook for Law Firms
If you looked at which social media platform is driving the most traffic to your website, you probably saw Facebook in the lead. With almost 70% of American adults on the platform, Facebook is matched only by YouTube, with no other platform even coming close to its popularity.
As one of the older social media platforms, Facebook users tend to be primarily from Generation X and Generation Y (millennials). Spanning ages 23 to around 60 in 2019, these two generations often make up most, if not all, of a law firm’s clientele. Facebook excels at allowing businesses to be less formal and more personable than other forms of advertising and client relations. As a mostly recreational platform, informality is what users expect and want to find when scrolling through Facebook.
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2. LinkedIn for Law Firms
LinkedIn is crucial for businesses. Having a LinkedIn profile for your company is like having an online resume that advertises your company and brand. But LinkedIn can do so much more than showcase your business. With consistent posting and engagement, LinkedIn can help you develop networks and contacts within the legal world and your community. More professional and less recreational than Facebook, LinkedIn is also directed at a narrower audience base, with most users being white 30 to 49-year-olds with college or postgraduate degrees.
3. YouTube for Law Firms
If your firm is creating video content with any consistency, you need to be on YouTube. Even if you only publish once a month or every other month, YouTube can be a significant asset to your firm. Video is often considered the key to social media marketing, earning 1200% more shares than posts with images and text combined. Additionally, the recent Pew Research study showed that YouTube has surpassed Facebook in the number of adult users, at 73% of all adults using YouTube. Making it the most popular social media platform.
A YouTube channel for your firm serves as a useful video library that can be linked to from other social platforms, your website, and other digital properties and content assets. Taking your YouTube game up a notch from video library to a conversion-driving platform is a matter of video quality, publishing consistency, and video content.
Honorable Mention: Twitter for Law Firms
Although similar in terms of content to Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter is actually experiencing a decline in popularity. However, the platform is still one of the most popular places online to get news on current events, politics, and celebrities, and the shorter posts and fast-paced content does lead many users to prefer Twitter over Facebook. As such, while Twitter is not in our top three social platforms, law firms can see success from using Twitter in addition to Facebook if they have the resources to do so.
For many of our legal clients, we develop posts with Facebook and LinkedIn in mind and post that same content on Twitter as well through Hootsuite, a social media management program that allows us to quickly and easily manage all of our clients’ social media accounts. This way, we can cover that smaller percentage of users who use Twitter without devoting as much time and resources as the other platforms that show greater return.
Honorable Mention: Instagram for Law Firms
Most people think of Instagram as a place to show off photography skills, beautiful products, or breathtaking vacation views. But Instagram can also be a useful tool for businesses with less aesthetic products and services, including law firms. If your firm has an extensive local presence and community engagement, you can focus your Instagram strategy on community outreach, office news, local events you attend, or speeches and presentations your attorneys give.
However, the key to success on Instagram is not just photography skills but frequent posts. If you don’t have the time or resources to take quality pictures consistently, Instagram might not be the platform for your firm.
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Resources: Determining Your Capacity for Social Media
Do you have the resources to develop quality content for a variety of platforms on a consistent and frequent schedule? Producing quality social media content can take a lot of time. And while some content such as office or community news is easiest to post in-house, law firms and other companies can save themselves a lot of time and effort by outsourcing the majority of their social media management.
What Does Successful Social Media Management Require?
Just posting content and getting likes and shares isn’t enough to be successful on social media. That might be adequate for a personal account, but businesses looking to use social media to increase brand awareness and develop better client and community relations need to take a more active approach. Social media that produces successful returns requires daily management.
How Many Hours a Week Can Firms Expect Social Media Management Take?
For social media specialists, an industry standard for daily maintenance of a single social media platform is around 15 minutes. That’s 15 minutes each day just managing a single platform — not including creating actual content to post, which can take another 15 minutes per post. How can managing a single platform take 30 minutes each day? Here’s a breakdown.
Each weekday, businesses need to be active and:
- Respond to mentions
- Interact with clients
- Re-share, like, or comment on an industry article
- Reply to direct messages
And that’s just daily weekday maintenance for one platform. If you’re on three different social media platforms, you’re looking at 90 minutes every day. Additionally, firms should be posting an absolute minimum of one post a week on each platform, though two or three times is recommended. Three platforms, two posts a week, five days a week; you’re looking at roughly 10 hours each week, and that’s if you know what you’re doing and have experience navigating social media platforms and developing quality content.
In-House or Outsourced?
Do you have an hour a day to spend dealing with social media? Leaving social media management to the experts means you have more time to focus on meeting with clients and developing your cases. But what about hiring an in-house employee to handle your social?
While hiring in-house may work for some companies with an extensive social media strategy and budget, what typically happens is that a traditional marketing specialist is put in charge of social media in addition to other responsibilities. After all, most companies are not going to need a full-time employee just to handle social media, which means that employee likely will specialize in a different area of marketing. They’ll be busy handling other tasks, have less time for social media, and likely not have any training or experience in social media management.
RELATED ARTICLE: The Hidden Costs of Hiring In-House Marketing Staff
On the other hand, outsourcing social media and other digital marketing services is typically cheaper than hiring someone in-house. In addition to saving money, you’ll have a dedicated social media specialist handling your social accounts, and if you employ the agency for other digital marketing services, your overall digital strategy will be consolidated and comprehensive.
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Ahmad, Ifran. (2019, January 14). 40+ Video Marketing Statistics for 2019. Social Media Today. Retrieved from https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/40-video-marketing-statistics-for-2019-infographic/545887/
Social Media Fact Sheet. (2019, June 12). Pew Research Center – Internet and Technology. Retrieved from https://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/