Friends and Followers —The Essentials of Social Media Strategy
The world of social media is big, sometimes scary, and ever-changing. With so many platforms and options for sharing your content, how do you narrow down the field and decide where to focus your efforts?
For law firms, this can be even more difficult to pin down. Because of the professional and confidential nature of the legal industry, many firms err on the side of caution when sharing information. Sometimes, they refuse to participate in social media altogether. Ignoring social media (or taking a standoff approach) are two sure-fire ways to miss out on huge opportunities for growing your business. Use of social media is so widespread that 52% of online adults use two or more social media sites, and it’s not just 18 to 25 year olds—the demographics of the adults using those sites varies widely. To ignore social media and not develop some sort of online presence, then, will cause your business to stagnate, if not set you back.
Where to Begin
Developing a policy, even just a general one, within your law firm regarding how to engage with social media is important. The core of your business is professionalism and ethical engagement with your clients and community. Representing and cultivating your law firm brand to uphold the same standards you have within the office is key. Everything you do online should speak to the integrity of your brand. At LaFleur, we understand the nuances of social media engagement, what information should be shared, and what information must remain confidential. We know that different platforms offer unique ways to engage with specific audiences, and we know how to utilize those varied platforms to share information with the public that is valuable and that effectively communicates the essence of your firm.
On the most basic level, social media is about being in the moment and sharing relevant information in a timely manner. Working with a marketing firm you trust to represent your brand without handholding and requiring constant review of every small detail will allow your firm to have the competitive advantage that effective social media engagement can provide.
Understanding the role different social media platforms play is another key element of a good social media strategy. Are you using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn? How about Instagram or Pinterest? Does your law firm need a presence on every possible platform? How do you tell which ones can provide value for your company and which ones just waste time? Below is a brief outline of the five most valuable social media platforms that law firms should definitely be engaging with:
1. Your Blog
Your blog is typically found on your webpage and should be updated regularly. The content you put on your blog is incredibly important. This is the essence of your firm, the place you want to share relevant and timely stories as well as information that pertains to your practice. Your blog is where you establish your firm as a thought leader.
Making Your Blog Effective:
LaFleur stays abreast of relevant news and issues related to your firm’s cornerstone practice areas in order to generate well-researched, valuable, informative content. We also work closely with your firm, so if an important case is settled, your firm is recognized for an award, or an exciting new change happens within the office, that information also makes its way into an outstanding blog post.
For your blog, all content must be shaped in a way that is clear, concise, and devoid of “legalese” because of the wide audience—from potential clients to fellow lawyers in your field—who will be reading it. However, it should still be eloquent and well-written. You want to make a good first impression for those reading it.
Your blog posts are often shared on other social platforms. Frequently, your blog is the first glimpse people will have of your website—and your firm. Creating a consistent voice that represents the values of your firm makes you real and reachable, leading to new clients and more exposure.
LinkedIn is a boon for lawyers and firms. As a business-driven social network, LinkedIn is where you can connect with professionals in your field, build your own reputation, and interact with potential leads. LinkedIn is fundamentally different from other social media sites because of the professional nature of the platform. You should have a company LinkedIn profile as well as a personal one, and both should be maintained and updated frequently.
Making LinkedIn Effective:
Your profiles need to be complete and comprehensive. You want to make sure that what you are sharing aligns with what your firm represents. Don’t be vague and faceless—make sure you use pictures, compelling headlines, and links back to your website and/or blog. You are essentially sharing your firm’s (or your) resume, but don’t simply rehash information that is already available on your website. As in all things social media, make your profiles compelling and interesting. Once the basics are established, you’ll want to start seeking out connections. Consider other lawyers and law firms you have worked with, medical experts you’ve consulted with for trials, and (possibly) former clients.
It’s important to note that your profile URL can be customized beyond the generic one initially assigned by LinkedIn. This is great to add to your business card and is easier to remember.
Like all social media platforms, timely updates are crucial for keeping people engaged. The information you share on LinkedIn may need to be different or phrased differently than the information you share on sites like Facebook or Twitter. LaFleur Legal Marketing carefully crafts updates that appeal to the more professionally-minded demographic who frequents LinkedIn.
We’ve discussed the power of video before, and YouTube remains one of the most under-utilized marketing platforms for law firms. You possess a wealth of knowledge, and legal issues are often confusing to the general consumer. Why not share your expertise on a broad scale?
FAQ videos give you the opportunity to showcase what your firm does as well as give a voice and personality to the people behind the firm. Client testimonials are great ways to show how your firm operates and the value of the services you provide in a very real, tangible, relatable way.
Making YouTube Effective:
YouTube videos should be optimized and professionally shot and edited as much as possible. Nothing says “I want to hire that guy!” like poor audio quality and MS Paint-level backgrounds. Your videos should be long enough to share the information, but not so long that you bore your viewers. It’s also important to offer opportunities throughout the video to drive traffic back to your website and to convey methods of contact for potential clients.
Consumers turn to social media for pretty much everything these days, and one of the most frequented platforms is Facebook. A social media networking site that allows you to connect with friends, family, companies, and more, Facebook is still the dominant social site. Simply posing a question on your feed to your “friends” can lead to a recommendation for your firm.
Making Facebook Effective:
Like anything you are sharing socially about your firm, make sure that your profile is complete and represents exactly what your firm stands for and who you are. Include profile photos, cover pages, and video links to generate likes and engagement. Develop your style and voice, but also remember that this platform is more informal and far-reaching than LinkedIn. Be genuine and authentic. Share a healthy mixture between professional and personal with your posts. This isn’t to say you should write a post about your golf score this weekend, but you can share aspects of your personality that tie in favorably with your community or profession. For instance, if you’re an avid cyclist and you recently were involved in a charity race in your town, let your followers know. Facebook allows you to build relationships on a more intimate level, which can foster community, establish rapport, and lead to in-person meetings down the road.
140 characters: that’s all you have to get your message across on Twitter. The most time-sensitive and to-the-minute of social media platforms, your posted tweets can reach an incredibly wide audience. People are also able to retweet your post, which links back to your page. With Twitter, you can follow influencers and share relevant information from those inside and outside of your industry.
Making Twitter Effective:
Know what to tweet, and definitely know what NOT to tweet. And make sure you know when to move a conversation off of your social media page and into an in-person meeting or e-mail. What is most engaging, and potentially the best aspect of Twitter, is the fact that you can listen. From legal news to influencers in your field and beyond, Twitter provides valuable and relevant real-time conversation tools. Connecting to individuals out there who are looking for your type of services is another great way to use Twitter. Just like Facebook, a question can be posed by any user; from there, you might be the firm recommended to answer, or you may be able to employ methods to engage with that user directly.
But Wait, There’s More!
There are many other nuanced and critical things to think about when shaping and developing a comprehensive social media strategy as well as when creating individual social media or blog posts. Visuals play a vital role in increasing views and shares—and in drawing the eye to the content that is created. You continuously have to be on the lookout for timely, relevant content. And from headlines, targeted keywords, SEO effectiveness, mobile/app friendliness, time of day for posting, and even preferred character length of posts, managing your social media presence is more involved than you may think.
At LaFleur, our team is well-versed in the minutia, and we are consistently seeking out new data to apply to our social media tactics. It’s an ever-changing world, and keeping current can be time-consuming. Instead of starting from scratch and having to maintain all of your social media channels yourself, spend your time doing what you need to do, and allow us to maintain these sites for you.
Once your profiles are operational and optimized, the main focus of your social media marketing should be on gaining new followers and driving user engagement. After all, what’s the use of all the posting and tweeting if no one is seeing it? You need followers, and there are many ways to get them. One of our upcoming blog posts will share more insight into how to drive engagement on social media, which will in turn drive traffic to your website and hopefully to your office. We’ll talk about different methods to reach the widest possible audience—and how to make sure you are getting the right type of engagement.
Pew Research Center. (2015, January 9). Social media update 2014. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/social-media-update-2014/