As an attorney, you know that attracting and retaining great clients is all about strong communication skills. First impressions are important, and remaining in close contact throughout the legal process inspires trust and instills confidence. Once a case wraps up, you follow up to ensure your now-former clients are satisfied with their representation and to let them know you’re available in the future should they need your legal advice or counsel.
When using social media to market your law firm, the same principles apply. You need to leverage your skill and experience, your practice areas, your brand, and, most importantly, your unique character traits to put your best foot forward. In doing so, you’ll create an inviting digital experience that will generate new leads and help you maintain relationships with current and former clients.
Unfortunately, using social media marketing to secure clients who generate a solid return on investment is easier said than done, but there is a general formula for continued success. The variables depend on your firm’s unique characteristics, but by following a thoughtful plan and seeing it through, the likelihood of achieving your goals increases substantially.
The Importance of Social Media Marketing for Law Firms
Some attorneys and firms fail to see the value in social media marketing. It’s a different approach from other traditional marketing methods, such as placing an advertisement in the Yellow Pages or sending out a direct mailer twice a year, so their cautious approach is understandable. The lack of familiarity with the medium can lead to a general mistrust of the very idea of social media marketing. However, this is a narrow view of an expansive opportunity, especially when you begin thinking of social media as a powerful communications tool instead of a glorified ATM.
For example, growing firms have historically viewed television as their final frontier — the preferred medium for a major media buy and the one that could permanently separate them from the competition. Now that streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have started to take over our viewing time, however, YouTube has emerged as an affordable and effective alternative to traditional broadcasting. In fact, YouTube has more than 1 billion users and reaches more individuals between 18–49 than any TV network in America. This widespread usage presents a great opportunity for creating organic video content and for producing brief advertising content that can work across numerous formats.
Social media can also serve as an excellent introduction to prospective clients. According to surveys, 59 percent of American social media users feel social media has made customer service easier and more efficient, which means there’s a huge portion of your audience that already trusts online customer service and is likely willing to reach out through a social media channel.
Twitter, messaging applications, and chatbots make it easy for these prospects to get in touch with you and ask important questions about their legal circumstances as well as your firm. Once they do, you have a golden opportunity to provide them with accurate, timely information, which could put them into your sales funnel if your firm fits their needs.
Assuming your firm has a consistent and calculated content marketing and management plan in place, social media can help you drastically increase traffic to your content. And with solid link-building strategies, you can also use social media to increase traffic to your website and boost your overall numbers of conversions, leads, and clients.
With Social Media, It’s Best to Walk Before You Run
As with most digital marketing initiatives, the number one deterrent to social media success is failing to develop and draft a comprehensive, thoughtful plan before getting started. Prospective clients don’t want a bunch of uninformative, boring content from unfamiliar sources filling up their social feeds, and they’ll quickly sever all social media ties if this is all you’re delivering. You must consider how you want to target and approach these prospects before you start firing off non-sequitur tweets (not naming any names), which requires a bit of research and planning — the hallmarks of any good digital marketing campaign.
Successful social media presences are built gradually. To succeed, you need to understand your audience and the sort of content that will interest and benefit them most. This means reviewing your competitors’ platforms and using your client personas to research which types of content they are viewing, liking, sharing, and retweeting. Remember that it’s not about reaching as many people as possible (at least, not at first). Rather, it’s about providing fun and useful content that positions your firm as a thought leader in your field. (If you build it, they will come.)
Once your ideal clients have a solid grasp on who you are as a firm and how you communicate, you can begin letting your firm’s culture and your unique personality shine through. Develop a voice and tone that connect with your community and align with your brand. Build value by truly engaging with your followers instead of just promoting your services or reposting dated content.
As an attorney, your prospective clients are looking to you for answers, so connect with them on a personal level whenever possible: create and advertise a webinar, engage in the comments section of a Facebook post, retweet their positive reviews and thank them for their business, or even host a monthly “ask me anything” (AMA) session with the firm’s partners.
Above all, remember that a good social media strategy is first and foremost geared toward spreading awareness. If you don’t have a firm grasp on what defines your brand, you shouldn’t be allocating your resources toward social media. A disjointed social media presence that lacks consistent branding will just confuse your audience and steer them toward your competitors.
Listen to Our Podcast: Making Sense of Social Media, With Ethan Wall
Best Practices for Sustaining and Increasing Your Firm’s Social Media Presence
Social media is still in its infancy as a technology, which means the landscape of platforms and the public’s preferences regarding them change constantly. For proof, just look at the recent Facebook scandal involving Cambridge Analytica. Facebook’s data-sharing missteps have already cost them billions in revenue as well as a major portion of their social media market share. And with millennials flocking to sites like Instagram and Snapchat, it’s clear that image-based content is rapidly eclipsing text-based content in popularity.
Still, for all the rising and falling tides in the social media world, certain best practices remain constant and will continue to lift all boats. And that’s because these best practices are rooted in proven marketing and sales strategies rather than short-term social media trends.
Focus on Analytics:
If your firm has a reliable customer relationship management (CRM) platform and an equally reliable staff to facilitate it, you should be integrating all social media activity into the CRM. Be sure to segment your audience based on their behavior and your practice areas and remember to collect all relevant data. Review the available metrics regularly to learn more about trends in your user base (gender, age, languages, location, interests, content and posts they visit most, etc.). Create clear reports from this information and adjust your content strategy based on the results.
Don’t Promote — Engage:
While you undoubtedly have a wealth of knowledge to share with your prospective clients, that’s not necessarily the first thing they want to see or hear from you, whether online or in person. Humanize your firm by showing that you’re a collection of hard-working colleagues who care about your clients and each other. Post images of your staff having fun at a potluck or company outing. Write and share blogs about key stakeholders volunteering at or sponsoring community events. Promote client success stories that focus on conveying the client’s experience of your firm in their own words. These tactics will encourage your prospects to view you and your team as compassionate professionals they can trust to represent them.
Publish With Purpose:
Always try to publish at the times that your core audience tends to be online and active, and bear in mind their browsing behavior will likely vary by platform. Every post should include a shortened and trackable link, a clear image, and a compelling call-to-action (CTA). Make sure to A/B test copy and images periodically, and always align publishing dates and times with other digital marketing campaigns (email automation, paid digital advertising, etc.). Holistic campaigns work in tandem, so follow this best practice to get the most mileage out of the content you’re working so hard to create.
Advertise to Optimize:
As people continue to use social media as a de facto search engine, paid social advertising is becoming more cost-effective and beneficial. Although advertising on social can be lucrative, be mindful of how you structure your campaigns and spend your budget. Focus on preferred audiences whose demographics, interests, and behaviors align with your personas. A/B test each element of your campaigns, block unwanted audience segments, and create an accurate list of negative keywords. Always track analytics and adjust your campaigns accordingly. This is your best chance to translate the awareness you’ve sown with your organic campaigns into a tangible return on investment, so monitor your ads daily to avoid wasted spend and capitalize on your existing audience.
The Future of Social Media Marketing in the Legal Sphere
The best practices listed above should serve as the cornerstones of your social media marketing initiatives. When it comes to social, there’s nothing wrong with following the audience and riding the biggest wave. The consumer dictates the platform, and the marketer should adapt to meet their needs.
This means you need to adopt strategies that are optimized for mobile, and you also need to make good use of your video content. In 2012, Facebook’s mobile app generated only 10% of their ad revenue. Flash forward to 2017, and that number had skyrocketed to 82%. As consumer behavior shifted, Facebook adapted, and you and your firm should follow suit.
As an extension, you might also consider capitalizing on emerging platforms beyond the “Big Three” of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We know audiences of all shapes and sizes love visual content, so give the people what they want. We’ve already discussed how YouTube can help promote and reinforce your brand, but you should also examine SnapChat and Instagram since these two platforms offer a chance for you to showcase the relatable side of your firm. You might also use these platforms to share photos that capture the essence and beauty of your service area and the people who inhabit it, showing them that you’re a part of their community and that you understand their needs and concerns.
Another option is to create professional Reddit handles that are representative of your firm and then use those accounts to get involved in your community in fun ways. Reddit is exceptionally popular, and it continues to grow as millennials move into the professional sphere. Consider hosting an AMA or seeking out legal subreddits where you can offer help to users and legal peers. Answer questions wherever possible and be sure to link to helpful pages on your site and optimize for conversions by directing other users to your contact page. Make your presence as a community member known by entering discussions about local sports teams, events, and inside jokes. Remain tasteful, never engage with trolls, and keep things affable but professional.
Again, social media is all about crafting your firm’s public-facing brand while remaining true to who you are, so make sure your actions are representative of how you want to be perceived and have fun with it!
Grow Your Social Media Presence With LaFleur
At LaFleur, we understand that social media is a major part of a sound holistic marketing strategy because it can increase your target audience’s awareness of your firm, your work, and your community involvement. Our marketing specialists have decades of combined experience working on local and national campaigns with respected firms, and we would love to put our expertise to work for you.
Please call (888) 222-1512 today or complete this brief form to schedule a discussion session so we can get a sense of your firm’s needs and begin developing potential solutions. And if you would like to get a sense of our approach to social media (or any other digital marketing strategy), please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our LinkedIn page!
Andrews, M. (2018, February 9). The future of social media is here: These are the trends you need to know. HubSpot. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/future-of-social-media-trends
Ghergich, A.J. (2018, March 6). Social media best practices for 2018 (Infographic). ReturnOnNow. Retrieved from: https://returnonnow.com/2018/03/social-media-best-practices-2018/
Lister, M. (2018, April 18). 40 Essential Social Media Marketing Statistics for 2018. WordStream. Retrieved from https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/01/05/social-media-marketing-statistics
Mulvey. J. (2015, February 3). The 5 ways law firms are using social media listening. Hootsuite. Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/law-firms-social-media/