It’s 2017, and at this point, most lawyers have accepted that they need to have some type of presence on social media. Maybe it’s a LinkedIn profile, maybe it’s a Facebook business page, maybe it’s a Twitter account, or maybe you’re not sure where to begin.
The problem is that “social media presence” is an impossibly nebulous term and just deciding that it’s “time to get on social media” is so vague that it doesn’t really mean anything. Today, I’m going to try to create some clarity by sharing our recommended approach to social media.
What’s The Goal?
It starts with defining your objectives. What are you hoping for and expecting from your social media strategy? How will you measure success? If you don’t take the time to think this through, you’re flying blind. Here’s how we think most small law firms can best use social media:
To Create Top-Of-Mind Awareness
Staying top-of-mind with your clients and your network is a critical part of maximizing your referrals. Social media provides an ideal channel to create quick touch-points multiple times per week – ensuring that when the opportunity for a referral arises, your referral sources think of you and make the connection.
To Enhance Credibility
Use social media as a platform to demonstrate your expertise and your status as a thought-leader within your area of practice. Do this by sharing blog entries and articles you’ve written, by sharing news developments that impact your target market, and by promoting media appearances, speaking opportunities, and other events that showcase your expertise. Position yourself as in expert in your practice area—over time, this becomes a powerful marketing advantage.
To Build A Consistent Brand
Building an effective brand requires consistency and repetition. Use your social media presence to reinforce your focus and to communicate this focus with your target market. Make it crystal clear who you work with and what type of work you do for them. Resist the temptation to post whatever crosses your mind that day and instead stay focused on building a consistent brand. That’s not to say you can’t be spontaneous, but do your best to stay on message in the process. In addition to consistency of message, it’s also important to post on a regular schedule. You can’t disappear for weeks at a time and expect to build an engaged following. We recommend posting to most social media channels on a daily basis – at minimum, every other day.
To Educate And Engage Your Audience
One of the important functions of your internet foundation (of which social media is an integral part) is to condition and pre-educate potential clients and referral sources. It’s an opportunity to set expectations for your clients. Done right, it can actually help you weed out clients who are not a good fit for your practice, while at the same time attracting your ideal clients. Many lawyers have reported that their “closing” process is much faster, smoother, and more efficient as a result of their social media presence—because the “nightmare clients” have been filtered out already, and the good clients have been pre-educated and are excited to get the ball rolling.
You may have noticed something that was not on this list—lead generation. Now let’s be clear: social media can be a source of leads for your law practice. Depending on what type of law you practice and depending on your target market, you may well have potential clients reach out to you directly on Facebook or on LinkedIn. But lead generation should not be your primary focus on social media and it shouldn’t be how you measure success. The reality is that most social media users aren’t actively looking to hire a lawyer. When you use your social media presence as a non-stop promotion machine, you alienate a good portion of your audience because they simply aren’t interested in a never-ending sales pitch. Instead, engage your audience, build a following, and focus on the four objectives outlined above.
If you want more information on this topic, we’ve created a special report entitled Five Ways Your Internet Foundation Will Make or Break Your Marketing. In it, we discuss the optimal social media strategy for your law firm, among other topics. It’s available for free download here.