Whether you own a firm or work for one of the largest ones in the country, having an individual social media presence provides many professional benefits that help keep you at the top of your practice. Even if the firm you work for has a presence on social media like LinkedIn and Twitter, setting up your own professional channels helps to position you as an expert in your field, and make you the first choice for those who need your services.
You may think Facebook is best left to your teenager, but Nielsen research shows the heaviest social media users are those in Generation X, ages 35 to 49, who spend about seven hours a week on social channels. They look online when they need help, and they share referrals with friends for business.
With a quarter of Americans using ad blockers online, according to eMarketer, spreading the word about your services through social media is an effective way to gain exposure and increase credibility. Getting on social media doesn’t mean you have to waste time sharing silly videos or commenting on memes that have nothing to do with your industry. Here are some ways a professional social media presence can be a powerful tool to market yourself.
Serve as a Brand Advocate for Your Firm
If your firm is already on social media, you probably already have access to a wealth of relevant content you can share with a few simple clicks. For example, Pittman Dutton & Hellums, a Birmingham law firm for personal injury litigation, regularly updates its Facebook page with information regarding safety, as well as content about the firm’s culture. Lawyers at the firm can share that content with their own followers, which not only provides interesting updates, but also increases the awareness of the firm’s brand.
Being a brand advocate for your firm provides benefits such as:
- Your firm is more likely to promote you on social media. Social media is all about reciprocity. If you’re sharing your firm’s updates, the next update you post yourself may be shared back on its pages, which widens your marketing reach.
- You can engage better with your followers. If your firm is taking the time to produce appealing material, your followers will appreciate reading it. Sharing it means they’ll be more likely to tune in to future messages you post, which may serve to boost your business.
- You reinforce your professionalism. When you post compelling, interesting content, even if you didn’t write it, your stature as a professional may be elevated because you are the one who shared it.
Whether it’s posting the latest blog post from your company’s website, or using tweets to consistently post useful information, it’s easy to populate your social media presence with content your firm has already made available.
Enhance Your Expertise
One of the most important social networks is LinkedIn, which is dedicated to working professionals. As of February 2017, 80% of B2B links are coming from LinkedIn, and 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for content distribution. LinkedIn is a fantastic site for sharing industry-related articles or opinion pieces. If you’ve written an article for another website, you may be able to repurpose the content and post it on LinkedIn, citing the original publisher while getting it seen by more people. Any type of content you created, from e-books to webinars, can be uploaded to your professional page or shared as an update for followers.
If you have little time to write original content, simply sharing updates or getting involved in group discussions can help in getting you seen, respected and contacted. Thousands of law-related groups are on LinkedIn, where you can participate in Q&A-style discussions, or share links to interesting articles you’ve read. The Accountant-Lawyer Alliance on LinkedIn, for example, has more than 80,000 members who share knowledge and discuss issues affecting both industries. By actively participating in the LinkedIn industry groups, you can increase your leads and presence in your industry.
Connect with Peers
If you’re an introvert who hates in-person networking or you just don’t have time to attend weekly mixers, social media gives you a place to connect with peers and build relationships that can turn into powerful referrals. It’s well-known how important networking is, so don’t ignore the social media avenue and benefits it provides your business. You can connect with other law professionals in your local area, build relationships with mentors, and increase your network across the country so you can gain insight into other regions and form solid contacts.
Like any in-person relationship, having a successful social connection requires commitments from both parties. Regularly check in with your online colleagues to see what they’re working on and if you can provide assistance. Offer to share the latest article they wrote, and see if they’re willing to share your content if it’s useful to their followers. Engage in their content, through commenting or sharing it on your own page. When you offer your time to promote the content you genuinely enjoy and think your followers would, too, you’ll gain the benefit of them sharing your content with their audiences, who could turn into clients or referrals for clients.
Connect with Local Businesses
Social media is one of the easiest ways to connect with local businesses, as well as entrepreneurs who may be forming businesses soon and haven’t hired a lawyer yet. The people who run successful local businesses are valuable influencers. They know a lot of people with high incomes, and their voice and opinion offline and online matters. Using influencers who have the authority to encourage sales in their communities is one of the most important marketing strategies for businesses today. The 2016 Influencer Marketing Report by Chute shows 66% of marketers used influencers in their marketing strategies in 2016.
As a law professional, it may be more difficult compared to other industries to pinpoint influencers in your niche. By using social media to connect with prominent local businesses that you know well and that serve your target demographic, you can gain referrers whose opinion matters to their customers.
Stay Up-to-Date in Your Field
Beyond updating your certifications and taking courses in your field, you can use social media as a news source to see what issues are most prominently affecting your clients and potential clients. Current events may affect your industry, new federal laws may change how you practice, and local news may forecast future trends. What’s occurring in the news has an impact on public opinion, which could affect everything from how a jury reacts to testimony, to how a client receives your recommendations in a case. Social media also makes it easier to learn what’s happening in your practice area in other areas of the country—for example, if you do personal injury litigation in New York, you may want to follow the LinkedIn page of a similar firm in Phoenix or Los Angeles or Birmingham, AL, to find out what practitioners are experiencing outside of your region. If you ever plan to relocate, social media also can help you build up contacts and knowledge about the area before you move.
Online discussions in social media also gives you more marketing insight for other campaigns. If you decide to expand your practice to a service that mainly affects millennials, learning how to better relate to them through their posts gives you an advantage. Social media gives you the opportunity to anticipate ways to relate better to future clients, and you might even notice events talked about online that foreshadow developments in your field.
The key to success on any site you join is to make sure you’re complying with your firm’s standards for personal social media use, while portraying yourself as professionally and genuinely as possible. If your firm does not have established social media policies, be sure to see these tips for avoiding ethical lapses when using social media from the American Bar Association.
Forge connections online with the same dedication you show offline. Share support for others if you want to reap the online marketing benefits yourself, and use your time wisely by participating in industry-related discussions and networking with businesses and influencers who best relate to your brand and demographic. Be sure to include clear contact information so that those leads who discover you on social media can easily get in touch with you when they need your services.
About the Author
Jon Mann is an attorney with Pittman, Dutton & Hellums, P.C, in Birmingham, AL, primarily practicing in product liability, auto and trucking accidents, insurance fraud, bad faith, personal injury matters, mass torts, and commercial litigation.