Social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter provide a great platform for law firms, individual lawyers, and other professionals to build their profile and to position their expertise in a specific industry, topic, or area of law.
Keep these four goals top of mind as you develop your social media approach and your skills.
Purpose: Why are you using this platform? Have a clear purpose.
Audience: Who are you talking to? Say something of value to people that matter to you.
Engage: Extend your relationships online and spark new ones by being active, not passive.
Care: Keep your professional goals in mind at all times.
As a simple guide, these 10 dos and don’ts will help you get the most from your time on social media.
1) Remember your audience
Who do you want to follow you? Keep the tone and topics aligned to your target audience and business development goals. Write with a business audience in mind, not a legal one.
What do your clients and contacts talk about? What do your potential clients want to hear about? Focus on issues related to your business, sectors of value to you, and the topics covered in recent company articles and posts to demonstrate consistent expertise.
2) Set expectations
What do you expect to achieve from your time on Linkedin and/or Twitter? Are you using it for news or learning about an industry? Engagement with clients and targets or profiling an area of expertise/new practice? Be clear about your purpose and develop your activity with that in mind. Followers also should know what to expect from you; we recommend 3-5 reposts per week and 1-5 original posts.
3) Follow the rules
For example, stick to short posts on Twitter to stay within their 280 character limit. Word abbreviations are expected on social media accounts, i.e. orgs, prof., b/c, w/o, etc.
4) Shorten links
Save character space and track link activity using link shorteners like Bitly (paste your link into bit.ly and it provides a short URL to use).
5) Join and start conversations
Balance owned content (meaning content you produce, such as articles and commentary) and shared content (reposts, comments on others’ feeds). Seasoned social media users will feel comfortable opening up questions to their followers, groups, and inviting debate.
6) Name drop
Always use @mention when reposting or to reference or credit other authors, companies, individuals. This calls their attention to your post and encourages engagement from them.
7) Post live
Post about event attendance in advance “Looking forward to…” Repost 1-2 organizer posts and at the event, take photos of screens, slides, stages, anything of interest; quote speakers, name inspirational concepts, summarize discussions, and @ other attendees. Your firm account should repost any interesting team-member posts about events.
8) Use hashtags to highlight key themes
Use # to be part of trending themes, identify campaigns or stories, or to categorize your post topic. This helps social media users search for relevant topics. Hashtags can be within your post sentence to save space or placed at the end.
9) Engage your community
Comment, share, favorite, and repost posts of those in your community. Be positive! Everyone enjoys support and encouragement, and remember to say thank you for positive comments. Reposts can be used to show support for a colleague, client, or a company you admire.
10) Vary content type
Use a mix of text, summaries, quotes, key points, excerpts, pictures, video, whitepapers, and graphics to give your feed variety and interest.
1) Follow just anyone
Carefully curate the list of the accounts you follow. Create a “watch list” of news, industry/trade associations, clients, companies of interest, people you find informative, peers (to see what they are up to!), international firms, and maybe just add a few wildcards for fun!
Ideally, your feed gives you information on the business of law and trends in legal tech, commercial insights, and news of business you would not get elsewhere. And don’t automatically follow back those who follow you. There are lots of accounts that will follow you temporarily for commercial reasons (but drop you later).
2) Expect immediate results
Building anything of value takes effort and time. Building your social media profile takes time. Do not be discouraged if there is little initial interaction. Seek internal or external marketing support if you are struggling, keep on posting relevant content in a consistent pattern and your followers list will grow. Ideally, within a year, you will follow half the amount of people who follow you.
3) Try to be perfect
The beauty of social is its immediacy and authenticity. Grammar and sentence structure may suffer to allow you to get your point across in short sentences.
4) Ignore @mentions
Don’t forget to check your notifications for @mentions on your social handles and replies to comments you made on other posts.
5) Forget your insights
Serial reposters are viewed as hiding or piggybacking other people’s content and effort unless you add your own views or an individual comment, even if it’s very simple, i.e.: “We see XYZ as increasingly important to XYZ clients—valuable research on this from @company.”
6) Inadvertently plagiarize
If you do not @ people when quoting or referencing their content, you are essentially claiming credit.
7) Overdo event posts
The goal at events is to show the connection to your business community, be informative, and summarize your key takeaways. It can be tempting to snap and post more than your audience will be interested in. If you are unsure, wait until after the event and choose 2-3 takeaways to post about. 1-4 posts per event are plenty. Longer conferences merit more.
8) Disrupt readability
When you use #hashtags in your posts it shows up as linked text. Too many links make messages hard to read and can disrupt the power of the message. Hard to read posts will be scrolled over. Pick one or two #hashtags that are relevant to your post, and place them wisely.
9) Engage the haters
Occasionally companies get negative commentary on specific posts or general service comments. It is best to either ignore or stay positive eg: “we welcome healthy debate where opinions differ to ours, but in our experience…” or take it offline: “we would be happy to discuss this with you in person”
10) Be too needy
You are hoping to earn people’s continued interest and following. Don’t explicitly ask for follows or clicks or other “salesy” calls to actions other than providing links. Avoid phrases like “click here.”