It can be overwhelming to make sense of social media. There is a new buzzword or a new platform screaming for your attention every single day: Periscope. Meerkat. Social influence. Peer-to-peer. Klout score. Pretty soon it starts to sound like a foreign language.
Here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to be this complicated. When you boil it down and get past the buzzwords, it’s a simple concept—social media is a channel for people to communicate with each other. Centuries ago we carved images into cave walls; today we upload them to Facebook or blast them out on Snapchat. Don’t let the buzzwords intimidate you. Social media is just a channel to reach the outside world. This article will tell you what you need to know to make social media work for your law firm.
But before we dive in to the specifics, let’s talk about expectations. This is where many lawyers go wrong.
Don’t expect social media to be a sales tool. Yes, you can bring in new business as a result of your social media activity. But if your primary focus is self-promotion, and the only way you measure success is by new matters generated, your audience is going to tune you out, and you’re going to end up frustrated.
Instead, look at your social media presence as a way to build relationships with potential clients and referral sources. Look at it as a way to build your brand as an expert in your area of practice. Look at social media as an opportunity to present yourself as approachable and trustworthy.
Now let’s get practical. Get these two steps right and you are well on your way to creating a social media presence that functions as a valuable component of your business development process:
First, create a consistent presence in the right places.
Most law firms can safely ignore Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Periscope, and most other “trendy” social platforms. You should focus on the basics, starting with LinkedIn and Facebook. Every lawyer should have a LinkedIn profile. If your target market includes professionals and business owners, you should be active on LinkedIn. If the majority of your business comes from consumers, your law firm should have an active Facebook page.
Consistent activity is important—don’t create a presence and then disappear for weeks at a time. We recommend posting daily, or at least several times per week. What type of content should you post? That brings us to our next point…
Your focus must be on providing value for your audience.
It’s all about the value you provide.
Give your followers a reason to pay attention to your social media presence. Otherwise—and this isn’t rocket science—they’re not going to!
There are many different ways you can provide value and keep your audience engaged. For example:
- Share and analyze news that matters to your industry. If you work in estate planning and your state just passed a new law about property distribution, explain how the change will impact your clients and what they should do to prepare.
- Share practical resources. If you come across a newspaper column or a website that is relevant to your practice and provides insight for your audience… share it.
- Publish blog entries and other content that you’ve created. As long as it’s relevant, sharing content that you wrote is valuable to your audience and highly effective at establishing your own expertise.
- Inspire and entertain. Share humorous or inspiring quotes and ideas that you come across. However, make sure that they are relevant to the brand you’re working to build. For example, if you’re a tax attorney, share some of your favorite IRS jokes. This is a great way to keep your audience interested and share a bit of your personality at the same time.
Let’s talk about why this is worth your time and effort. If you develop a social media presence in the right places, and if you consistently provide valuable content to your audience, here’s what you can expect:
Top-of-mind awareness with potential clients who don’t have an immediate need.
What happens when someone you meet is impressed by your ability but doesn’t have an immediate need of your services? In most cases, they forget about you over the course of a few months. But if you can engage them on social media, you’ll stay top-of-mind, and when they have a need months or years down the road… they’ll think of you.
How many people do you know that like you, trust you, and would happily refer business to you but just don’t think of you when the opportunity arises? Social media allows you to stay connected to these people and increases the chances that they’ll make the connection when they have an opportunity.
Increased ROI from other forms of marketing.
These days, most consumers check the internet before hiring a professional – even if they heard a commercial on the radio or were referred by a friend. So when these individuals look you up, what will they find? If they find an active, credible, and engaging social media presence they’re more likely to pick up the phone and call you up. This makes ALL of your other marketing and business development perform better.
New strategic opportunities.
One of the most interesting aspects of social media is the degree to which it connects people. You’ll meet people that you never would have connected with in “real life” and this can lead to all sorts of opportunities, including the chance to appear on a radio talk show, an invitation to speak at a conference, or a request to co-author an article or even a book. The possibilities are endless, and the more you build your brand as a respected expert in your area of practice, the more sought-after you will become.
Social media doesn’t have to be intimidating. Despite the buzzwords and the rapidly-evolving technology, social media is nothing more than a way to communicate with the world around you. Stop overthinking it, focus on these simple practical steps, and you’ll be ahead of the game.
About the Author
Daniel Decker is a partner at Spotlight Branding where he focuses on marketing strategy. He blogs at spotlightbranding.com/blog.
(Feature Image Credit: ShutterStock)