As many of you may have heard by now, social media is the new solution to all of your marketing needs and the one true king of all media. Whether that is true or not, social media has opened up a whole new means of “free” (more on that later) marketing for lawyers and law firms and given us the ability to reach clients anywhere in the world nearly instantaneously. Most lawyers are already familiar with and possibly even using the popular ‘grams, ‘books, and ‘chats that comprise the modern social media landscape. Note that I generally do not include the more “professional” networking sites when discussing social media because of the nature of my practice, though others would certainly disagree. But, regardless of what channels you are using to market via social media, the real challenge is ensuring that you are using social media effectively. Believe it or not, using social media means more than just posting photos of you in court or eating at your favorite restaurant.
Most lawyers and law firms today understand the importance of social media and have at least a basic presence on the more popular platforms. This generally means, at a minimum, a Facebook page, Instagram account, and Twitter account for the particular lawyer or law firm. For those that don’t have this bare minimum presence, it is incredibly important to recognize that you should register and control each of the above accounts for yourself and your law firm even if you do not intend to use them for marketing! Why? The same reason that major soft drink companies continually come out with new products that eat into their own sales—if you don’t, your competitors will. Even if someone else wouldn’t register social media accounts in your name for nefarious reasons, it is entirely possible that another lawyer or law firm in another part of the country may just have the same or very similar name. Trust me, I can speak from experience. It just so happens there’s another lawyer with my exact same first and last name in my city. Not to mention, my last name just so happens to be identical to what I’m told is a beautiful beach in California. This is even more important for those lawyers and law firms that operate under DBAs relating to their practices. Securing your social media accounts should take the same level of priority as securing your domain name(s).
But merely having a presence on the major platforms isn’t enough. Like virtually every other industry, the legal industry must continue to adapt to the ever-increasing challenges of grabbing potential clients’ attention while remaining professional and complying with relevant ethics rules. Recognizing exactly who your potential clients are and how they use social media is a critically important part of this challenge.
A bankruptcy or personal injury attorney, for example, may have great success in using social media as a direct means of marketing to potential clients. Dozens of books and whole companies are built around the use of paid social media ads as a means to draw large numbers of clients to these types of practices. The cost of these ads and services can quickly skyrocket, though many lawyers and law firms report great success in using them. On the other hand, large, corporate law practices may be better served by using social media to build and maintain the firm’s reputation, as opposed to looking for the next major client. Instead of paid ads, these firms may benefit from highlighting individual lawyers or staff and their accomplishments as a means of promoting the firm more generally.
Regardless of who your clients are, one of the best ways that social media can be used is to build—and protect—your brand. Some lawyers may be quick to dismiss the idea that they even need a brand, considering that we are supposed to be professionals who let our work speak for itself. While I certainly respect that opinion, I do not think the concepts are mutually exclusive. Whether you realize it or not, your brand is being shaped online with or without your input, and social media is one of the best ways to make sure that your brand is a fair depiction of you.
For example, even well-established firms that do not actively market on the internet and have no social media presence will have an online brand. In today’s environment, the multitude of legal directories, review aggregators, and even bar websites create a picture of you and your law firm whether you are participating in it or not. For those lawyers and law firms that are not actively managing their profiles on these websites, the information listed there tends to be barebones and is largely drawn from public information that can be outdated or even wrong. If a potential or current client, opposing counsel, or even a judge does decide to run a search for that lawyer or law firm, they may not be impressed with what they find. Actively managing your social media presence is a great way to build or enhance your online presence and make sure that the message conveyed to people who are searching for you is the message that you want them to see and hear.
But, in addition to simply protecting your brand, appropriate use of social media can allow you to build a new channel of communication with the public. Establishing a regular schedule of posts makes it easier to keep up with and also helps your audience find your posts. I encourage you to incorporate some of your personality into your posts as well, if that is something that is part of your brand. Many lawyers avoid this for any number of excuses– whether it’s not having the right equipment, not wearing the right clothes that day, or simply just a fear of looking silly. A great piece of advice I was given as a very young lawyer by a well-known partner at my BigLaw firm was “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” In other words, the 10 posts that you actually make are better than the one hypothetically perfect post that you never get around to doing. And, in my experience, people tend to react well to authenticity and are far more forgiving of what you may perceive to be your shortcomings.
For example, I generally like to work late at night and refer to this time as my “second shift” at work. So, several times a week, I post to my firm’s social media accounts using the hashtag “secondshift” to give my clients and colleagues an insight into what is going on at my firm. All of these posts are shot on my iPhone from my office chair in generally casual clothes. Nevertheless, I have received dozens of messages from friends and clients about these posts and have received overwhelmingly positive feedback. In my case, I find that clients genuinely enjoy getting to know me through this medium and feel like they have an insight into who I am as a person. Whatever works for you, the key is to build a consistent habit of posting and connecting with your audience.
However you choose to use social media, I think that it is something we must all incorporate into our broader marketing efforts. Whether it is an active marketing medium backed up with significant advertising budgets, or simply regular posts highlighting what you are already doing, social media marketing is something that can and should be a part of every lawyer and law firm’s strategy for success in 2020 and beyond. If you do it right, it can even be #fun.
About the Author
Michael Redondo is the founder and managing partner of Redondo Law P.A. in Miami, Florida. He practices in the areas of personal injury, insurance claims, and business litigation. He can be reached through his website www.redondolawfirm.com, on Twitter @redondolaw, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.