Some lawyers and law firms dismiss social media in terms of marketing, but it can be a difference maker if you know where to be online and what to do once you get there.
Regardless of which outlet you use, the only way to get results is being committed to providing useful content and engaging with others. The results are worth it for those who do it right.
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Identify Your Social Media Audience
Once you’ve embraced the notion of devoting some thought and effort to social media marketing, it’s time to determine where the people you want to reach can be found online.
For example, if you’re a mergers and acquisitions attorney, LinkedIn is probably your best marketing opportunity based on its business roots, but that doesn’t mean your friends on Facebook shouldn’t know what you do as well. The key is how you present yourself to these two very different audiences (more on that below).
After identifying the best audience, it is important to update your social media profile to make sure all the content is current and correct. The last thing you want is a potential client trying to reach you at an old phone number listed on your profile.
Also, be sure to use an appropriate photo and/or logo that looks nice and conveys who you are. No one is going to read an estate lawyer’s post on how to structure a retirement plan if their profile picture looks like a mugshot.
Finally, spend some time on whatever outlet you’re considering and see if there are dedicated groups you can join as a member/commenter. LinkedIn and Facebook have seemingly countless individual groups dedicated to everything from the latest advances in tax law to resources for asbestos victims.
One often overlooked area on Facebook where lots of people regularly pose legal questions are in the dedicated groups devoted to certain geographic areas. Joining one or more groups that cover the neighborhood where you live and introducing yourself and what you do is a great way to get in front of an audience that might well refer business to you.
I’ve personally seen members of my neighborhood group recommend attorneys when fellow members have posted requests for information on specific legal issues. Being an active member of these groups in a no-brainer from a marketing perspective.
Nextdoor is another platform that allows neighbors to connect. Discussions range from “suspicious persons” and lost dogs to vendor recommendations and restaurant reviews. Make sure your Nextdoor profile includes your occupation and, when appropriate, include your lawyer expertise in a comment.
What Lawyers Should Say Online
After identifying where to get in front of your important audiences, updating your profile, and joining groups visited by potential clients, you need to know how to present yourself and what to say.
One lawyer I know says she views her social media interactions as if she were at a cocktail party where the lawyers and judges she knows are in attendance. So, just as she would do at a cocktail party, she talks a little bit about work and a little bit about her personal life, but she always keeps it “family friendly” and never says anything that would alienate a judge or a potential referral source. That mindset is what I recommend for any attorney who relies on social media as a marketing tool.
It is also crucial to adhere to any rules of professional conduct when it comes to communicating online, including requirements for how you describe your work and prohibitions against soliciting cases.
How you position yourself is determined by the content you provide on whatever social media outlet you’re using. While a post about how much fun you had at a restaurant on vacation might be appropriate for Facebook, it’s probably not what you want to be known for among fellow members of the LinkedIn group on insurance law that you just joined.
Attorneys should strive to make their social media posts something that readers will find useful. While it’s certainly acceptable to use social media to tout the fact that you have earned a professional honor, closed a big deal, or won a big case, most of what you say online should be directed at helping readers rather than promoting your practice.
If you use social media purely to crow about yourself, your online “friends” soon will begin ignoring whatever you’re saying, regardless of the significance.
Another bit of advice when wading into social media waters is to avoid political commentary. While you may think your state representative is a doofus, saying so on Facebook or LinkedIn is likely to cause more problems than benefits. If you need to vent about your doofus rep, limit your rants to those you know share your views and won’t be offended (private Facebook groups are great for this purpose).
Staying the Course on Social Media
Just as you’d look elsewhere if your favorite restaurant suddenly stopped serving your favorite meal, social media users will disappear if you don’t continue to provide them with a reason to read what you post.
The same holds true for consistency. If you’re engaging members of your audience only every few months, they’ll find someone else who more regularly provides the same type of information you do.
The key to social media marketing success is maintaining a consistent posting schedule that includes the type of information that people want and find useful.
Bruce Vincent is a writer and editor who has helped lawyers and law firms with social media strategies since before social media existed. He regularly helps clients develop and produce compelling online content that gets noticed. Contact Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more about how our team can help you stand out from the crowd.