Let’s talk about lawyers getting social. What does that mean, and how can it support your marketing? Social media is an umbrella term for programs that connect individuals through an online platform (such as Facebook or Linked In). Social marketing is more of an approach to connecting with your audience for their “social good,” not necessarily for financial reasons.
One of the biggest challenges faced by small law firms is how to get started in social media. Where do you start? Which platform should you focus on? What and when should you post? How do you get followers and fans? It can be overwhelming!
There is so much to think about and so much to distract you, because researching this is like going down a rabbit hole. Information and opinions are everywhere. It can also be a moving target – the best practices of last year are often today’s don'ts. But one thing remains consistent: It’s not going away. So let’s do something with it.
One of my favorite quotes sums the situation up perfectly: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Start where you are: Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting your practice or already have an existing client base, just start now where you are so it can begin to grow and evolve. Don’t worry about where it should be a year from now. Get started, because if you don’t, it can’t go anywhere.
Use what you have: You might not have a budget for social, or employees to support it, and you probably think you have no content. Remember, it’s social. So just showing your personality and your law firm brand, and sharing your moments, is enough. And, you have resources right there in your office, and you have opinions, so share them. That’s what’s valuable to your audience. I bet each person reading this has content sitting on their desk they could share and comment on.
Do what you can: If you can only post one time a day on one platform, start by blocking out the time in your calendar to make sure it gets done. Once you get the hang of Facebook, for instance, it won’t take as much time to add Twitter or LinkedIn after that. Don’t try to post three times a day if once is all you can commit to in the beginning.
Remember that quote: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
If you’re still stuck on why? The reason you should use social marketing is that it has become an integral part of our world and continues to evolve. The new theory with social marketing is that it is more than just a channel or tactic, it’s a strategy that should be present in your marketing plan. The question is no longer whether you should do social; it is, simply, why wouldn’t you do social?
Social marketing is really beyond your website and participating in social platforms. Statistics confirm that having a social presence (whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter) can boost your career and build your reputation. Prospective clients are Googling you and your name after hearing about you through word of mouth. And Google archives social pages! So 9 out of 10 times if you Google someone’s name, you’ll find a social profile on Facebook or LinkedIn along with their website - and it's typically the top result!
Think of social as lead nurturing, touching, top-of-mind awareness, further defining hot leads – or those that want to “think about it” to be sent to conversion at a later date. You are creating connections and showing up in their world.
How to Get Started:
It’s important to decide which social platform you want to start with and what your objective is. If the plan is to provide workshop information, Facebook is probably the best channel for that, and it’s a good place to start if that’s where you’re most comfortable. If you want to work your RMS, then the best platform would be LinkedIn.
If you already have your social going but it’s not active, then allot enough time to decide what you will post, create that content, and make at least one post two to three times a week. That will probably take you two hours if you include time to respond to conversations.
The content you want to contribute is valuable content or insight for prospective clients. Ask yourself, what’s in it for them? Why would they want to “like” your post? What do they get out of it? It’s not all about you!
Suggestions for Posts:
- Have a sense of humor
- Share pictures or photos of fun times within the firm
- Relevant information and insight on estate planning – think educate to motivate
- What do they want to know?
- Share the most common questions you get asked, and answer them
- Current events
Do’s & Dont's
- Focus on the people
- Experiment and have fun. It’s social!
- Answer any questions posted, tweeted, etc.
- Participate in conversations
- Discuss the passions of your audience
- Anchor to the 80/20 rule – only 20% about you and your offerings/selling props - 80% valuable content
- If you have published work – a book you authored – share the content
- Post photos of you at your workshop, or of you participating in community events
- Focus on making money
- Do the same thing over and over again
- Go dormant – ignore your audience
- Be afraid to connect with others who do what you do
- Don’t just talk about you and your practice
Best Times to Post:
Facebook – Best from 1-4 p.m.; peak time Wednesday at 3 p.m. Facebook is a good platform for engaging with your prospects, so you’ll want to run content relevant to them.
Twitter – Best from 1-3 p.m. or 5 p.m.; peak Monday through Thursday. Twitter is great for B2B. You’ll find a lot of other estate planning attorneys already on Twitter, along with marketing companies, power partners and other relevant connections.
Linked In – Best from 7-9 a.m. or 5-6 p.m.; peak between Tuesday and Thursday. LinkedIn is best for wholesale marketing. You’ll get a good array of referral sources.
Google+ – Best from 9-11 a.m.; peak during work hours. Google+ is good for SEO and authorship.
Do the best you can with tracking and reporting your social reach, but be aware that the reporting you get from the different platforms is all over the place. People don’t tend to always chime in or react when they see something they like. It’s like if you were to do something funny at a dinner party. People don’t come up to you and congratulate you, or pat you on the back after.
We all see things on social that we think are funny or interesting, but we don’t click “like” or “retweet” for every little piece of wonderful content we come across. So do not gauge your ROI on the likes, shares, etc., that you get.
I read an interesting anecdote on Lexblog that really illustrated the return you get. Dan Goldman, chair of Mayo Clinic’s business law practice group, was at a conference for legal marketing and business development professionals. When they began discussing the need to measure the return on investment on their social efforts, he chuckled a bit.
Goldman explained that Mayo’s 43 in-house lawyers taught him that people tend to hire the lawyers they know, like and trust. So the ones who got hired were the ones who use social media. Mayo’s in-house lawyers became known and trusted through their social efforts.
Goldman cited recent studies showing that lawyers who don’t use social media are becoming increasingly irrelevant to the people who would hire them, especially, as he put it, “when they’re just not connected.”
Here’s hoping the info above might help you avoid the same fate.
If you don’t nail all of this right out of the gate, don’t worry. It’s social; give yourself permission to just show up at the party and have fun!
Roslyn Drotar - Internet Marketing Strategist, Lawyers With Purpose