By Peter Boyd, a Florida attorney who founded PaperStreet. He has helped over 1,500 law firms with their websites, content and marketing.
Social media can provide meaningful opportunities for law firms to stay top of mind with clients and connect with potential clients. However, social media can also waste firm resources and even do more harm than good when it comes to marketing.
Many lawyers are not sure how to start to enjoy the benefits without the wasteful or damaging drawbacks. Here are five tips to get started.
Use The Platform Your Clients Use
People are generally only active on one or two social media platforms at most. It makes sense for law firms to take the same approach. Your first step, then, is to find the platform your clients and potential clients interact with most.
If you develop a million devoted followers who will never be interested in the services you provide, then your social media efforts are not the success they might appear on the surface. For instance, firms that practice estate planning would generally be far better off with 100 followers on a site that’s popular with 50-year-olds than with 100,000 followers on a site popular with 15-year-olds. You want to invest your energies in the social media platform where your target audience hangs out regularly.
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Remember That Social Media Requires Social Engagement
The atmosphere on social media is similar to a big party, but many businesses treat it like a highway. People spending time on Facebook or Twitter don’t want to read ads thrown at them like billboards. They are there to engage with others. Although they will start looking at a feed to see what their friends are up to, they often do not mind seeing information or opportunities posted by businesses as long as they’re relevant and presented as part of a relationship.
Once you’ve chosen a platform, it is a good idea to spend time reading posts on that platform to see how individuals and businesses interact. When you post information such as a link to a blog about questions clients commonly ask or news about a development in your area of law, be prepared to go back to your post and follow up if anyone posts a comment or question. You are on social media to engage in conversation, not just to put up ads. Of course, the conversation is intended to serve the same purpose as an ad, but your approach makes all the difference in the appeal your posts will have for clients.
Don’t Hog The Spotlight
Remember the party analogy? You don’t come to a party to watch one guest perform or talk everyone’s ear off. Don’t keep repeating the same information in your posts, and try to share information about something other than your firm. It’s great to spread the news if your firm has won an award, and it can be appealing to post videos of your receptionist’s cat.
But you can show that you are looking out for your client’s interests by posting information they might find helpful when it has nothing to do with your firm whatsoever. Post a link to new hours at the courthouse. Share a post with tips for creating new holiday traditions after a divorce.
Remember That A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words
That may not be the case in a legal brief, of course, but on social media, an entertaining or intriguing graphic image is what gets people to stop and read what you have to say. Videos can be particularly effective—if they have good, balanced visual appeal. Invest some effort into finding a quality image to go with every social media post. You can buy rights to use certain images or develop some stock images to keep on file.
Be Willing To Experiment
The legal world requires precision and accuracy. Work prepared for clients must be done right the first time to protect their interests. This leads to a mindset that is adverse to experimentation.
Unfortunately, experimentation is how the marketing world operates. The only way to know what works is to try something and gauge the results. It’s the exact opposite of law in many respects.
Try two or three versions of the same post and see which one gets the most interaction. Social media platforms provide metrics you can use to see who has liked a post and who has clicked through to read more information. That can give you an idea of what approaches are working and which ones need adjustment. And remember that things change quickly in the world of social media, so a method that works well now will need to be continually reevaluated and probably changed before too long.
You Can Do This
Law firms can and do spend tremendous amounts of money on social media ads, and they may invest substantial time and energy in creating posts. But you can get started experimenting for free. If you find some issues and images that strike a chord with your target audience and you want to expand your reach to that audience, then you might want to consult a marketing expert who can help target your ads to get the most from your ad budget. But there’s nothing preventing you from picking a platform, showing up for the party and getting to know the people and their needs. You can do this.