Social media. We use it every day, and some of our peers seem to live online. People are out there taking pictures of their lunch, or leaving politically-fueled rants on public forums, or wishing friends happy birthday. Getting involved in social media as a casual user is the easy part, since you basically just live your life and tell other people about it. When it comes to using social media for business, though, most attorneys haven’t got a clue.
The best way to realize positive results from your social media activity is to lay out a formal plan. As with any business plan, you’re going to have to answer a couple of questions first before choosing your next actions.
What Are My Objectives?
Legal counsel isn’t going to be sold via online transactions, so we can rule out purchasing as an goal for social media outreach. Look at social media’s purpose: to share information. Sharing can only be done in a community or network of some sort. The reason sharing works so well on social platforms is because they’re one giant network, and there are so many people receiving the messages from their friends. Therefore, one of the best ways you’ll see success on social media is not by shelling out free consultation offers, but by simply getting coverage.
What Should I Say?
Some social networks are hubs for games and cat videos, but sharing activities are also closely linked with the concept of altruism, or helping peers. This is evident in Facebook community pages, LinkedIn groups, and Reddit boards. Capitalize on users’ natural instincts by providing helpful insight. Sharing some anecdotal legal advice will probably be the easiest way to grab some coverage for your own firm or brand. It’s a great way to accomplish two things:
- Demonstrate that you’re an expert in your field, which will pre-emptively build trust with your prospects
- Broaden your reach by giving members of your own network material to “help” others with
Periodically asking for something in return is the only way that you’re going to generate activity. While your advice posts should usually have some small request, like “share this with someone who needs it,” you can occasionally switch it up and ask the reader to reach out to you to learn some more about the subject (you aren’t allowed to directly ask for business).
Alternatively, mention that your practice is listed on different ratings platforms. While directly asking for reviews is often against the terms of service, your clients may be able to connect the dots on their own. It’s best to ask only clients you’ve actually served to write these reviews to ensure accuracy. Yelp has an article describing some best practices on reviews; view it here to make sure you’re in compliance, but check each platform’s terms of service to avoid violations. Some other examples of platforms to consider for your practice are the “Write a Review” tool on your Facebook business page, and your office listing on Google Maps has a similar feature. This article from Groove explains the impact having positive reviews can have on your business listing, including the statistic that 70% of online customers rely on reviews to make buying decisions. Since Avvo is basically Yelp for lawyers, it would helpful to get reviews on that site, as well.
Who Am I Trying to Reach?
Demonstrating expertise and reaching more people are beneficial, but in different ways depending on the audience. Expertise will be an important aspect of developing professional partnerships and generating a referral system. For example, a post describing how to overcome an obstacle related to elder law may be attractive to a financial planner who works with a lot of customers that fit your client profile. It’s probably a good idea to make that connection. Consider LinkedIn as a the most appropriate place to form these professional connections, as long as you avoid some common mistakes.
On the other hand, your helpful post may get picked up by an acquaintance in your network that has a family member or close friend facing the issue you described. Considering the statistic from Nielsen that 84% of consumers will make a purchase decision based on whether it’s been recommended by someone they know, every share action is like an arrow pointing to a new potential client. In other words, even though you don’t have a consultation on the books outright, you at least have a better idea of who might like to have one. You get full visibility into sharing activities on Facebook, which makes that platform a good environment to reach out to potential clients.
How Do I Know I’m Successful?
There are a lot of resources available online to help you organize the results of your social media activity for simpler, at-a-glance analysis of whether it’s working or not. This article from Smartsheet has a few downloadable templates available for you to start with, and you can also get the LinkedIn Network Expander checklist from Practice Alchemy that lays out the process specifically for attorneys. Ultimately, you’re going to want to keep track of a particular individual, deliver content that you think will be helpful to them, and then monitor their activities in relation to yours. Are they sharing anything? Participating in conversations via comments? Likes aren’t too valuable, but at least serve as an indication that you’re offering up the right type of content.
Get Started with the Right Messages
A crucial component of whether you’re going to get through to the members of your social network is the actual messaging you’re sending out. Get to the point, and show that you know how to solve problems for your clients. The goal with every post is to indicate that you are the authority that they (prospect or potential partner) can rely on to have a solution. If you need some help with positioning your firm for authority, you can download a free resource on the subject by clicking here.
Looking for a long-form breakdown of the state of law firm marketing and how firms are catching up? Check out our compiled guide to law firm marketing.