5 simple tips on effectively using social media in your law practice.

effective social media for lawSocial media is nothing new. For most businesses, it forms an essential component of their marketing strategy. Social media can effectively define a brand, interact with audiences and consumers, and enhance market reputation.

Despite this, lawyers and law firms have shown great reluctance in adopting social media for a marketing strategy. Many see it as unprofessional, immature, narcissistic, or most often, a reputational liability they aren’t willing to assume. These views are misguided, archaic, and are adopted with considerable peril to the lawyer or firm’s marketing potential. Social media has grown up. It is no longer just kids taking selfies and posting updates on what is being eaten for brunch. It is as much for lawyers and law firms as it is for any other company and it is time the legal profession embraces this positive change.

There is a lot to be said on this topic, but here are 5 very simple, yet effective, tips to get lawyers and law firms set on a path to properly define themselves on social media in an effective, and responsible way.

Know your brand.

What is your law firm? What does it do? How do you want the public, clients, adversaries, and judiciary to perceive it? Is you law firm casual or formal? Is your practice area or expertise clearly defined in your profile and content?

For law firms, social media is not an experiment in personality expression. A social media account of a business, particularly of a law firm, must be as defined and professional as possible. This does not mean that it cannot be interesting, casual, or even humourous. However, whatever it is, it is your brand and it will define you for better or for worse.

Think of the efforts that go into the ethos of successful companies like Lulu Lemon, Budweiser, or TD Bank. All are very different, but all are identical in one way: the define their brand and personality clearly and without deviation. The same degree of dicipline and focus is necessary for effective branding of a law firm or law practice.

Every platform is different. Or, as we have often heard: “the medium is the message”.

All social media is not created equally. Twitter is not Instagram. Facebook is not LinkedIn. Snapchat is not any of these. Every social media platform has a very unique and different approach for a company.

Merely having an account on one platform makes a statement. Not having an account on another platform makes an equally bold statement about your brand. As a lawyer or law firm you must come to learn these differences and what it says about your practice to be active on one, and not another. Different platforms have different audiences, different uses, and different social graces in the way business approach them.

Think of social media platforms like clothing outfits. For one occasion you are wearing a suit (LinkedIn), on another it is business casual (Twitter), on another you are wearing yoga wear (Instagram), and then it’s time to hit the clubs (Snapchat), and so on. Bottom line, you need to figure out when its appropriate to wear a suit, and when its ok to put on your dancing outfit.

Use social media to engage with influencers to open new opportunities.

Put simply, some followers are more valuable than others. Accordingly, it’s not how many people follow you, but who.

If you had a professional event promoting your business, who would you want to attend? Who do you know would be able to effectivly advance your practice goals? Who are the people that have the ability to facilitate wider coverage on traditional media?

These are the same people that you want to actively engage and hopefully convince to follow you on social media.  These people are often referred to as “influencers” in the social media world. Your goal should be to actively seek out these people, engage with them in a way that proves to them that you are someone they should be watching or following.

Patience.

Social media rewards consistency combined with patience. A law firm or lawyer cannot approach social media hoping for immediate returns on their investment in time (and money for those that hire professionals). But for those that do, the rewards are considerable.

To be clear, no one follows a lawyer on social media because they are searching for a solution to their legal problem.

Rather, social media acts as an ongoing discussion with those that might come to need your assistance at a later date. It can serve as an effective means to build familiarity with you as an expert in a particular field of law with those that will come to need you at a later date. Family lawyers follow real estate lawyers, bankers follow corporate lawyers, actors may follow entertainment lawyers, and the list goes on.

In all of these instances, you are being followed because the content you are delivering is interesting to a particular pool of potential clients who come to know you over time. When the time comes for them to need a family lawyer to refer a client to, or a contract done for a business, they think of you. Social media can allow you to remove the step of the client searching for what they need – because you have already proven over time that you are their firm or lawyer.

Do or do not, there is no try.

Marketing on social media is not an experiment for a business. Everything a business does or doesn’t do on social media has a reputational effect – including neglect of social media accounts.

Having a stagnant, outdated, or half-assed account of social media will likely make you invisible (so why bother?). Yet it can have also have an effect that is far worse.

For many people, particularly younger generations who are now making up a formidable component of any market, you will be researched before contacted. Before picking up the phone to call a lawyer or law firm, many people will look at websites and social media to evaluate their potential representation.

The last thing you want, in an effort to get that potential call, is to have a social media account that is neglected, outdated, or improperly curated. Either be on social media, or delete it.  Leaving social media hanging is the marketing equivalent of walking out of a business conversation halfway through. If you can’t maintain it, hire a professional or delete it.

The author

Sean Robichaud
Sean RobichaudFollow him on social media here:
2016-10-24T11:59:10+00:00

About the Author:

Sean Robichaud is lead counsel and owner of Robichaud's.