As a lawyer, you have no doubt seen the influx of law practices using social media marketing to grow their business. Maybe you have a Facebook account to keep in touch with your family and friends. If you are “with the times” then maybe you already have a Twitter profile and are tweeting regularly. Then there’s the professional social network LinkedIn that many of your colleagues have probably set up profiles on to gain an edge by networking with its 135 million+ registered professionals.
Up until as late as 2009, the general consensus among lawyers in regards to social media has been “that’s not where we get our clients.” After realizing social media is not a fad, many savvy lawyers became quick to embrace it and have now emerged online to enrich their networks—attracting new clients, keeping their knowledge current, and getting in touch with peers, friends and family. This trend is expected to continue growing exponentially until everyone in the world is connected, similar to when email made its debut.
This article is going to show you how you can use social media marketing to help grow your law practice, how to make your social media strategy effective, and how other leading lawyers use social media successfully to stay relevant.
How Lawyers Can Benefit From Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing gives you 3 advantages that traditional legal marketing methods can’t supply:
- Social media is less expensive than traditional legal marketing. Setting up a profile on social networks is free but investing time and money in creating a distinct and consistent professional online presence is crucial.
- You can reach the right people with your message faster. No more waiting for traditional ads to be printed and praying that your target market will actually read them.
- Identifying ideal clients is easy. You can easily hone in on your ideal clients through online searches to eliminate wasted efforts on the wrong audience.
The power to engage in conversations that are already happening in your industry, what people think about you and your competitors…is now available at your fingertips.
You can monitor people’s perception of your law practice (and your competitors) very easily with services like Twitter, by doing a keyword or hashtag search. This will show you topic-related conversations as they happen.
You can quickly pinpoint the people with influence (using the same search functions) in the social media communities you join. Follow them, befriend them, and build online relationships with them. Once you’ve established rapport, they can promote you and your practice to their many followers—bringing in more referrals and prospects to your law practice.
You too can become influential in your local community as people continue to recognize your legal expertise. Using social media can be very effective in enhancing your reputation and becoming recognized as a leading expert in your field. With higher credibility and social proof to back it up, you will position yourself for success and attract many new clients. Then there’s all the other spin off benefits such as the potential for media interviews, speaking opportunities, expert consulting requests from various organizations and even the opportunity to become a published author.
3 Important Steps To Create A Social Media Marketing Strategy For Your Law Practice
For an effective legal marketing strategy, focus on each of the 3 “There’s” of social media:
1. Where to tell your story—e.g. blog or webpage. If your goal is to increase your followers by writing valuable content then you will want to have your own blog. It is one of the best ways to position yourself as an expert in your niche. If you don’t like writing you can have someone interview you and transcribe it into blog posts or even hire a professional writer. Blogging allows you to showcase your expertise in a forum where people can see that you are a real person with a real passion and a producer of genuine, quality content. Having great content will drive readers to visit your blog again and again, so who do you think they will be thinking about when they need the services that you offer? That’s right, it will be you. You will have gained credibility and top of mind awareness.
- Who is your target market and where do they hang out?
- Will you be using it strictly for business or will you want to stay in contact with friends and family also?
It’s usually a good idea to keep your personal and professional profiles separate however there is nothing wrong with showing your personality on your business profiles, in fact I encourage it. The next factor really comes down to which of the social networks you personally prefer. For example I really love LinkedIn and because of that, I tend to spend more of my time on that social network. To grow your communities put links to your blog or website on your social networking platforms, and visa versa. Always encourage readers to ask questions and be sure to respond to each of them. It is important that you constantly keep them engaged, especially if your goal is to establish yourself as a leader and be seen as credible and trustworthy in the online domain.
3. Where to spread your message—e.g. Facebook, Twitter and similar sites. Facebook has a built-in announcement system via status updates. Twitter is essentially a 140-character version of Facebook’s status updates and fantastic source of traffic for your blog or website. If your objective is to have as many followers as possible, then your best bet is Twitter. Be helpful, answer questions, follow people that are interesting to you and who appear to be potentially good prospects for referrals. If you wish to build relationships with your existing clients so they can refer people your way, doing things like following them on Twitter, friending them on Facebook or connecting with them on LinkedIn can be an incredibly valuable resource.
A good marketing strategy will complement your social media campaign with traditional/offline marketing mediums—don’t forget the simple things like including the URL of your blog, Facebook or LinkedIn profile on your business cards. Contact can easily be maintained with those you network with at events by using social media, so don’t miss the opportunity to foster those valuable relationships. When it comes time to promote your own online or offline events, you’ll already have a database to draw an audience from.
How Other Lawyers Make Social Media Work For Them
It seems a few social media-savvy lawyers gave similar advice when it came to using social media to grow your practice: Start off slow but don’t delay. You don’t need to worry about having every network built up at the same time. Pick one you enjoy, see if you get any feedback from the posts you start with. By getting a feel for one system, you’ll develop the skill to move on.
Here are some lawyers that made social media work for them:
The principal at tomfoxlaw.com, Thomas was trying to develop a solo practice specializing on the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) prohibiting bribery and corruption by U.S. companies overseas. He said he wasn’t getting any traction from the traditional ways of personal networking, publishing articles, and giving speeches.
He began working with a social media coach and began tweeting, participating in LinkedIn group discussions, engaging people on Facebook and doing a lot of blogging. Most importantly, he stuck with it.
His goal, to be a leading authority on the FCPA, was realized when he became one of the Top 15 “Must Follows” on Securities Law (FCPA) by Compliance week. Fox had a paper circulated on Capitol Hill after being retained by LexisNexis, a company providing computer-assisted legal research services, to write a series on the FCPA. Using social media, he has managed to position himself to expert-level status that has the Wall Street journal quoting and interviewing him. He has recently been hired to develop and conduct a series of FCPA speeches nationwide, in addition to becoming an FCPA consultant for a major U.S. corporation.
Best known for her blog Employment and Human Rights in Canada, Lisa started her blog in 2009, with the goal of engaging in conversation related to workplace law developments and keep updated on changes in employment and human rights law. Her blog served as an opportunity to learn about cyber law in the workplace to better advise her clients faced with the same issue—especially ones on the use and misuse of social media in the workplace.
Her blog also allowed her to offer a female voice and unique perspectives on issues in the labor and employment law world. This resulted in getting agency-appointed client referrals, speaking engagements and an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation talk show Currents…doorways of opportunity she would have never been presented if not for her blogging.
Lisa advises would-be law bloggers to take advantage of learning opportunities from those more experienced on blogging and common interests—in other words, follow and build relationships with like-minded people who are influential in their respective fields. She also advises law bloggers to “read more than you write and listen more than you talk.”
Lisa says she has used Twitter extensively to get information out there and to show her particular expertise in a way marketing dollars could never do.
A partner and co-chair of DLA Piper’s global life sciences sector, Lisa also uses Twitter to gather current news in her industry and other areas. Her efforts paid off when San Diego News Network contacted her to post a weekly biotech blog on their website after one of the editors began following her on Twitter. She was also given several referrals by followers, some to venture capital firms needing intellectual property and technical due diligence for new investment opportunities and some were start-ups needing intellectual property counseling. An intern also contacted her with the General Counsel of a large public life sciences company, after being referred by a mutual Twitter ‘friend.’
Social media, if done properly can be instrumental in growing your law practice
The common denominator in all of the featured success stories is centered on engaging audiences that are talking about your industry and topic of expertise but also sustaining interest from that audience by providing great content. The success of a lawyer greatly depends on their ability to communicate with their clients and social media gives you the best leg up when creating a great first impression with prospective clients. Although it requires a lot of work, the rewards will continue to pay dividends for years to come. Social media is still very much in its infancy, which leaves a massive opportunity for those who adopt and master it before their competition does.
There is no shortcut to social media marketing success for lawyers but Brian Solis puts it into perspective best when he says, “Don’t compete for the moment. Compete for the future!”