Let's face it, most law firms don't have the kind of budget they'd need to hire someone to do social media full time. That means that when law firm social media marketing happens, it's usually done by someone who's wearing a lot of hats. If you're trying to do social media marketing as part of other job duties, you need to know the biggest mistakes to avoid. By avoiding these seven mistakes, you'll be putting your social media strategy on the right track and making sure that your law firm is ready for where social goes in the future.
#1: Not Enough Planning
Okay, so you have a Facebook profile. And a LinkedIn. Heck, you even still remember with a bit of fondness your college flirtation with MySpace. You're as qualified as anyone at your firm to run social media, so why not just dive in?
The answer is, because just diving in isn't what's called for when you're trying to plan social media for a law firm. You need to plan your social media strategy before beginning to implement it. Too often, when social media profiles are started by someone who hasn't planned enough, they won't give any consistent brand image. Instead, the social media profile tends to look something like the personal profile of the person who posted it, perhaps with a twist that makes it slightly more oriented toward your firm's practice area. Planning can make it easier to differentiate your business and personal voices so that you don't sound the same.
#2: Too Much Planning
At the same time, other firms find that they're unable to get their social media strategies off the ground because they're stuck perpetually in the planning and strategy phase. Social media moves fast—trying to plan for six months to a year and then implement a plan you started formulating a year ago is a bad move. Odds are, everyone else has already moved on.
Keep your planning oriented toward what's going on in social media now. By a year from now, the landscape may have changed significantly. Have a plan for the long term that involves the image you want to project, but don't make your plan so detailed that changing it becomes a stressful necessity every time the social media world adopts new ideas.
#3: Being the Same as Everyone Else
It's important to make sure that your firm's voice isn't just the generic law firm voice. There's too much competition both online and off today to sound identical to every law office in your town. Think about what it is that makes you different, not what makes you a typical lawyer or a typical law office.
Too many lawyers try hard to look professional, but they come off looking generic and dull. Being professional doesn't mean you're not allowed to have a personality. Personality is incredibly important for differentiating yourself, so let the charm and charisma of your staff show through! This may seem like a risk, but it's not: the bigger risk by far is being so much like everybody else that you can't get ahead, no matter how hard you try to promote your social media profiles.
#4: Ignoring Your Friends and Fans
When you post on Facebook or other social media sites, you may think that your responsibilities are done once your posts are made. This couldn't be further from the truth. Social media isn't just about talking, it's also about listening. One of the fastest ways to lose your fans and friends is to just ignore them, to show that you're only interested in posting marketing material and not in interacting with potential and past clients.
Instead, make sure that you're actually responding to comments thoughtfully. Make sure that the people who befriend you or become your fans get a short personal note from you. These small things can make a big difference in keeping friends and fans even through difficult times.
#5: Overposting and Underposting
Deciding how often to post is difficult for almost everyone working in social media. Overposting is a huge mistake in today's social media world, because it's very easy for people to stop following you at a moment's notice. When someone talks about themselves incessantly, do you want to keep listening? Probably not—and neither will your social network connections.
Underposting is just as bad. When people see too few posts, they often start to assume that a business has fallen onto hard times or may no longer even exist. It's critical that you don't abandon your social media profiles, because this can give the wrong impression to people trying to do research on your firm before making a call.
#6: Failing to Examine Your Results
Once you've done social media marketing for a year or two, you may think you have a good handle on it—to the point where you're not even sure if you really need to do anything differently. However, analyzing your results is incredibly critical if you want to be able to continue improving. Without continuous improvement, you're likely to find your competition rapidly catching up to you—then going on straight past you.
Consider downloading some basic analytics tools to help you look at how people get to your website from social media channels and what they do when they get there. This can help you understand what parts of your social media strategy have been most and least effective, and what you should do more in the future.
#7: Wishful Thinking
When you decide that your social media strategy should work, it can be really hard to let go if you're not seeing results. Wishful thinking—wanting a strategy to work so badly that your confirmation bias starts telling you that it works just fine—is one of the biggest enemies of data-driven marketing.
Take yourself and your ego out of the equation. If one strategy isn't successful, it's not a mark against you. It's an opportunity to try something different.