In today's United States, over 80 percent of internet users are now using some kind of social media. With most prospective clients using the internet to find the right law firm, social media can be viewed as one of the most important aspects of your customer service policy. It guides, to a large extent, how people will share the experience of your firm when they discuss it with friends, colleagues, or loved ones. It's often your first point of contact with new potential clients. And—much like with customer service—if you're not careful, it can cause problems for your firm.
Goals of Social Media for Forward-Thinking Lawyers
There's a tendency, when law firm marketers write about how law firms can use social media, to act like social media is completely revolutionary. Nothing could be further from the truth. While social media has certainly given people new ways to interact, in many ways, social media is simply a technological outgrowth of what used to be the public sphere. Instead of gathering in public to share information and knowledge, people now gather online.
This means that you need to think of your social media campaigns as a way to communicate and get out your message to new audiences. It's not just a game to be played for “likes,” friends, and comments. Instead, social media is the best and easiest way to make your voice heard above the din of your competition.
Forward-thinking attorneys know that the success of their social media campaigns depends largely on authenticity. Sounding inauthentic while writing social media content is one of the fastest ways to alienate connections and lose your online influence. You should always strive for a voice that reflects, in some way, the real personality of your law firm.
Social Media is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
When some law firms start using social media, they think that tossing out a quick profile or two and updating their listings on Google Local will give them everything they need. Nothing could be further from the truth. While it's true that there are some things you should always do to give yourself a good start in social media, the majority of your results from these channels will come from using them consistently and thoughtfully over a long period of time.
This means that you don't need to try to build Rome in a day. While you shouldn't make your Facebook page go live until it's ready, remember that you don't need to post all of your good ideas at once. Pace yourself and space out your audience engagement opportunities—this will make it more easy for people to interact and less likely that your pages will be regarded as potential spam by readers.
You don't have to hover on your social media pages, either. While it's good to monitor the conversations that are being had on your pages, sometimes it's a better idea to let those conversations evolve naturally, instead of trying to steer them or respond to every comment. Over-responsiveness can sometimes seem almost oppressive to clients—you want to give the impression of good customer service, not a stalker.
Understanding Your Social Influence
One of the hardest things for some marketing gurus to understand about social media is that it's not always easy to compute whether you're getting worse or better at the social media game. One way that you can tell, of course, involves asking people in client surveys how they heard about your firm. However, this kind of survey won't detect if, for instance, people's attitudes about your firm were already more favorable because of an infographic that you posted through social media channels, or a case you won in which the news story went viral.
Integrating Social Media Platforms
You may think that when you start using social media for your law firm, you should pick one main social media platform and stick with it. While it's usually a good idea to learn just one new social media website at a time, don't be afraid to use several different social media sites in order to help you build your web presence. For example, you may want to post a link from your blog on Reddit or another social content aggregator.
Make sure that when you're integrating social media platforms for your law firm, you're not just parroting the exact same information on every medium. Your medium should dictate the message to some extent. For example, while some headlines are designed for the character limit allowed on Twitter, you wouldn't want to simply have a blog that copied all your tweets. Let community norms dictate how you write for your audience on each of the social media websites your law firm chooses to use in your marketing efforts.
When you post to social media platforms, make sure you're not just posting what you want to see, but what your potential clients want to see. Even if you think a topic is very basic, if it's a topic you hear a lot of questions about from new clients, it may be worth discussing in a long Facebook post or blog update.
Monitoring Social Media Trends and New Opportunities
One of the only constants in the social media landscape is that it's constantly changing. The social media platforms that are biggest in 2013 could be completely dead by 2020, or going stronger than ever. In order to keep from spending your marketing dollars on dying, off-trend websites, make sure that you're keeping an eye on legal marketing blogs and pages about social media. Make your decisions based on up to date information, keeping in mind that even a year can be a long time when it comes to following internet trends.
When you do find a new trend, make sure you analyze it to make sure it has relevance to your firm specifically, not marketing or law firm marketing more generally. Not every idea will be a good fit, and you can save time and money by directing your energy toward the platforms that work best for your firm's focus areas.