Over 90 percent of law firms are now using social media marketing of some type for 2013. When it comes to setting your social media goals, an obvious question arises: how do you know if you've been successful implementing your social media strategies? The question becomes even harder once you start going down the rabbit hole and using several social media platforms to achieve your marketing goals. In this guide, we'll explore why traditional metrics of marketing success no longer work for the new social media landscape, and how to develop your own understanding of how you're being perceived by social media viewers.
The Problem: Qualitative Data in a Quantitative World
The biggest issue that most law firms encounter when trying to understand their return on investment for social media is that in many ways, the effects of social media aren't easily quantifiable. You won't see, for instance, the same kind of obvious returns that you might see from a pay per click advertising campaign, where it's clear how many people request additional information or a consultation appointment.
The approach of some businesses has been to try to create quantitative metrics anyhow. This, however, is a case of shoving square pegs into round holes. The way to succeed with social media is to embrace its non-quantitative nature. You don't just need friends in large numbers—gaining ten friends with far reaching social influence could be much better than gaining a hundred who barely post to their social media feeds or tend to post a large quantity of irrelevant content.
If you're focusing on these kinds of metrics just because they're easy to quantify, you're missing the forest for the trees. The success of a social media campaign isn't in how many new followers it gives you, but in how much it raises your company's reputation. For instance, having a great response to someone's question could result in not gaining any new followers—but if that person tells several other people about their interaction, either on social media channels or in person, your law firm's reputation is enhanced.
Consider using as your main metric “number of meaningful social media interactions.” Look for interactions that go beyond just a simple answer to a question or a link to a website. Check out how many of your law firm's interactions with clients, colleagues, and others on social media are really responsive and worthwhile. By trying to grow this number, you'll come much closer to being able to capture the full potential of social media campaigns.
What Kind of Social Media Presence Do You Want?
Before you start actually working on your social media campaigns and strategy for the rest of 2013, you should consider what kind of personality you want your firm to project in social media. Some law firms are choosing to have a more casual social media presence that is understandable, heavy on vernacular and humor, and doesn't take itself too seriously in any way. Other law firms want to maintain an impeccably professional web presence in all areas, including on social media websites.
You can choose your own path, but make sure that you're actually making a choice. Don't think that you have to show your firm in one particular way just to be taken seriously. If you can use humor skillfully and gracefully, without insulting people you want on your side, you can have a very different kind of web presence. You don't need to look like everyone else—in fact, from a branding standpoint, it's always best if you can find your own authentic voice that's a bit different from anything your competition has to offer.
View Social Media as an Outgrowth of Customer Service
Much like delivering excellent customer service in your law firm's office, it probably will not generate immediately recognizable short term gains. However, just like a law firm with a bad customer service experience will likely suffer from a lack of repeat business and long-term clients, a law firm with a poor social media presence or a bad online reputation will slowly lose business to firms that are doing better in these areas.
Today, customer service can't stop when someone leaves the confines of your office. Consider your social media presence to be the part of your customer service experience that is always available and always responsive. It may be a good idea to assign people at your firm to monitor your social media channels during a wide range of hours—ideally 24 hours a day. This makes it so that you always know what's going on and are never surprised first thing in the morning by a discussion that has been raging out of control on your social media channels for hours.
Finding Testimonials in Social Media Comments and Posts
One of the ways that you can use your social media presence to enhance the rest of your online reputation is to use social media comments and posts as testimonials. Obviously, you should always talk to any person who has made a positive comment on your social media feed and obtain their express permission before using their testimonial on your website or blog. However, this kind of comment can carry a lot of weight, especially since people attach their social media profiles to their real world identities.
You may also want to ask clients whether they might give some kind of testimonial on your Facebook wall or elsewhere in the social media world. These testimonials can generate a lot of “likes” and other attention. Consider asking clients to do this at about the time when they collect their settlement check—it's the time when they're likely to be most happy with your services and most likely to offer an enthusiastic recommendation on social media.
Keep in mind that not all testimonials will be equally well regarded. A testimonial that appears overly enthusiastic or fake will often be completely disregarded by internet audiences, which can be fairly cynical. The best testimonials will seem authentic, not like they could have been written by a PR team.