More and more people are using social media every day, and lawyers should be no exception. After all, if the clients they’re hoping to connect with use social media, does it not make sense to reach out to them there?
But, buried under heavy caseloads and short on spare time, many lawyers may not know where to start when it comes to building their social media strategy.
That’s where Samantha Collier comes in. She’s a social media specialist and the founder of Social Media for Law Firms, a company that offers a range of social media setup, training, and management services for lawyers.
Below, Samantha shares a few tips to help lawyers get the most out of social media for lawyers.
Clio: Why is social media for lawyers so important?
Samantha: Potential clients are using social media to find legal representation. Many lawyers are hesitant to invest their time in social media because they are worried about not getting results. They think social media is something their kids use, but 62 percent of adults (globally) have a Facebook account, and the percentage is higher if you look at North America alone.
The average Facebook user has about 120 friends—and these are friends they trust. I see people asking for lawyers via status updates all the time, and people listen to these recommendations because they trust their friends. Beyond that, a wider range of people may see that public question and answer, so the lawyer’s name is seen by a wide range of people.
They may not get the client every time, but I can guarantee they won’t get clients from social media if they’re not using it.
Clio: How can lawyers get started with social media?
Samantha: Just start. Lawyers will only learn how to use social media by using social media. It takes “doing.” Learning how to use social media takes time, but the time is front-loaded, i.e., they will spend a lot more time on it in the first few months.
The average lawyer spends 1.7 hours per week (approximately) on social media. From listening to a podcast about Clio recently, I learned that Clio saves lawyers an average of 8 hours per week—lawyers should use 1.7 of those hours on social media.
Lawyers should start with one platform. They should create an account and see what other lawyers in their practice are doing. Don’t post right away—watch and listen. Look for their target clients online, see where they hang out. Get a feel for the conversation style. Learn the lingo.
Also, it’s a good idea to check out the law society and/or bar rules for compliance/ethic rules before getting started, but simply stated, the same rules apply for both traditional and online marketing.
Clio: What’s most important for lawyers to keep in mind when using social media?
Samantha: Lawyers need to remember the 80/20 rule when using social media. In other words, don’t promote yourself too much. People don’t want to hear about how great you are or how many cases you’ve won. You need to add value. You need to offer help or assistance, and you need to be part of the conversation.
Lawyers will get clients through social media by adding value. They do this by sharing content that people will find useful. That way, should the need come up for their services, the lawyer’s name will pop into the reader’s head. A lawyer should try to become the CNN of his or her practice area—that was something I heard Kevin O’Keefe say during a webinar in 2010 or 2011 and it stuck with me.
The social media crowd sniffs out fakers faster than anyone else. The lawyers who do well on social media (Mitch Jackson is a great example) provide a ton of value through live streaming shows, conducting interviews with prominent lawyers in their practice area, tweeting with people, and more.
They also aren’t afraid to share their personal stories, or to be themselves. They don’t have a separate business persona and personal persona—social media just becomes a daily part of their lives. It’s important to remember advertising rules, but I’ve never seen advertising rules stop a lawyer from showing their personality.
Clio: How do you help lawyers get the most out of social media?
Samantha: If an attorney retains me for social media services, I help them get the most out of social media by saving them time. My services allow lawyers to focus on billable hours rather than on social media.
I also help them keep up with social media changes. For example, Facebook might change the optimal image size for status updates. That means if a lawyer doesn’t update their image sizes, their posts could look unprofessional. I stay on top of all that so they don’t need to worry.
Most importantly, I help lawyers get clients from social media. I have a long history of getting work for my clients and improving their bottom line, as I know the ins and outs of each social media platform and how to talk to those looking for legal services.
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