As an attorney, you’re paid to be an excellent communicator—but are you as effective when it comes to social media marketing to your target audience?
When deciding how to promote your law firm, it can be easy to overlook the enormous power of social media. The prospect of continually sending tweets, likes, and shares can feel overly time-consuming at first glance, so it may seem easier to just sidestep social media—but this could be a big mistake for your business.
In this comprehensive guide to social media for law firms and lawyers, we’ve done the research for you. From a step-by-step guide on the use of social media, via an in-depth look at Facebook and other platforms, we’ll cover everything you need to know to succeed with social media marketing.
Let’s begin with a good question.
Why should lawyers embrace social media marketing?
In the digital age, there’s no getting around it: your competitors and colleagues use social media, if you want to stay current you need to get involved.
Social media gets you new clients
Social networking provides exposure to a large audience. As the ABA’s 2018 Survey reported, 35% of those surveyed who use social media channels for professional purposes have gained clients. The result is even better for small firms: with 42% gaining new clients through social media marketing.
Social media gives clients another way to find your law firm
Social media profiles can drive people to your law firm’s website—where potential clients can find the information they need to hire your firm. It’s a tactic that consumer brands have perfected.
For example, the path from seeing you on social media to hiring your firm might look like this:
- You share a blog post you wrote about how newly married couples should structure their wills on Facebook.
- Prospective clients see the Facebook post and click on the link to read it on your website, where you’ve added an online intake form using Clio Grow’s custom intake form tool.
- The potential client completes the online intake form and leaves their email address.
- The client then automatically appears in your Clio Lead Inbox.
Social media is a place to engage with the community
Lawyers can also use social media to build their profile within the legal community. By participating in social networks with other attorneys, you can stay up-to-date on what’s trending in your legal community, and even offer your own commentary to boost your thought leadership. Below are a few examples of groups to join on LinkedIn:
How to build a social media strategy
The value of social media for law firms is clear, but in order to get an adequate ROI, you need a plan. While your individual plan should be unique to you, your practice areas, and your audience, the following best practices can be used to get your social media on the right track.
Step 1: Know the rules
Make sure you know the rules and responsibilities lawyers have on social media in your jurisdiction before making an account for yourself or your law firm.
Check out the law society and bar rules for compliance responsibilities and ethics regulations, and be sure you know them before you post or share anything. Many states prohibit lawyers from using terms like ‘expert’ or ‘specialist’ to describe themselves.
Step 2: Identify your goals
What do you hope to gain from social media? Do you want more clients? Do you want to build brand awareness in the legal community? Or do you want more website visitors?
Make realistic and attainable short-term and long-term goals for your professional social media. Once you know what you’re looking for, you can use those goals to guide your social media marketing.
Step 3: Do your research
Check out what competitors are doing in your practice area and how they use social media differently: Identify what works for them, and what’s likely to be a dealbreaker for prospective clients.
If you want to know what other legal influencers are up to, follow them, share their content, and engage in their online communities.
Step 4: Start small
While it can be exciting to jump in and try out a bunch of social media platforms at once, you might be doing yourself a disservice.
By starting too many social accounts, you’re more likely to get overwhelmed and not be able to dedicate the proper time and attention to each of them—leading to potential ethics violations or abandoned social accounts, which does your firm more harm than good.
Step 5: Consider your content
Plan what type of content you’ll be posting to your social media accounts. Whether you want to develop new content to post as part of your marketing plan, share existing content, or your plan is to focus on engaging with people in comments – it’s a good idea to think about what your target audience expects as you plan your strategy.
Step 6: Set a schedule
Consider creating a content calendar and using social media tools like Hootsuite. By pre-planning when you’ll release your content, you remove the stress of trying to think of what to post in the moment. Additionally, this time for review before posting can also be helpful in reducing your risk of accidentally violating ethics rules or client confidentiality in a rush to post.
You’ll also be more consistent in your posting if you schedule it in advance—allowing you to maintain a social media presence, and increase engagement with your audience.
Step 7: Measure your results
As with any type of law firm marketing, it’s imperative that you track, measure, and evaluate the results of your social media efforts if you want to be effective. Law firms that fail to track which content is most effective are at risk of wasting their efforts and budget on the wrong materials.
Social networks to consider
With more and more social media channels to choose from, it’s worth knowing the basics and refreshing yourself on what’s new with each before you invest your time into maintaining a profile. Depending on factors like your practice area, target audience, and the type of content you’d like to post, some networks may be better suited to you or your firm than others. Facebook and LinkedIn have a different target audience, and you’ll rarely users share the same content across both social media platforms.
With 2.38-billion monthly active users, Facebook is the most popular social media platform in the world—and it’s also popular among legal professionals, with overall use of Facebook growing to 63% in 2018, according to the ABA’s 2018 Legal Technology Survey Report.
While the reach you can receive from Facebook is exponential, you need to be wary. Facebook’s algorithms prioritize friends-and-family posts in the News Feed mean that it’s more challenging for your posts to be seen and post visibility is on a relatively short timeline.
And, if your efforts on Facebook aren’t being seen by your target audience, they’re wasting your time.
LinkedIn remains the most popular social media platform among lawyers in the US, according to the ABA’s 2018 Report—with more law firms using LinkedIn than every other platform, even Facebook.
Why is LinkedIn the most popular form of social media for lawyers? Because It’s made for business. LinkedIn is designed to promote your professional persona and build connections with others in the legal industry, which can be useful for gaining referrals.
It’s important to ensure your LinkedIn profile is an effective reflection of you and your firm. A few tips for a better LinkedIn profile?
- Keep things professional. Use professional photos as your profile picture.
- Be compelling. Take time to write a clear headline, concise summary, and meaningful descriptions of your relevant law firm experiences. If you find it difficult to write about yourself, consider hiring a professional writer to help with your profile.
- Stay relevant. Curate your profile to showcase career highlights that are most relevant to your current practice, focus, and goals, so visitors to your page can easily learn about the attorney you are today.
In addition to using LinkedIn for you as a professional, you can also create a LinkedIn page for your law firm to enhance its persona online (this guide to law firm LinkedIn pages can help).
While Twitter is less common for law firms to use in a professional context it offers some unique benefits for busy legal professionals:
- It’s concise. As a microblogging social media platform, Twitter limits your tweets to a character count of 280—forcing you to stay succinct.
- It’s efficient. As a result, when scrolling your Twitter feed, you can consume highlights and headlines for a wide range of issues in a short period.
- It’s instantaneous. Twitter gives you near-instant updates on news and information you need to know.
If you’re just starting out on Twitter, be sure to follow influential people in your industry—both as a source of social media inspiration and as a way to stay engaged with people that share content about the issues that are important to you and your audience. Not sure where to begin? Check out this list of the top people in legal to follow on Twitter to get you started.
Though it’s a less common choice for lawyers and law firms, a YouTube channel gives you the opportunity to share video content with subscribers. Video makes it easy to showcase your personality to viewers, helping them feel like they “know you” before they’ve met you—which can make potential clients feel more comfortable.
However, before creating YouTube videos for your firm, ensure that:
- You’re able to make high-quality content. Your production, titles, video quality, and lighting should all look clean and professional.
- You have a strong on-camera presence. If you’re creating videos where you speak to the camera, you should be comfortable being on camera.
- You have something to say. Videos are a great opportunity to convey authority, but be sure your content is interesting (and that it follows ethics rules and guidelines).
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is image-and video-centered, this may make it a bad fit for your firm. For those in consumer-focused areas of law, like personal injury, it’s a great way to connect on an individual level. For larger firms focused on business clients, Instagram might be better suited to marketing yourself as a great place to work to attract top talent.
Many lawyers, Instagram is the platform to use in order to humanize yourself and your firm. Posting content related to your lifestyle, work in the community, and firm life can showcase a positive persona.
Things to remember when maintaining a professional Instagram page as a law firm?
- Make your content easy to find by using hashtags and location tagging when appropriate (For example, you can location tag yourself in your office.)
- Post high-quality photos that convey a polished, professional image.
- Be extra careful when posting not to violate any ethics guidelines, and never accidentally break confidentiality with your client’s information (For example, don’t post a behind-the-scenes image of your office where client documents are visible on your computer screen).
More than just a fun pastime, social media for lawyers can be a valuable digital marketing channel when it’s used strategically and you take the time to learn and adhere to ethics rules so you can stay compliant.
When building a law firm marketing strategy, effective social media management is crucial. Set goals, make a plan, and stick to it—by being consistent and active on social media, you’re more likely to engage with your target audience and increase your law firm’s business.
Also, it’s important to respect the nuances of each network by adapting how you use social media for each audience. Content that was well received on Facebook might not have the same success when reposted on Twitter or Instagram. Each network deserves its own strategies, otherwise, your social media marketing efforts won’t reach their maximum potential.
If you need help managing the social media accounts for your business, consider reaching out to an expert who can take a look at your firm and get started with building an effective social media presence.