Social media for lawyers should be a match made in heaven. Unfortunately – something went wrong in the match making department and we ended up as slightly tense acquaintances who know that they should like each other, but rarely do.
Social Media for Lawyers – What Went Wrong?
With a very brief therapy session we can identify with some ease what's gone wrong with the relationship between lawyers and social media:
- Lawyers Stopped Paying Attention – unfortunately, we let the relationship go without our love and attention for a bit long. Our marriage to our traditional marketing meant that we just didn't invest in social media the way we should have if we wanted to thrive.
- Social Media has Moved On – once we stopped paying attention, everyone else moved in. Marketers, entrepreneurs and other businesses have all taken away the share of attention that lawyers could have had – if we'd kept our eyes on the ball. As a result it's now a lot harder to capture back what we could have had.
- Social Media has Blossomed – what was once simply Facebook (or MySpace) is now Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube and much more. Our infant little platforms have grown up and become big and complicated. Getting to know them now, all at once, takes a lot more effort than it did when they were little.
And, much like what happened with email marketing, being the emotionally sensitive lawyers that we are – once the relationship got difficult, we put it in the too hard basket and focused on doing stuff we know… like law things.
Let's Forget we're Late to the Party, and Just be Glad we Made it at All
Hopefully if you're reading this article you're already bought in to the fact that social media has real possibilities to grow your practice.
As part of any web marketing strategy, lawyers need to incorporate some element of social media use.
The inevitable question that's going to come up after that is this: what the heck do I do?
First and Foremost
The first thing you need is a strategy (you're going to hear that a lot around here).
You actually need to decide what the point of your social media activity is. You need to decide what platform/s you will use, how you'll use them, and what you'll be doing there.
Many law firms “try things out” which is code for “I actually have no clue what I'm doing”.
Which is fine – heck, I do that too.
But I do it with a view to refining a strategy and implementing it. Others do it because they haven't committed to learning a platform, but just know they should do “something”.
Which Social Media Platform Should Lawyers Be On?
This is exactly the wrong question.
Sorry. I know it's one that people ask a lot, and I'd love to give you an answer. But there isn't an answer without addressing a few things before we get going.
Ultimately, social media is about engagement.
But not just engaging with anyone – engaging with the right people.
And that means you need to know a few things about your people and where they hang out before you can “choose” a platform.
Alternatively, you can just go all in and start using all the platforms, then refine and test to see where you're getting the most traction.
Who are your Clients and Prospects?
If social media is about engagement and relationship (which it is) then it's critical you know your audience.
That means you need to have a sharp focus on identifying your clients and your prospects before leaping into the foray.
Ordinarily you should look at defining your people in a few ways, but the big ticket items are:
- demographics – what are their objective characteristics (gender, geography, income, family situation, job and the like)
- psychographics – how are they feeling about their situation? what emotional response are they having, what are their concerns or desires, and how are those things relevant to you?
You probably want to go into more detail than usual on this. Write a few paragraphs as if you were your ideal client putting a profile on a “dating site” for lawyers. That will be a good start.
Which Social Media Platforms do Those People Hang Out On?
Once you know your prospective clients very well, only then can you accurately assess where they hang out and why.
Where do they hang out? Facebook? Instagram? LinkedIn? Pinterest?
Just as importantly, why are they there? Entertainment? Networking? Learning?
Understanding why they are there will give you a leg up when it comes to the type of content you should produce as well. If they are on YouTube for entertainment only, and you're doing infomercials – that's probably not going to get the same level of engagement as you might be hoping for.
If they're on LinkedIn for professional networking purposes and you aren't contributing to that goal in some way – then they might not engage with you or, worse, they might find you an annoying distraction.
That's not a deal breaker of course – you need to be prepared to repel some people in this process, or you're going to end up so generic that you simply won't make an impact at all.
Lawyers Need to Engage on Social Media
Finally, knowing who your clients are and where they hang out, you can finally answer the last question – how can you engage them effectively on the platform you have chosen?
A great photo on Instagram might be a poor performer on LinkedIn. A long technical article on LinkedIn might be utterly useless for Pinterest.
You get the point.
Native engagement on platforms is far more effective then just writing a blog post and sharing it everywhere with your inbuilt “spam” button.
Native engagement involves taking the power of the platform and using it to best advantage.
Beyond that, consider doing something different. Do you normally post just legal update articles? Mix it up with an image or two. What about just posting a thought now and then (yes – even brands can have thoughts!).
Don't lock yourself into one way of doing things – keep people on their toes and interested in what you might do next.
Lawyers Need to Master Their Chosen Social Media Platforms
You know your audience – they all hang out at X and they all love Y.
Now you need to master platform X.
You're a lawyer, so you're good at learning.
But there's no better way to master a platform then to DO IT.
Go all in on your platform and learn the tricks. Read everything you can. Try it all. See what works. See what you can replicate. See what's garbage.
But do it properly, consistently, and reliably – and you'll master the platform in no time.
Be Brave with New Things
The people who do things first are the ones who see the most traction.
As a profession, lawyers have missed the digital marketing boat time and time again, and as a result we're playing catch up (well – some of us aren't playing at all).
But the bold lawyers who are prepared to get their hands dirty trying out new ways of engaging their audience on social media, are the ones who are going to see the most results.
It's possible that you try out a “fad” and it fizzles. But who cares? Is it really better to see history repeat itself and find yourself 10 years behind the times, only just creating a Facebook page while telling everyone how progressive you are?
Try a new platform – don't dabble, invest. Invest the time to master the platform and use it to best advantage.
Are you a Lawyer that Wants to Master Social Media?
Social media isn't complicated. In fact, it's quite simple.
But that doesn't mean it's easy.
If you want help, get in touch with me for some consulting.
If you want to try a DIY approach, then start here.