Starting Your Social Media Journey: A Guide For Lawyers
More and more law firms are turning their eye to social media as a way of marketing their law firms. If you think that social media will take up a lot of your time and be perhaps too frivolous; think again.
There are a number of reasons why law firms use social media. Perhaps you are wanting to get your law firm’s name out there into the social media sphere and to give it some brand awareness. You perhaps may be wanting to use social media to drive more traffic to your website. I think for most firms, it offers a way to potentially secure new clients. I think if we look at the stats, you will get an idea why so many businesses are turning their attention to social media.
“There are now 3.484 billion active social media users around the world. This number represents 45% of the world’s population and an increase of 280 million since January 2018. This growth rate is likely to continue in 2019…
…In the UK specifically, there are now 45 million social media users. This equates to 67% of the entire population. Of these, 39 million are mobile social media users” .
Social media can offer you new ways of developing your practice’s brand and find a new audience for it. Also using social media does give you an ability to engage with potential clients. It also gives new ways to communicate. In this technological age, communication by varying means is important to staying relevant. How we communicated five or ten years ago, is very different to how we wish to communicate today. Embracing social media is one way to embrace new methods of communicating with clients.
The problem for any law firm starting their social media journey today, is that there is already a lot of competition on social media already. However, on a more positive note, not every law firm gets social media right.
Before commencing your social media journey, it is important to know what people think about your law firm. So just doing that initial research at the very beginning is extremely useful. If you have been in the industry a long time, you may well have a good idea of what people think about your firm. It is always a good idea to check that out on the internet and find out if people have been commenting, and what they actually think of your practice.
It is very easy to do a simple internet search (or to check on Facebook or Twitter) and see what people are already saying. If you find no references, then you have got a clean sheet to work from.
If you do find references, then what are people saying about your law firm? Is that positive or negative? If it is negative, you really need to mitigate that negativity before you start your social media journey.
If it is positive, does it match with how the firm wants to be perceived?
I think therefore that it is very important when it comes to marketing your law firm that you have that brand awareness before commencing your journey.
Which Social Media Platforms Are Right For Your Firm?
The next step is to figure out which social media networks are right for your law firm.
To be a success on social media, you need to find out where your audience lies, in order to engage with them; so you have to get your platforms right. There are so many different types of social media network sites available today. The main ones are, of course, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
I think for most law firms, Twitter and Facebook are probably the most popular. Instagram, of course, is a photo sharing social media platform which might not be right for your law firm but is very popular with millennials, whereas Facebook has a different 30 to 40 year old demographic. LinkedIn is more aimed at professionals and business people, which might be great for networking for your lawyers. It also might be great for recruitment purposes. It could also be useful if a potential new client wants to check what experience a fee-earner has in the industry. However, for obtaining new potential clients and engaging with them, it will depend on what your law firm does, as to whether that is the right fit.
Using Twitter and Instagram can all help to show the “human” side of your law firm, which can obviously help build trust.
Facebook, of course, also allows for customers/clients to add reviews, which also builds confidence and trust in your firm and brand.
You will also need to think about what marketing collateral your law firm has. As well as what content you aim to produce, as that may inform which social networking platforms to choose. If you are going to do photo content or infographics, of course, you could use Instagram. If you are going to produce video content, you could think about YouTube or Vimeo.
So, you have got two things you need to think about.
Firstly, what type of content you are going to produce?
Secondly, what is right for your law firm to capture and engage the audience that you want? So consider those questions, when thinking about which social media platforms you wish to use for your law firm.
Develop A Content Strategy
Once you have figured out which social media networks are right for your law firm, the next thing you will need to do is think about what marketing collateral you possess and what content you are going to create.
Content is, at the end of the day, at the heart and social media marketing, and the content that you create needs to keep your followers reading, engaging and interacting with your law firm.
If you already have marketing collateral (or say, articles you have already published elsewhere) think about reviewing that material as a starting point. It might be that some of this can be used on social media in its original form (or by tweaking) or partially rewriting it.
Then you need to develop a content strategy. That may include what you are going to write for blog posts and who is going to do this in your law firm. Are you going to use infographics? Are you going to produce educational and marketing videos, podcasts or do webinars?
I think the next step is to translate your content creation strategy into a scheduled plan using an editorial calendar. This could include your goals for your social media channels, how often you will be posting, at what times of the day and the type of content to be shared. I would suggest also dealing with direct messaging and what metrics you are going to analyse.
We have prepared an infographic to show the best days of the week and times to post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to help you in your planning process.
Planning ahead will help organise your promotional schedule across multiple networks. Tracking audience engagement will also give you an idea of the best days (and times) to post for your audience (which may differ from our infographic).
Before creating your social media profiles, it is a great idea to have some creative content and marketing collateral prepared in advance. This will allow time for the creation of new content going forward, as per your schedule.
Do not forget to take the time to review at this stage, which social media channels are needed, following on from developing your content strategy and schedule.
Create Your Social Media Accounts and Profiles
Once you have your content creation strategy, schedule and some pre-prepared content, you are now in a position to create your profiles on your selected social platforms.
When marketing any brand, no matter whether it is a product or a service, it is important that all those pages look and feel like they belong to the same brand. You need to make sure that the information on one social media platform matches what you put on another, so that they are identical across all social media networks.
Share Content Using An 80/20 Rule
Once you are set up on social media, the next job is to share your content. When sharing content stick to the 80/20 rule. 80% of your content should be about things your audience would find informative, interesting and useful. This is because you will not build a following if you talk about what services you are selling all the time.
You can share informative articles or retweet posts shared by influential law firms. Think of sharing educational content or providing opinions about legal issues, if you wish to position your firm as a thought leader. Other ideas include checking out the news regularly, as well as trending topics and adding your own spin to them. Why not talk about your law firm’s journey. Have you won a recent case? Have you won an award? Is the firm involved in a charitable cause? If so, talk about it! You could also highlight your solicitors and those behind the scenes. Has someone in the office done some work for a charitable cause? Never forget to come across with a “human” element.
20% of your content can be about selling your services and focusing on your firm’s speciality or specialities.
Social media is all about engagement. So you need to post original content regularly and reply to enquiries in a timely manner, if you wish to increase your social media followers, as well as engagement.
Now Your Social Media Journey Begins
So what should you keep an eye on when starting your social media journey?
Firstly, you should ensure that you engage and interact with those who have chosen to follow your firm and those with whom you have chosen to follow. When you get new followers engage and interact with them.
If you receive a direct message from a potential client, they will expect the similar level of customer service as they would from traditional routes. So stay on top of your comments, questions, feedback and shares on all platforms when you are active. Aim to answer these as soon as possible but preferably no later than 24 hours (or within your firm’s own Service Level Agreement or agreed in your schedule).
Secondly, you will need to do some monitoring:
Monitor Engagement With Your Original Content
Regularly monitoring your audience’s engagement with your original content, will inform what content is being enjoyed and what is not. That then allows you to change strategies as you move through your journey.
Monitor What People Think of Your Law firm
Monitoring what people say of your firm throughout your journey is important. If you get positive feedback use it for your benefit. I also think it is nice to thank clients when they praise your law firm or staff. If you get negative comments, respond to those comments in a timely manner, and address the issue at hand.
Monitor Your Competition
By monitoring your competition, (who are at the end of the day wanting to build similar engagements and interactions), it will allow your firm to see how they are tackling the same problem.
I would suggest making a list of your top five competitors and keeping an eye on what your competitors are publishing. Look at the frequency of their posts and the influencers they are engaging with. What marketing material are they using? What campaigns are they running?
Monitor Your Schedule
Regularly monitoring your social media engagement will give you insights as to when people actively engage with your law firm. Remember that for most firms this can be over time, somewhat of a learning curve. However, I would say never stop experimenting. Definitely do not be afraid to post on social media at less popular times.
So What Pitfalls Do I Need To Avoid?
Dormant social media accounts and a failure to engage will mean that you will lose impact extremely quickly. So bear this in mind.
If you are wishing to reach clients you need to share content that they will find interesting but more importantly, in a language they can understand. Think of using plain English and cutting back on Legal-ease.
Making Social Media Work For You
Here are our top tips to make social media “work for you”:
- Control your social media presence and focus on the networks where you can build a presence.
- Be realistic about the amount of time you wish to invest on social media; and monitor your schedule regularly.
- Limit self promotion of your law firm. Remember the 80/20 rule.
- Share content that will interest your audience and monitor your audience’s engagement with your original content.
- Actively engage your followers and reply to direct messages as quickly as possible.
- Tie you social media activity in to your existing marketing mix.
- Monitor your competition, as this will provide useful insights for you to learn from.
- Monitor your short term and long terms goals for social media, and be prepared to revise these going forward.
- Encourage staff to like and share posts to their own social medial channels.
- Regularly review your social media profiles to ensure that important information is kept up to date.
How OutSec Can Help You On Your Social Media Journey
If you are producing webinars, educational videos and podcasts, you will need to consider having these transcribed. This is to increase its search engine optimisation (SEO), so that the content can be found by search engines, such as Google and Bing etc.
By having a transcript of your webinars or podcasts, it offers you more content, which thereby gives you more sharing opportunities. It also helps with accessibility issues and therefore can bring your content to a wider audience. Having a transcript on your website, is also likely to boost your website’s SEO as well. So it is win, win, all round.
OutSec can also transcribe content strategies and content schedules. We can also transcribe articles for use on social media or blog posts, meaning you have more time for business as usual.
Furthermore, if you are an OutSec Legal customer and use social media, please do let us know and we will be happy to share and like your posts to give them a wider audience. This is all part of the OutSec service. OutSec believes in helping you grow your law firm.
If you have enjoyed this article, please like and share this on your favourite social media platforms.
Please also check out our Legal Podcast:
Episode 2: “How to Start Your Social Media Journey and How to Get It Right”.
Our RSS feed for our Legal Podcast is available here.
OutSec’s Legal Division
OutSec’s Legal Division have specialist qualified transcriptionists (with over 10 years’ experience) to meet all your law firm’s needs. That is why OutSec are an industry leader in this sector. With OutSec there is no minimum spend. Accounts are free to open. There are no monthly fees or hidden charges. You are charged on a per minute basis (rounded up to the nearest minute). Why not open an account today and start increasing your firm’s chargeable hours. What do you have to lose?
For more details please visit our Legal Division’s webpage here. Alternatively, you can contact Mark Hope (the author) on 0208 123 3422 (direct dial) or 01366 348088 (via Head Office).
OutSec’s Media and Interviews Division
OutSec also have a dedicated Media and Interviews Division that can also transcribe your podcasts, webinars and educational video content. For further details please see the Media and Interview Division’s webpage here. You can also contact Tracey Pulfer on 01366 348088 who will be happy to answer any queries you may have.
 You can read the article, “The Lastest UK Social Media Statistics for 2019” by Alison Battisby here.
Further Recommended Reading
The Law Society have prepared a “Practice Note” on social media, which can be read here.