By Linda Cheung
Are you a lawyer looking to use social media to promote your law firm?
Perhaps you work in law firm marketing and have been tasked with creating a social media marketing plan for your law firm.
This article explains some of the ways you can use social media marketing for law firms to grow your practice.
Despite a few high profile tweeting lawyers, social media had been largely ignored by lawyers until early 2012 when the Law Society issued social media guidance for lawyers. By June, Legal Futures was reporting that Twitter was becoming the key referral source for lawyers, with a 663% increase in people asking for recommendations on the social network.
Social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs provide a fast and cheap way to keep in touch with clients and prospects, keep an eye of competitors, and keep up-to-date with industry trends.
Many smart lawyers are now using social media to gain exposure for their law firms and gain advantage over their competitors. If you want to do the same, it's imperative that you start with a great looking website that has a consistent message and a branded image that can extend across your social media profiles too. Once you have configured your social media profiles, the number one strategy for delivering highly targeting traffic to your site is to create great content. The home base for all that content should be your law firm's blog, which should be hosted on your own domain.
The following 10 steps outline what you need to do to develop a social media marketing plan for your law firm.
The first step you should take is find out what conversations are already going on about your law firm or your lawyers in public, online. Head over to Google and do a search for your brand name. Next, see what bloggers are saying by doing the same search on the Google Blog Search. Finally go to Twitter and search for your brand name there. Each conversation or result that you find is an opportunity to influence. If no-one is mentioning your law firm, why not? You're probably not interesting or remarkable enough (we'll talk about how to fix that in Step 5).
We find that most law firms start out by assuming that the best social media platform for them is LinkedIn, but that's not necessarily the case. It's best to do some research first. Create a list of keywords that reflect your law firm's areas of business. Phrase them in the way your clients might talk about those topics. Next go through each of the major social networks and search for those terms.
Don't forget the niche social networks either. If you specialise in family law for instance, parents network MumsNet might be a good place to check out to get highly targeted traffic. If you're not sure what the niche networks are for your sector, feel free to get in touch.
Based on your research, now it's time to choose the social media platforms you are going to invest time in. Don't spread yourself too thinly. Start with one or two platforms to begin with. Take the time to plan the approach you are going to use. At this point it may be worth taking a look at what your competitors or market leaders in your sector are doing. If you can spot what types of activity is proving successful for them, you may be able to easily copy their approach. Another great idea is to take a look at what is working in similar fields and adapt the ideas to your industry
How will you know if you have been successful, or if the return has been worth the effort?
Make sure you set yourself some specific, measurable goals before you start. Your initial goals can be fairly modest. To begin with a valid goal may simply be learning - e.g. learning the platforms, better understanding your clients and their motivations, and learning what types of content works.
As you move forward you may want to set some goals around growing your audience of fans and followers. This should only be a short-term objective though. In the long term your social media goals should be directly tied directly to your business goals.
This sounds rather formal - but it needn't necessarily be. What you really need to define is what the constraints are on what you are allowed to say in public. Take a moment to think about it, and you'll find that mostly this is common sense.
Plan what you are going to talk about. Think why it might be interesting to your target audience. Think why they might want to share it. Effective use of social media means creating content that is provocative. That is, it provokes a reaction in the readers such that they want to share it with their friends or engage with you on the topic.
The worst thing you can do is sit on the fence. It's better to have a strong opinion and be prepared to defend it.
For social media to be effective you need to have a routine. Plan what effort you can commit to it and keep to it. Maybe it's just an hour a day. Schedule some time for that, plan the routine tasks that you will do - e.g. deleting spam, and responding to comments. Be sure to plan the time for creating new content.
One of the challenges of social media can be getting it to scale. The best solution we have found is to make it a little bit of everyone's job. Encourage everyone to get online and do their bit. Encourage your fellow lawyers to connect with clients and prospects, and ask them to re-tweet and re-post your good news stories to their followers.
With your team up and running on social media, start to build social media marketing into your real-world events. When you host an event, encourage attendees to tweet thereby spreading your message for you.
When you go to a conference as an attendee, you can use your social media network to boost your conference ROI by connecting with the organisers, speakers and other attendees.
Your blog is tremendously important. Think of your blog as your home base - the place where you want to send people to read more about you and your amazing law firm. All the other places you frequent in social media, those are your outposts - the places where you go to reach out to a new audience and let them know you exist.
Create a blog and a content plan so you know what you plan to publish and when you plan to publish it. Write content to attract your target audience and plan how you will use your social media outposts to spread your message.
By now you'll have people talking about you on social media all the time. They may be sharing your blog posts, discussing the events you've hosted, or simply chatting with your lawyers. Each one of these is a lead. Have a process for tracking them and following up with them.
If you use CubeSocial as your social CRM, there's a handy Find Leads view that shows all the people who have shared your content on Twitter recently. In addition the Team Activity view shows all the conversations your team have been having with clients and prospects.
At CubeSocial we provide social media training, strategic planning and support packages for law firms using social media. Whether your need a little help getting started, some 1-to-1 coaching for senior partners, or complete outsourcing of your social media activity, we have solutions to help.
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