In previous articles I took a look at the use of social media for small firms and advice on its use from the regulators. So, why focus in on Facebook marketing for law firms in particular? The answer is simple: for most small, high street practices, Facebook is almost certainly the most important platform.
If you work in this type of legal practice, your client base is likely to be made up of private individuals and local businesses. At the last count, of the 65 million people in the UK, 32 million are Facebook users. That means almost half of your existing and potential clients are hooked up to the same system.
So, how can you go about reaching them? Let’s take a look at a few of the key points.
Why is Facebook so important?
Apart from the two points I mentioned earlier, the key reasons are:
- Facebook users are more likely to pass your message on to others online than by face-to-face communication.
- That message will then go out to all their “friends”, widening your reach still further.
- If users are members of a local area public Facebook group (like my area group) or an interest group, your message will spread like wildfire to similarly minded individuals.
- When potential clients Google legal services, thanks to Facebook re-marketing, your information will follow them around on Facebook and Messenger for a period of time in the form of adverts.
- Facebook users use their contacts and public groups to ask for recommendations.
- Most of the marketing you do on Facebook only involves your time rather than up-front cost.
I could expand upon this list ad nauseam, but those I have listed are the key reasons. Facebook is a platform that helps you build credibility through engagement. It will also allow you to demonstrate your expertise and to chat live with potential clients through Messenger.
How to get started.
1. Don’t start with Facebook!
That’s right, you have to get something else knocked into shape first – your website. If your firm’s website looks like an 18th century legal document, you are doing yourself no favours. Your website should be as engaging and easy to navigate as possible. Without that, you will suffer from “bounce”. That’s when someone finds you on Facebook or Google, takes one look at your site and then clicks the browser back button.
2. Think about what type of Facebook presence you want.
There are several options but really it boils down to two. You have to choose between a business page and a personal page. Or do you? Obviously if you are running a business it makes sense to have a business page. However, in my experience, Facebook business pages for small businesses do not get the same level of traction as personal pages. So, think about setting up both types. At LawWare, we have both. And our personal page – LawWare Ltd – attracts by far the most attention.
3. Design matters.
There is actually very little you can do in terms of design for your Facebook page. You can only add a cover image and a profile picture. The former should tie in with the overall look and feel of the imagery used on your website. The latter can be an image of your logo – if you can make it fit into the square space reserved for it.
4. Don’t forget the rest of your profile.
There is a plethora of other information you can add to your profile to make it look professional and appealing. The most important of these is the “intro” in which you can write brief information about your firm and add your contact details and website link. Beyond that, think of adding photos, videos, interests and events and any other categories that you feel will be valued by your prospective clients.
5. Content matters.
Update your profile by posting regularly – at least three or four times per week. The posts you make should again include content that is relevant to existing and prospective clients’ legal needs. Don’t forget to add a photo as this will attract attention to the post.
Better still, include the occasional video clip to demonstrate a point or present a testimonial. If you find you are running out of ideas for posts, don’t panic. You can share relevant material from others within your network.
If you take an integrated approach, you can make your Facebook posts simple links to articles or news that you have published on your website’s blog. This has the positive benefit of re-directing your followers to your website.
Use posts that contain legal hints and tips written in lay terms about your services. Above all, don’t forget to include a call to action link in them.
Some ideas for how to create valuable content include:
- Answer questions that people are asking you, even if you’ve already answered them in the FAQs section of your website.
- Look for questions people are asking elsewhere, such as on Quora or Reddit.
- Address common myths that your clients may believe.
- Share your knowledge about what new laws or recent events mean and how it would affect your target audience.
6. Connect, connect, connect.
This is the most important part of the build and is essentially a never-ending process. Choose who you friend carefully. Start by sending invitations to your own work colleagues. Follow these up with invitations to members of your professional network and your existing clients. Once those are covered, invite members of the local business community and then start looking for active Facebook members within your catchment area.
Last but not least, join Facebook groups. These can be local community groups, special interest groups or business association groups. These will extend your exposure dramatically.
7. Use Video
Video is the most powerful tool at your disposal on Facebook. It engages more quickly and directly with your audience – provided you do it professionally. Here’s some things to keep in mind when using video on Facebook:
- Keep it relatively short. Three minutes will often be the absolute maximum time you have to keep users watching, and two minutes or less will increase viewer retention rates.
- Don’t forget Search Engine Optimisation. Make sure your description and video titles use common search phrases, so you’ll increase the likelihood of showing up in search engines.
- Upload videos natively. Native videos are prioritized in the feed, significantly more so than outbound links. Upload your videos directly to Facebook instead of using a YouTube link.
- Cast your staff. In order to build trust, put your firm’s lawyers on camera instead of hiring actors or outsourcing. Let them explain their backgrounds, give legal advice, or answer questions.
8. Be Responsive
Law firms are one of the few businesses that I expect would get less private messages on Facebook than they do through their site just because of the secure nature of the work they do. That being said, never neglect your page’s inbox for a second.
People expect fast responses on live chat, and legal matters often are (or feel) extremely urgent to the people affected by them. Respond as quickly as you can, even if it’s just to ask them to contact you through phone or email directly.
Facebook marketing is often underutilised by many law firms. It will give you a distinct edge over your competition if you choose to be active on the platform. It’s a relatively simple method of developing strong relationships and a trustworthy, credible online presence.
All of the above is what is known as the “organic” approach. You can go beyond this by using Facebook advertising to drive potential clients to you. I’ll take a look at how to go about that in my next article.