You cannot underestimate the importance of social media for small law firms in the modern business world. This is true for all legal businesses, including small law firms and sole practitioners.
In this article, I shall take a look at the different types of social media and provide a few examples of how you can use them to promote your practice successfully.
First of all, let’s define the beast.
What is social media?
Surprisingly, that’s not a straightforward question to answer. There is no commonly agreed definition of social media. However, most regard it as an online platform that allows people to connect with each other and converse. Whether these “conversations” are private or for public consumption, is left to the discretion of the individual user.
Whatever the case, social network users are both consumers of information posted by others and suppliers of content for others.
What are the benefits of social media for small law firms?
There are three key benefits to effectively using social media for small law firms:
- Promotion and branding
- Developing clients and other professional contacts
- Improving your website’s search engine ranking.
Promotion and branding.
In addition to your website, social media provides a platform for you to promote your services and extend your brand. Writing blog posts and getting involved in topical conversations can showcase your expertise and client service.
The key is to adopt a properly targeted and consistent approach. This means you should maintain good frequency of interaction and present messages that are in line with your market and brand. Try not to bombard your audience with information and avoid aiming it at those who are not likely to appreciate it. If you feel you do not have the time to allocate to the job, there are many agencies that can help you at a reasonable cost.
Social media is integral to your brand. Failing to realise that can lead to an information vacuum for your firm. That vacuum is likely to be filled by your competitors.
Developing clients and other professional contacts.
Keeping in touch with existing clients on social media is proven to help in generating repeat business. It is also a way for you to engage with new clients and is nowadays regarded as the online version of traditional networking.
As many legal professionals know Linkedin is also an excellent way to generate new professional contacts that could lead to new business.
Improving your search engine ranking.
So how does this work? It’s really quite straightforward. Having a website with a blog that is regularly updated attracts Google’s attention. Posting links on social media about your blog posts will drive traffic to your site. This is another credibility factor in Google’s approach to ranking.
Google gives priority to sites that are regularly updated, frequently visited, contain appropriate search term material and are well-connected with appropriate links. The net result is your site will rank more highly on Google. That usually means more business. It’s also a great deal more cost-effective than using search engine advertising.
What are the most effective social media platforms?
That depends upon who you are trying to reach. Let’s take a look at Linkedin first, by way of example.
I think Linkedin is the bee’s knees. But then I would. I’m trying to reach out to my target market of UK solicitors and there are 92,000 of them on Linkedin. If you are looking to extend your base of professional contacts, this is the place for you.
However, the chances are you’re looking for the person in the street for new business, rather than your competitors or peers. In that case, Linkedin is probably not your main priority. It is a great place to look for a new job though!
Linkedin is good for arranging networking events and helping to generate introductions to other professionals.
Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service. You can both send and read “tweets” of up to 280 characters in length and include images and links. Your tweets will become searchable on the web.
The most common uses of Twitter are the publicity of corporate events or to send out up to the minute updates to clients. It’s also a good place to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Twitter also allows you to post links to your blog post articles and drive traffic to your website. A typical blog post link on Twitter is similar to the one at the top of the LawWare Twitter page. You can view it here.
Facebook is the largest social media network. It started out as a medium designed for individuals and families to connect. You can now create business pages on Facebook as well as groups. Many businesses use the latter to connect with, and market to, customers. However, Facebook largely remains the province of the private individual. If the bulk of your target market is private clients, then this is probably the place for you.
If you create a business account, you will not be able to send friend requests. So, think about using your personal account to generate business.
YouTube is a video sharing site where you can upload, share and watch videos. The main users of YouTube are individuals but it can be a useful place to upload your own business-related videos or any recent media coverage you have received.
Many law firms have an introductory video of some type on their website’s homepage. YouTube is as good a place as any to store it. The more adventurous legal practices even have links on their sites to video testimonials from clients. This is a much more powerful way of getting your message across than written testimonials.
As I mentioned above, a blog is something best set up as part of your website. It gives you the opportunity to write and post useful, original and market targeted information pieces. These are a good way to attract new clients to your firm. You can allow users to interact with and reply to your blog posts. However, you have to spend the time to both post and respond.
And, don’t forget, your blog will help keep your Google ranking in good shape.
Pulling it all together.
As you’ve probably gathered, there are common themes in all of the above media. The key theme from a practice marketing perspective is integration. Build all these social media marketing platforms to work together as part of an integrated plan. Allowing them to develop in isolation to one another will lead to inconsistency. That could damage your brand and reputation.
Remember the following key points:
- Ensure consistency of brand image and house style across your website, blog and social media pages. Take a look at the LawWare social pages by clicking the social media images at the foot of this page, to see what I mean.
- Once you’ve made the commitment to blog and post on social media, keep it up. If you don’t, competitors will fill the void you leave. If you are short of time, farm it out to a reputable digital media organisation.
- Target your blogging and social media posts carefully. This will give you the maximum return on what is really a very small investment.
Of course, there are other social media platforms out there. Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest are all visually based media. Legal practices have not really embraced these yet, but watch this space, social media for small law firms really is a growing trend.