Everything lawyers need to know about social media marketing
The legal industry is becoming increasingly competitive. Law firms opting to have an online presence are taking a smart first step. But, what are the steps that follow? There are layers upon layers of digital marketing efforts that law firms can apply to equip themselves for the future. One of those layers is social media marketing for law firms.
One of the primary goals of social media strategies is building and maintaining a strong connection with clients. Ideally, your firm’s social media presence should drive more business to your doors. However, doing so requires a lengthy skillset. Here’s an example of what we mean: Many seminars, webinars, and conferences focus on marketing through social media.
In spite of that, not all these events specifically deal with the legal industry – therefore, the information obtained is mainly irrelevant and might even counteract your goals. Case in point, direct messaging on specific social media platforms, such as Twitter (soon to be X), is a typical recommendation for businesses looking to amp up their social branding. Nonetheless, in most jurisdictions, solicitation is against state bar rules.
With sufficient time and dedication, this is something everyone is more than capable of tackling, however, we are aware of the busy schedule attorneys have. It is not common for legal practitioners to have a hard time juggling marketing along with all of the other responsibilities they have and so it can be debated that it’s best to choose an experienced digital marketing partner that knows the ins and outs of legal marketing and social media to get the job done for you. In addition, social media marketing is constantly evolving, so the recommendation to hand over the world of digital engagement to professionals who are familiar with the most recent advertising trends and regulations confirms itself, as sometimes research can be almost considered a full-time job in and of itself! In return, your firm will be able to focus on the actual practice of law without the constant headaches of having to wonder where and when your next big cases are going to come from.
Before we dive into the do’s and don’ts and all things social media for lawyers, let’s quickly look into…
What makes social media for lawyers different?
Law firms need to meet clients where they currently are today: online.
Although traditional advertising has seen long-standing success, people today want and need instant answers and solutions – and thanks to the Internet, that’s possible. All users have to do today is grab their phones, search the web, and have available options at their fingertips in a matter of minutes or even seconds.
While law firms might think, “my calls and cases have nothing to do with the Internet’s silly memes and dog videos,” the answer is: there’s a big chance they do! Social media serves as an entertainment tool, but it is so much more than that. According to Social Media Marketing Statistics, the following are some fast facts and figures of social media usage and business growth:
It’s clear to see that businesses continue to build content strategies around social media for many good reasons. By actively sharing, commenting, promoting, and being a part of the conversation, you can develop top-of-mind awareness amongst groups of people with whom you should be connecting. Some might not have a reason to use your services immediately, but nurturing relationships today can result in your wins tomorrow.
To get (and stay) ahead in the legal industry, it’s wise to use social media as a bridge connecting prospects and your firm. Therefore, it’s recommended to not burn this bridge before or after you cross it.
What are the top benefits of social media marketing for law firms?
This section interests law firms the most: the gifts social media can bring to your firm.
Many lawyers opt for embarking on a social media journey for business purposes and advertise all aspects of their firm, e.g., recruiting talent, networking, sharing the latest legal news, communicating with clients, attracting new clients, and more.
According to the American Bar Association 2020 Websites and Marketing Survey, lawyers already have their professional profiles or their firm’s page on social media but see varying results of success in generating business. While results may vary due to mixed levels of experience surrounding the topic, a robust strategy can enhance many critical elements of your firm, including:
- Boosting SEO – Consistently publishing content helps users discover and connect with your law firm its website and the content within it. Together, both strategies can enhance your firm’s chances of improving your visibility which in turn may help with link-building and search engine rankings.
- Engaging with your target audience and the legal community – Remember when we mentioned it’s best not to burn bridges in case you ever need them? Again, this is what social media is all about: connecting audiences so they can find you at the right place, at the right time. Keeping the social media bridge open gives you greater chances of reaching audiences that need your services but otherwise might have missed you if you hadn’t built that connectivity.
- Attracting prospective clients – In this day and age, users do not take a linear journey toward their purchases; they navigate back and forth between various channels. In order to remain on their path towards deciding on legal representation, firms should diversify. In other words, avoid putting all your eggs in one social basket and create content that stretches out across various different channels – like, for instance, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Establishing your firm as a thought leader – Does your firm specialize in a practice area? If so, showcase it by providing insights and informational content that’s relevant to that specific niche. In return, this builds trust and might even be the differentiator between you and others.
- Creating brand awareness – In order to stay top-of-mind, it’s important to provide valuable information, stand out and be consistent. To put it in another way, to build recognition, firms must actively maintain their online image and expertise.
- Generating leads – This is perhaps the top benefit. All the roads should lead to this: leads. Since social media can be organic and paid, the opportunities are endless. With organic, you can focus on long-term relationships, and with paid, you can focus the efforts on reeling in big fish that are already swimming near you.
Social media ethical obligations for lawyers
While the benefits are plentiful, lawyers need to be mindful when using social media. What do we mean by this? There is a fine line between sharing just the right amount of helpful information and oversharing. Although social media privacy can seem like something of the past, attorneys must reassure their clients, and confidential cases must remain protected at all costs.
To help you avoid troubles, the following are some of the best ethical practices:
- Attorneys must protect their client’s confidentiality at all times – It might be tempting to have a few cases as display cases. However, this can easily turn into a slippery slope if you’re not careful. According to ABA’s rule 1.6 Confidentiality of Information, lawyers need the client’s consent to reveal any information. Additionally, the lawyer makes “reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.”
- Establishing a specific attorney-client relationship is not allowed – In social media, an attorney-client relationship may translate to adding comments and responses on social channels. In addition, ABA Formal Opinion 480 adds that forming a relationship with the readers of their commentary is not allowed.
- The responsibilities of a partner are equally important – In other words, any partner in a firm has comparable managerial authority and responsibility. ABA suggests attorneys follow the ABA Model of Professional Conduct. Although these are all recommendations and not obligations, ABA formed these guidelines to avoid difficult situations, especially those just getting acquainted with the digital realm.
- Include a disclaimer stating your content is not in any way providing legal advice to a specific case or person. Being transparent will always be essential when it comes to legal marketing.
- Think twice before posting. Your sharing capabilities have substantial power because people will trust legal experts, especially those who have garnered a strong digital presence through a well-thought-out social strategy. Due to this, avoid posting information that may come across as legal advice. A good topic would be adding updated legal news and trends.
The basics of social media marketing for lawyers
While there always seems to be so much change in social media, certain practices remain “standard” because of their general applicability to marketing. Before diving into the best practices, let’s flip the coin and look at what your firm should not do regarding social media marketing.
How NOT to use social media for lawyers
Think of this as the expected etiquette in today’s social world.
- Don’t ignore comments – People going out of their way to leave a review or comment are valuable influencers. They are helping your firm’s reputation and are the ones pushing one of the most profitable forms of social proof – testimonials and reviews.
- Steer clear of copyrighted material – Copyright infringement has a cost; it can be thousands of dollars in some cases. Therefore, your best bet is either to be original or make use of copyright-free material and sources. Are you in need of FREE beautiful images now? We’ve got you covered! Creators upload thousands of copyright-free photos at Unsplash.
- Made a mistake? Apologize quickly – If you said something controversial and faced some backlash, the best advice is to apologize quickly. Owning up to your mistakes makes you human, and in return, it can reinforce your relationship with clients.
- Avoid spamming – At all costs. Always. Make sure the content you send is valuable and provides a benefit, solution, and offer.
- Don’t neglect your social media profiles – Just think back to that statistic we mentioned earlier in the guide: the average user spends around 2 hours and 22 minutes on social media every day. With the amount of content consumed, updating your social profiles is an intelligent move – that is, to stay top-of-mind.
How to build a social media strategy for lawyers
Now that we’ve discussed the don’ts in social media, let’s look into the dos:
Step 1: Start with the basics.
- Choose the different platforms where you’d like to invest your time (and perhaps money). We’ll dive into more details about each channel in the upcoming section.
- After handpicking the channels, secure your profiles and verify your information.
Step 2: Understand your audience’s wants and needs.
- There are two types of content research you’ll want to do: your research and your competitor’s research. By looking at your competitors, you should gather inspiration, ideas of what works/doesn’t work and find other legal influencers.
Step 3: Identify your goals.
- Would you like your posts to drive traffic to your site? Increase engagement? Generate leads? It’s key to identify which targets your team is aiming for so everyone works towards achieving them.
Step 4: Conduct social listening.
- Think of social listening as your digital ears. With social listening tools, you’re able to better understand what people in the legal community talk about and, better yet, when and what they talk about when addressing your firm.
Step 5: Develop a content strategy.
- Having to manually decide all the logistics of a content strategy can be overwhelming. Platforms like Sproutsocial can ease this process.
Step 6: Share valuable content.
- Think back to the question, what is this content offering my audience? Then brainstorm and test different types of content that align with your buyer personas’ pains, desires, wants, and needs.
Step 7: Show your human side.
- In short, don’t be afraid to showcase your firm’s personality!
The social networks law firms should consider
The list of available social media platforms grows daily, but today’s popular sites include:
- Facebook – The Facebook market in the U.S. is the second-largest globally and reaches around 200 million users. It is the most popular social media platform in the world. The Facebook algorithm isn’t static, but four crucial signals to consider are the relationship between users, content type (e.g., high-quality original videos), popularity (likes/shares/engagement), and recency (the newer posts show up on top).
- Twitter – Twitter’s #1 market by users is the U.S. This platform prioritizes engagement, so polls, tweets tagging others, hashtag usage, and visuals like memes are always a hit.
- YouTube – What do users in the U.S. consume even more than Facebook? YouTube! Around 74% of adults currently use this channel. YouTube is all about personalized video consumption; therefore, consistently uploading videos if you choose to run with this platform as well can enhance your branding.
- Instagram – This platform uses a mix of algorithms, but the four key factors that influence the feed are:
- Information about the post – Instagram now prioritizes videos as TikTok, a video platform, is a direct main competitor.
- Information about the person posting – Is there a correlation between the post and their followers? Are people engaging with this content?
- The activity of your business – Is the person in charge of the Instagram activity watching a lot of videos? If so, what kind? Are they also commenting and staying active?
- The interaction – This ties back to the previous point, is the user liking and commenting?
- LinkedIn – This is the channel for professionals looking to network, a factor that’s invaluable for lawyers in marketing. Around 92% of businesses use this for B2B purposes. Attorneys looking to network with others in the legal industry should make their profiles as detailed as possible and share thought leadership content.
- TikTok – While younger audiences like Gen-Z mainly use the app, do not underestimate its power. This app has already surpassed YouTube’s average watch time and continues to grow. This app focuses on short videos placed on the “for you page” of the user. The videos shown cater to the users based on their likes, shares, comments posted, and overall interaction. There are already big legal industry influencers joining Tiktok, for example, @legaleagle.
Want to know more about law firm marketing trends? Check out this updated ABA Web Marketing Trends infographic:
The best promotional practices for law firm social media marketing
- Recommended social media image sizes: In the tables below, you will be able to find our recommended image sizes. We include all the appropriate image sizes you will need for your social media for image items like profile pictures, covers, banners, thumbnails, and more.
- Best times to post: One way to research the best times to post is to look into your Google Analytics and see when your website is getting the most/least visits and A/B test posting during these times.
- Leverage your affiliations.
- Promote Local Affiliations – Let people know if your law firm has an affiliation with local businesses. Tag businesses in your posts or give them a shout-out. As we said earlier, don’t be afraid to show the human side of your firm. Having them do the same with your firm is an awesome bonus!
- Promote Charity Affiliations – People want to see if you play a role in the community. If you are giving back in any way, don’t be afraid to say so! When the communication of what your firm does in this regard is executed correctly, it can give your firm a boost.
Measuring your social media results
It is vital to put the work into figuring out which marketing dollars are contributing to your ROI.
This is how you can begin measuring your firm’s social media ROI:
- Start by separating your marketing campaigns by medium: television, online, social media, etc. And track results from your various online marketing efforts, using a formula to get to your ROI calculation like the one below:
- Take the sales growth from your firm’s business, subtract the marketing costs, and divide it by the marketing costs.
- ROI Calculator:
- (Sales Growth – Marketing Cost) / Marketing Cost = ROI
Build Better Connections
Social media is an essential player in the legal marketing world. It can be the bridge your firm needs to connect with the people who are ready to cross to your side.
Regardless of a firm’s size or budget, the basics of building this social bridge require active maintenance. This includes planning and building great content, cultivating relationships, turning those connections into calls and cases, and measuring success.
With that said, we want to end our guide with some food for thought, how’s your firm’s social bridge looking right now? Is it sturdy enough that people are crossing to your side or is it structurally degrading and in need of maintenance?
Are you ready to level up your game and venture into new territories? Yes? Let’s have a chat. Our team of seasoned strategists is ready and set to guide you through those social media uncharted waters.