This is a guest post by Helen Laird.
Law firms and solicitors often don’t use Social media, or if they do use it, they probably don’t make the most of it. According to an audit, released late last year by LexisNexis Martindale Hubbell, few law firms are actually making regular, meaningful use of their social media accounts.
The reluctance to embrace Social media, when so many companies are doing so, could be down to various reasons:
- A perception that Social media means Twitter or Facebook and meaningless status updates about holidays or parties
- Concerns over ethics and confidentiality
- Concerns that you can’t get clients through Social media
So, how can law firms make the leap into the Social media pool, and reap the rewards?
It depends what you’re looking to do. You need to be very clear from the start, and ensure that all employees are clear as well, on what your goals are and what you would like to achieve. Have a Social media policy in place before you start. This should cover:
- What Social media is – Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn are the three main platforms and the ones covered here, but there are also blogging, YouTube, File-sharing sites such as Issuu , Slideshare, and many others.
- Who is allowed to speak for the firm?
- Why you are using Social media?
Remember, you may not think that Social media will work for you, but you are still a business, and whatever your area of practice, the likelihood is that your prospective clients will be using social media in one form or another. So you need to be using it too. That is not to say that ALL lawyers should be using it, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a Social media presence as a firm; if you do it correctly.
This is by far the most popular Social media platform among solicitors, with 77% using it, according to the LexisNexis audit. With more than 100 million users, it’s also a very fast-growing network.
To make the most of LinkedIn, you need to ensure that three things happen.
- You have a company page for your firm, which is well-optimized for SEO – LinkedIn pages do show up in the Google search results – which contain all your company information. You should use this page to post status updates on behalf of the firm- be they legal news, company info, interesting links, press mentions, etc
- All employees should have completed LinkedIn profiles – it’s not enough just to be on LinkedIn, you need to make sure your information is complete and, again, optimized. Make sure that you complete as much as you can, and always include a photo
- Employees must make sure that the name of your firm on their profiles EXACTLY matches that on your company page. This will ensure that they are listed as company employees on that page
You can also use the Q&A section of LinkedIn to show off your expertise. Post answers to questions being asked, and you’ll gain a reputation as being an expert in your field. LinkedIn no longer has a Q&A section.
This is the second most popular Social media platform among solicitors, with 31% using it, according to the audit. But how can you make it work for your firm?
Start off by knowing what you want to use it for. Create your account, with a well-written bio. This should contain a disclaimer stating that the thoughts expressed in the Twitter feed do not constitute legal advice, or similar.
Then, start following people. Identify those audiences you want to reach: other industry professionals, referral sources, media & industry news sources, potential clients, etc.
Start sharing content. Whether it’s news, resources, an upcoming event, a link to an interesting website, make sure it’s of value and interest to your target audience.
Start engaging. Twitter, like all Social media, is not a one-way street. You have to interact. If someone you follow asks a question and you can help, answer it (without the possibility of it being interpreted as legal advice, of course); if you see something interesting that someone has Tweeted, re-tweet it to your followers; if someone re-tweets or mentions you, quickly reply thanking them.
In this way, you’ll build up a network of followers of your own, who know you and trust you to provide valuable info.
The most popular Social media platform in general is actually the third most popular among lawyers, with only 29% using it.
While you might not think that Facebook can be useful to your firm, many companies do have a presence there these days. These might well be prospective clients, depending on your area of law.
When setting up your Facebook, make sure that you create your company page, not a Profile. Profiles are for individuals only. Individual employees may have profiles if they choose which they can then use to “Like” your firm’s Page.
You can use your Facebook Page to post status updates about your firm, any interesting legal news stories, etc. If you have a company blog, think about linking this to Facebook, so that it updates automatically whenever you update your blog. But don’t just stick to news items, post photos and videos too. This way, the content is kept fresh and interesting.
You might also like to post team photos on Facebook. This lets potential clients put faces to names and see who they are working with.
Join Groups and “Like” relevant Pages. Then you can participate in their discussions as well as posting on your firm’s Page. If people see that you’re friendly and helpful – even better if you’ve been recommended by a friend – they are more likely to contact you.
There is more to Social media than just these three networks. For example, if your firm doesn’t have its own blog, why not start one? Or if you’ve got information sheets that are available for public use, try uploading them to Slideshare or Issuu.
Basically, Social media needn’t mean uploading photos of yourself from last Saturday night, or tweeting about what you had for dinner. There’s a lot more to it than that now, and the possibilities for business and marketing are growing. And all companies should be taking advantage of that, no matter what sector they are in.
Tips from Andrew & Co., an independent firm of solicitors in Newark on Trent & Lincoln UK, specializing in Family Law and Employment Law. Follow them on Twitter @AndrewLLP.