Few things are more annoying than receiving a list of problems with no recommended solutions. I tell my team, they can only come to me with a problem when they have a recommendation for how we can solve it.
We see many law firms make the same mistakes on social media over and over again. This discourages them from participating and reaping the true rewards that social media offers. Below are seven of the most common social media mistakes lawyers make and our recommended corrections.
Mistake #1: Not having a social media strategy. You should never begin any marketing initiative without outlining a solid strategy. When developing a strategy for social media marketing, you need to give serious thought to the five Ws and the H: Who is your target market? Why you want to use social media? What do you want to accomplish? Which social media platforms will you use? When you will be posting for maximum benefit? How you will execute and measure your results?
Here are 20 things you need to consider to ensure you are developing a social media strategy that will actually help you achieve your overall law firm marketing goals:
- The reason you want to participate in social media.
- What you hope to achieve with social media.
- Which practice areas you want to promote.
- What your target market looks like.
- Which social media platforms your target market uses.
- What information is most important to your target market.
- Which life events are important to your target market.
- Which specific problems you can help your prospects solve.
- The path your prospect takes from searching to buying (the sales cycle).
- Where social media fits within the sales cycle.
- What tone you should take in your social media posts.
- What emotions you hope elicit through text and visuals.
- How frequently you should post to social media.
- What types of content you should post on each platform.
- What types of content best support your marketing mission.
- Where you will get the content on a consistent, long term basis.
- What resources you have to devote to social media.
- Who should be responsible for running your social media program.
- How social media integrates with other aspects of your marketing program.
- How you will define success and measure ROI.
Created and executed correctly, a social media marketing program can help you connect with prospects and referral sources you may never have found otherwise and drive the engagement on to more richly rewarding places like your blog, website or newsletter. Just don’t start the journey without a blueprint.
Mistake #2: Taking on too many social media platforms all at once. Many law firms make the mistake of jumping in to social media by putting up profiles on every network and then find they don’t have the time to maintain them all.
You don’t need to be everywhere. You just need to remember that the most important thing in identifying the right social media platform for your firm is to know your target market. Once you know the demographics, psychographics and buying behaviors of your ideal client, you can then focus on the social media platforms that do the best job of reaching that audience. If your market is business-to-business, then you want to have a robust presence on LinkedIn. If you market to consumers, then Facebook is your best bet. You can find demographic breakdowns on the most popular social networks from the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Social Media Update at www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/social-media-update-2014.
Mistake #3: Focusing on follower quantity instead of quality. While it may boost your ego to have thousands of follower and fans on social media, it will do nothing to boost your ROI or user engagement if you are just counting heads instead of gathering users who have a real need for your services.
The key here is to use social media to build real relationships and you can start with the relationships you already have. Once you join a social media network, your first step should be to find all your contacts there and invite them to connect with you. Once you do, and they like or comment on what you post, that can spread to their networks as well.
LinkedIn has a great tool called Advanced People Search that allows you to leverage your current contacts to find potential prospects in their LinkedIn circles and groups. Just click on the “Advanced” link next to the search box at the top of the page.
Mistake #4: Putting too much focus on your law firm. When crafting social media posts, remember the 60/20/20 rule – 60 percent of your posts should be about something educational in nature or of interest to your followers, 20 percent should be trending or hot topics (e.g., celebrity divorce if you're a divorce attorney or a new update on the law if you're an immigration attorney, or commenting on a news story), and only 20 percent should be about promoting your firm or a call to action.
One of the goals of participating on social media is to spread your influence beyond the direct circle of people who already know you. This occurs when your posts are interesting enough to share. Here are the five types of posts that get the most social media shares:
How-to: These types of posts are perfect for attorneys since they pose a problem, offer a solution and detail the steps in-between. For example, How to Create an Estate Plan for Your Blended Family or How to Document Your Car Accident.
Lists: Lists are very popular on social media because they’re easy to scan and, frankly, humans just seem to like lists! Examples: Top 5 Ways to Beat That DUI Rap or Top 10 Reasons You Need a Lawyer for Your Startup.
What: Many of these focus on a particular topic and sometimes make comparisons. Example: What Attorneys Used to Know About Social Media and What They Know Now or What the New Florida Spousal Support Law Means for Women.
Why: The why post gives people your reasoning for reaching a particular conclusion on a chosen topic. Examples: Why You Should Talk to a Real Estate Attorney Before You Buy or Sell Your House or Why You Need to Review Your Estate Plan Every 2-3 Years.
Video: Nothing works better than video to illustrate a point or legal concept, and to give people a feel for what it would be like to do business with you. Even videos that have nothing to do with your area of practice but just evoke a pleasant emotion are worthy of sharing on social media.
Mistake #5: Treating all social media platforms the same. According to the ABA, 78 percent of attorneys are on more than one social network. However, the vast majority are not using them correctly. They either (a) use it as just another advertising channel or (b) they post all the same information across all social media networks or they (c) don’t engage potential clients and referral sources and make it only about the number of followers or fans they have. They neglect to take into account the unique attributes of each social media site and their results directly suffer because of it. Here’s what we’ve found works best on the top four social media networks for attorneys:
Facebook: the top destination for B2C attorneys, Facebook posts by lawyers get more shares and likes if they contain a personal anecdote or other human element. Directly promoting your firm is a non-starter on Facebook—unless you are talking about your wins. We've had several clients who have had great success talking about the wins they have had for their clients on Facebook. Instead of using direct promotion, add your spin to contemporary news or trends, share an inspirational quote, talk about why you do what you do, talk about how your firm is expanding to help even more people, or post something about your charitable endeavors or the way you treat your staff to a thank you party or a gift certificate for their birthday. By the way, B2B attorney shouldn’t neglect Facebook many of our clients have found it to be a great tool due to its massive number of connections.
LinkedIn: works best for B2B attorneys who know how to work it. On LinkedIn, you have the opportunity to post more in-depth thought leader pieces and share them with your own followers as well as targeted LinkedIn groups whose members will find your topic of interest. B2C attorneys can use LinkedIn to connect with and grow their referral network.
Twitter: immediacy is the watchword for Twitter; it is morphing into a news feed and lawyers should take the opportunity to hop on with insightful commentary on trending topics. You can identify those by checking the trends column on the left side of your Twitter page.
YouTube: if you have not broken into video marketing yet, you are missing a huge opportunity to connect with prospects searching for your expertise! Post informational videos on YouTube and load those videos with relevant keywords so they can be found in search. Google owns YouTube, so having a presence there will help your search ranking. If you don’t have the internal expertise to do video on your own we highly recommend you give LocalLawyerGuide.com a call. They have done great work for several of our law firm clients.
Mistake #6: Ignoring the “social” part of social media. Social media is a 365/24/7 world, allowing you to engage with prospects at any time, and they with you. You must be vigilant about responding to posts and questions the same way you would in responding to a prospect that calls or emails you. Every point of contact is an opportunity to make a positive or negative impression.
By truly engaging on social media regularly, you strengthen your relationships with people you already know and start building new relationships with people you don’t know – your friends’ friends and followers.
Mistake #7: Neglecting to budget properly for a social media marketing program. While it won’t cost you a dime to sign up on social media networks, maintaining a robust presence on these sites does cost you – either time or money, it’s your choice.
Social media is perhaps the fastest way for attorneys to significantly increase their sphere of influence, but it won’t happen overnight. Your sphere of influence is defined as how many people know (1) who you are, (2) who you help, and (3) why you are different. If you only have 100 people who know enough about you to refer or hire you, then you are severely limited in how much you will be able to grow your practice! Social media is a long-term play. Expect to invest at least six-nine months into social media on a consistent basis before you start seeing some major benefits. If you're looking for instant, overnight, or guaranteed success then I recommend you stay away from anyone selling magic wands, potions or bridges. Marketing is a marathon not a sprint!