Social media is a mainstay for consumer brands, helping them grow their audience and attract new customers. However many industries have been slower to adopt these innovative channels, including law firms. Concerns about privacy and regulations have often limited how legal firms are engaging with audiences online, but that is starting to change.
According to data from the study The Social Law Firm,
"As part of their initial efforts to establish a social media presence, the majority of large law firms have demonstrated a willingness to devote substantial resources to create valuable, non-promotional content to populate their social media properties. However, in the majority of cases, large law firms are ineffective in their use of social media, achieving low levels of reach and engagement relative to the resources available and the market opportunity."
In this post, we will discuss how social media can benefit your firm's growth strategy:
How social media can help grow your law firm
Social media is often undervalued since it is (in most respects) a free communication medium. With no or low economic investment, firms can create profiles in social networks to share blog posts, news and firm contact information, and connect with potential clients and industry leaders. While Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter continue to be popular with lawyers, new channels like Instagram slowing being adopted by law firms to connect with digital audiences.
Here are some of the key benefits law firms can derive from having a sound social media strategy:
PR and reputation
Creating a professional presence on social media can improve your firm's reputation as it helps you put your best foot forward in a modern way. Law firms can use social media to share industry or firm news, blog posts and opinion pieces from senior partners, collect reviews and ratings from satisfied clients, as well as share recognition awarded to the firm. By communicating positive news and thought leadership, you can improve the identity, image and reputation of the firm.
Social networks are also a powerful public relations tool because our weight in networks, or rather the number of followers we have, can be a source of admiration among professionals in the sector. The "online" portfolio of contacts, that is, followers who are not yet customers can switch to tangible contacts because of the widespread that the online medium allows if it is done through a powerful strategy.
In many channels, firms can set up groups or communities, which can help them build an audience of opinion leaders. For example, if you are creating content like blog posts, it can be strategic to share them to group on LinkedIn where members have a shared interest in the topics you cover.
Growing your business
In addition to improving your reputation in the industry, social media can help you acquire new clients.
Firstly, by having a greater presence online, potential clients have more opportunities to find your firm and learn about your services. For example, if you have a blog, they can arrive at your site via a search on Google (ie. a search for "divorce law in the UK" could lead them to your blog post "Recent changes in Divorce law in the UK"). If you collect reviews on your Facebook page, potential clients can see how you've helped others win similar cases.
However, using social media to bring new business to the firm isn't just about increasing awareness of your firm and services. It's also about engagement. Firms need to ensure they man their social profiles with someone to respond to private messages, monitor forums and comment threads and proactively comment/like/share on content posted by community members. Consumers are increasingly demanding, and use social channels to source information and services (think Uber!). While you might not be accustomed to providing legal assistance at all hours, if you're on social media, the expectation is that you are available to respond.
Furthermore, social media has become a major channel for advertising. Considering the time many people spend on social media, it can make it a great channel for reaching out to potential clients. With the ability to geo-target and segment your audience, you can deliver tailored content (ie. Ads) to people who if your strategy is sound could turn into clients.
Retaining your portfolio
Just as social media can help you acquire clients, it can also help you keep (or lose) them. Since social media plays such an important role in your reputation, it is vital that you continually monitor what is said about you and the firm.
However, you can also use social media to provide clients with added value, like invitations to special events, and to maintain relationships. Firms might want to consider following their clients on social media, sharing or "liking" when clients post news of their accomplishments, etc.. Actions taken in the digital world can often extend into and strengthen relationships in the real world.
To end, social media can be a powerful tool for lawyers to improve their image, increase awareness, acquire new clients and maintain relationships with existing clients. While concerns about privacy and regulations will always exist, the following best practices can help you comply with rules and benefit from digital channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like.