25 Oct The future of social media in law firms – a commentary
Social media is important for the growth of any business, including law firms. Unfortunately, the legal industry has a reputation for being stuck in old school days – resistant to change, maintaining a traditional outlook, and a stubborn refusal to embrace technology and digital marketing. Is that a fair assessment? Let’s see.
Funky, gritty, new school, edgy, cool. When you hear these words, what do you think of? Perhaps a NYC warehouse loft design company with beanie wearing guys and gals on their Macs. Do you think the legal industry and law firms? Probably not.
Unfortunately, the legal industry has a reputation for being stuck in old school days – resistant to change, maintaining a traditional outlook, and a stubborn refusal to embrace technology and digital marketing. Is that a fair assessment? Let’s see..
I am an ex-lawyer turned marketer who has worked in the legal industry for over 15 years, and these are just some comments I have received from lawyers when talking about marketing over the course of my career:
For 30 years I have been able to attract clients through referrals and by reputation. So, why would I bother with marketing when what I am doing now is working?
Marketing is for other industries but it isn’t for law
Why would I spend partner profit on marketing when I already run a successful law firm. I can ride on my reputation only
Law is not influenced by what other industries are doing. We are a different profession so tactics used in other industries simply will not work in law
My clients are not on social media
I don’t need to attract my dream clients. My clients will come through the quality of my work
How do I remain professional while selling my serves online?
I am not going to demean myself by ‘selling’ myself or my law firm on social media.
Yesterday, marketing was expensive advertising strategies with TV, radio and print, referrals, and schmoozing clients over lunch and drinks. Old school style, (US accent) ’what happens when you have a car accident?’ Today, people skip through ads or can avoid them altogether with Netflix or pay TV. I know I do. Tactics used yesterday are no longer effective.
This, possibly egotistical, point of view is interesting to me. It is the mindset of yester-year and does not reflect the happenings of current circumstances and conditions. We are living in an exciting period of time, it is a very different world to what it was. The digital age.
Allow me to throw you some stats to give some perspective. The world population, as of May 2019, is 7.7 billion. Of that, there are 4.4 billion Internet users, 3.499 are on social media and, on average, people have 7.6 social media accounts. .
If that’s not enough, I will give you some more stats relating specifically relating to social media. .
2,375 billion Facebook users
1 billion Instagram users
610 million LinkedIn users.
Digest those numbers for a second. Now, imagine being that person who thinks that their client is not reachable using digital channels.
Today, there are more people using social media than not, and brands on social media have more influence than those without a business profile.
With the next generation of lawyers and clients coming through, old school tactics such as reliance on referrals, speaking engagements, and significant clients sustaining your firm and your work load, will not sustain your firm long term. Clients of the next generation look online for their lawyer. And, if they do not see any form of online presence, they move on.
Being an expert is not enough anymore. Clients today want to know that their lawyer is intelligent, human, and has an online presence. They want to know who their lawyer is, what their story is, whether they will vibe and would work well together. Expertise is not the primary factor clients look at when finding a lawyer anymore. And, they will head straight to social media and the firm website to scope them out.
For law firms who are delaying or refusing to learn, embrace and integrate digital marketing into their practice, and shunning online tactics for brand awareness and growth, natural selection will come in and play.
For those other firms who are ready, welcome to wonderful and exciting world of digital marketing.
There are glimpses of change in the industry. Top tier firms that have adopted digital marketing seamlessly. Those funky boutique law firms with colourful and fun websites, law firms that are purely online, using social media as their primary channel to attract their ideal clients. They know the power of online marketing to build brand awareness and reputation, and understand that it is essential to long term growth.
So, as a new age lawyer or law firm wanting to adopt digital marketing practices to attract your ideal clients, where do you begin? Let’s look at the essential marketing pillars.
Budget is no barrier when it comes to marketing your firm online as getting started involves minimal outlay. In fact, it’s common to DIY.
Know your client and competitor
It all starts with knowing your client and competitors. Knowing your client is so important. It will set you on the right online path. Where you should concentrate your efforts and where you should be spending your time. Create a client avatar and get to know your ideal client. Include details such as demographics, interests, and how they would prefer to consume content.
Knowing your competitors involves digging into their online presence such as social habits and website and noting what’s working, what’s not and how you are different. This is the time to see what makes you different.
“It’s the vibe.”
Branding is more than simply your logo and colours. It is your voice, vibe and visuals. Here you define the personality of your brand, just as though it was a person. Branding is important as this is how connection is created between you and your dream client.
This is a big one. Content is the glue that holds everything together. Having a strong and highly directed content strategy is crucial when building your brand as it will cross all avenues of your promotional platforms – your social media, your website, and any other marketing pillars you choose.
It’s important to have a strategy that uses the content produced appropriately, and is cross promoted across your range of marketing channels. Cutting and pasting isn’t the right way to approach managing content.
Content could include: video, written posts, podcasts, blogs, articles, Instagram stories, and email.
Providing valuable content that informs, educates, inspires, and allows your ideal client to get to know you and what you are all about, is key.
Before diving into social media, build out a well formed strategy. Don’t get caught in the social media blackhole and dive in without having direction and focus.
1. Be sure to choose the right platforms. Start with 1 or 2 and own them. It’s important not to overwhelm yourself. This is where knowing your dream client comes in. Whatever platform you choose, be sure that your dream clients hang out there. For lawyers, LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful platform to reach your dream clients and referrers.
2. Have a purpose for your platforms, and then add valuable content that educates, inspires, informs, and allows your dream client to get to know you.
3. Create a content calendar to save you time and prepare your content in advance. Content could be written posts, lives, Instagram stories, videos, quizzes, and challenges – to name a few options.
What is key when it comes to social media is being consistent, and posting content that is authentic, that speaks to your ideal client without being salesy, and is so valuable people say, ‘I can’t believe this is free!’
Having an optimised website is as essential as promoting your brand on social media. Your website should detail your services, your firm, your story, your contact details, and your social media handles. Your ideal client should be able to see exactly who you are and what you do in about 7 seconds. That’s all the time you have to capture the attention of a website viewer!
Building an email list
The email list… There are many brands that do not appreciate the true power of the email list, thinking it is a waste of time and that no one reads it anyway. However, having a strong email list is so vital as it is here that you can further nurture the relationship with your dream client, and more comfortably provide details about your services and ‘sell’ to them.
Unlike your social media platforms, you own your email list.
People don’t just give up an email for anyone. It must be earned and, often, the best way to receive a much coveted email, is by giving away a valuable freebie, aka a lead magnet.
And, from there, the email list is the perfect place to further nurture the relationship with your dream clients.
Be consistent, be unapologetically you.
Emerging technologies and digital marketing means that law firms have potential to target and reach their ideal clients at the touch of a button. There is a terrific interplay which allows law firms to utilise digital marketing tools to directly and precisely reach ideal clients and, at the same time, form relationships through the use of content.
With AI and ML coming to the forefront, entire job markets will eventually be wiped out. Preparing for the future and for long term growth is the key to success in the legal industry. And how do you do that? By embracing digital technology and the tools that are readily available.
Remember, with a proper marketing, and specifically social media, strategy in place, you have uncapped earning potential and clients coming in through the door. Without it, there are no sales, no clients, no brand awareness.
If you are interested in learning more about social media download the Social Media Startup Guide and stand out online.
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And, I am here to help you catapult your online visibility with confidence and authority, while being authentically you.
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