Social media is a great way to share firm news about new hires, awards and important case victories. But if that's all you're using social media to do, then you're missing out on significant opportunities to learn more about your clients' industries, find new business, and expand the thought leadership of your firm's key lawyers and practice areas.
There are a growing number of attorneys using social media to achieve their business development goals, but without a social media strategy, your time and efforts may be wasted.
Define your social media goals
First, take the time to identify your social media objectives.
These goals should align closely with the firm's strategy and overall marketing plan. The ultimate goal for most firms is to grow their client base, but what else defines success?
They can be big-picture goals, such as generating more online traffic to a new practice area, or short-term objectives, such as increasing attendance at an upcoming event hosted by the firm.
Some social media goals may include:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Establishing thought leadership and growing your professional network
- Staying top-of-mind with existing clients
- Fostering new client relationships
- Learning from other leaders to discover industry trends and news
In addition to goals for the firm, individual attorneys may want to establish expertise in their industry or practice area. Attorneys can leverage social media to become a thought leader, and journalists may turn to you for interviews and quotes.
Identify the ideal client
With your end goals in mind, determine who you view as an ideal client. This could be a company or person you already work with, or it may be a hypothetical persona.
When you know who they are, what they want and how you can help them, it becomes much easier, and efficient, to reach potential clients on social media. Once you have a sense for who you want to reach, ask yourself whether this article, video, etc., will appeal to this client. Does it address their concerns, goals or emotional state? If the answer is yes, then you're one step closer to landing your next dream client.
Targeting the right people with the right message at the right time will allow you to work smarter, not harder.
Audit your current social media presence
Find all of your social media profiles.
This may be an easy step for some, but be aware of some unofficial accounts that may have been created automatically. Start by searching all of the major social media platforms:
- Google My Business (Google+ and Google Maps combined)
The other social media channels you should check are Vimeo, FourSquare, SlideShare, and Pinterest.
Based on the goals you've identified, decide which of your profiles may need improvement. To avoid wasting your time on the wrong channels, think about which social platforms your ideal clients are using. For many
Comb through the profiles you believe are most important, and fill them out completely. This includes descriptions, logos and banner images that are consistent with the firm's branding and message.
The last step of the audit is establishing the baseline key performance indicators, such as
Develop your content marketing strategy
The cornerstone of a successful social media marketing strategy is great content that educates the reader. Put yourself in the mindset of your clients and identify what information is valuable to them.
To help you find the right topics, start by "listening" to social media through LinkedIn groups, relevant blogs, Twitter hashtags, and trends. What questions can you answer?
Plan your content a few months ahead using a content calendar. This will provide structure and accountability for posting to your social pages.
Social media updates can include a lot more than just text, and they should. Readers will pay more attention to your content if you integrate rich media. LinkedIn and other platforms support a variety of formats, including links to websites and blogs, images, infographics, SlideShare presentations and videos on YouTube and Vimeo.
Due to the nature of the legal profession, it is important to distinguish between insights and actual legal advice. Include a disclaimer in your profile bio to express this point.
Implement. Adjust. Repeat.
Now that your end goals are set, profiles are optimized and valuable content is mapped out, it's time to start posting.
Plan your content a few months ahead, and try to get your content written ahead of schedule just in case something comes up and you can't post on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. As you continue to post, you'll start to see the same active followers. Feel free to reach out to them directly and begin a conversation outside of the content updates, just as you would at a networking event.
There is a lot of content online, and a few social media posts won't magically bring in new clients overnight. With a long-term strategy and consistent content, however, you should be able to foster your professional online relationships and, hopefully, turn them into loyal followers and clients.
Use analytics to track your progress
One of the great things about digital marketing is the ability to quantify and track the activity of your users through analytics. Many social media platforms do this automatically, but you should also include Google Analytics on your website or blog to learn more about user behavior on your site.
Social media goal:
Analytics is a powerful tool that can illuminate trends and help you optimize your content and social media strategies.
Let's revisit your social media goals and identify the corresponding key performance indicators you'll want to track.
- Social media goal ► Performance metric to track
- Increasing brand awareness ► Audience reach for each post
- Establishing thought leadership and growing your professional network ► New followers or connections with your page
- Staying top-of-mind with existing clients ► Percentage of returning visitors to your website or social media profile
- Fostering new client relationships ► Number of online conversations and contact submission forms
- Learning from other leaders to discover industry trends and
news ►Groups, connections, and industry leaders that you follow
- Growing a new practice area ► Online traffic to the practice area page
- Promoting an upcoming event ► Number of registered attendees
Empowering yourself with a social media strategy will allow you to maximize your online marketing efforts and track your progress every step of the way regardless of your marketing goals.
As Digital Marketing Manager for Androvett Legal Media & Marketing, Bria helps businesses shape their digital presence through social media, email, and other online campaigns. Bria Burk attended the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri, where she earned degrees in both Strategic Communications and Graphic Design. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.