If you want to grow your law firm and increase your caseload, you know that attorney SEO is something you absolutely must invest in. But, ranking organically on Google and other search engines isn’t the only way to get clients. And, it’s wise to diversify your marketing efforts – because law firm SEO is always changing.
Social media is a great way to increase your brand awareness, stay on top of emerging trends, and connect with people in your community who might be on the hunt for an attorney (or know of someone who is).
Has your law firm considered social media marketing? Here’s what social media can do for lawyers.
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The Benefits of Social Media Marketing for Law Firms
You may think that social media is for kids or that social media marketing is best for retail brands. But social media marketing is an effective tool for any business — including law firms — to grow.
Start by understanding how it works. Then, you can build a time-efficient social media marketing campaign that yields a huge return on investment.
You can use social media to:
- Build and strengthen awareness of your brand
- Generate more referrals and inquiries from prospective clients
- Engage with prospective and current clients
- Establish credibility in your local community and the legal industry; and
- Improve your SEO, making it easier for prospective clients to find you.
Investing a little bit of time and energy into curating a social media presence for your firm can have huge payoffs.
Build Brand Awareness
More than 70 percent of the country uses social media, with steadily rising usage among all age groups. Even among those 65 and older, social media usage approaches 50 percent. Among those 50 to 64, 73 percent are active on social media.
As expected, the numbers grow higher among younger consumers. However, when you engage on social media, you’re able to market your brand to a broader audience. This helps raise awareness of your law firm.
Generate More Referrals and Inquiries
Some social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, are ideal for lawyers to network and provide referrals. Others are excellent for targeted marketing efforts because they provide you with tremendous amounts of user data and advertising opportunities. With this data, you can focus your marketing efforts towards clearly defined groups of local consumers.
Forty-nine percent of law firms spend money on web leads, a costly and often ineffective prospecting process. But a well-designed and executed social media marketing campaign can help you generate lots of new leads for a fraction of the cost.
Engage with Prospective and Existing Clients
Prospective clients need to trust that if they engage your firm’s services, you have the experience, resources, and will to act in their best interests. Demonstrate that by thoughtful and prompt responses to prospective client inquiries on your firm’s social media pages. Accurate and prompt answers to a hesitant client on a social media messaging app may make the difference between keeping and losing that client.
By highlighting the cases you’ve won on social media, you enhance your firm’s reputation in your community and among other lawyers. Use social media to demonstrate thought leadership — a form of content marketing where you publish content that illustrates your knowledge and expertise on a particular issue.
For example, if you’re an expert in employment law, you might write and share articles about new employment law court cases. Explain the ramifications of these cases in lay terms and share your insights. Doing so will help the public and other lawyers recognize your expertise in this arena.
Improve Your SEO
Your website is the first impression a prospective client gets. Almost 40 percent of consumers use the internet to find a law firm. And nearly three-quarters of those consumers wind up placing a phone call to a law office. Seventy-four percent of consumers visit law firm websites before contacting a firm. And a whopping 96 percent of consumers use the internet to search for legal advice online.
To capture a share of this audience, you must ensure your website appears on the first page of search results. When consumers in your area are looking for legal services, you want your page to show before the competition.
Search engine optimization (SEO) ensures that search engines easily find your website. A well-designed social media marketing campaign can add a significant boost to your SEO.
What Are the Best Social Media Platforms for Attorneys?
Chances are you or one of the attorneys at your firm already dabble in social media. According to the American Bar Association (ABA) ‘s 2020 Legal Technology Survey Report, 81 percent of respondents indicated their firm was active on one or more social media platforms. Seventy-seven percent of lawyers indicated that they maintained a presence on social media for their own professional reasons.
If your firm still has no or a limited social media presence, get started now. The best platforms also happen to be some of the world’s most popular. They include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
The largest social media platform in the world, Facebook provides law firms the opportunity to showcase their firm through written, image, and video posts. It also provides a wealth of targeted advertising opportunities, allowing you to develop and display ads to Facebook users who match the criteria you establish.
For example, you can target your ads to consumers in a specific age range, employment status, relationship status, and more. You can also engage in remarketing, a marketing tactic that serves your ads to people who have recently visited your website.
Instagram, also one of the world’s most popular platforms, is a handy tool for brands to showcase themselves visually. It may seem counterintuitive that Instagram could work well for law firms. But you can make the platform work for your firm by showcasing pictures and videos that highlight your attorneys and workplace culture.
For example, use Instagram to share videos of your attorneys engaged in community service activities or passion projects. By helping prospective clients get to know your law firm’s attorneys, you can make them feel comfortable enough about your firm to give you a call. Doing so is increasingly important as a growing number of consumers (63 percent) want to do business with firms that are doing good and avoid firms that aren’t.
Twitter is another good platform for legal practices, although only 16 percent of firms use it. Use it to prospect for leads, following similar targeted marketing and remarketing opportunities as Facebook.
Additionally, Twitter is an excellent place to demonstrate thought leadership by sharing short insights about high-profile cases in areas in which you specialize.
Twitter is also a vital piece of PR strategy. More than 80 percent of journalists frequent Twitter. Whether you’re looking to secure positive coverage of your firm for brand-building purposes or need to build publicity around pending or ongoing cases, Twitter should be a prominent part of your PR efforts.
Like Twitter, LinkedIn provides an excellent platform for connecting to others in the legal industry. The platform also features many online groups for lawyers, distinguished by practice specialty, location, and other attributes. By publishing posts on legal subjects on the platform, you can build credibility as an expert in your field.
You can also prospect for individual and corporate clients through targeted text, picture, and video ads. It’s little wonder that LinkedIn is the most popular platform among law firms and lawyers, with 42 percent reporting having used it in the past year, as per the ABA.
No matter which of these platforms you use, video content is the most popular content type among consumers.
- Consumers have an average of 5 streaming apps on their devices.
- The average person watches 84 minutes of online video each day.
- People share video 1200 more times than posts with just images or text.
YouTube is the king of video content. Seventy-three percent of consumers watch their videos on YouTube — more than those who use Facebook video or Instagram. Five billion videos are watched each day on the platform.
YouTube offers the same microtargeting and remarketing opportunities that other platforms do. Like Instagram, YouTube provides you the chance to personalize your brand and show the human side of your firm. Best of all, many law firms are not yet using video marketing (only 24 percent as per the ABA survey). This gives you a huge opportunity to gain a competitive edge.
How to Build a Law Firm Social Media Marketing Strategy
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube provide a wealth of opportunities for law firms. But how do you use them strategically? How do you develop a complete strategy to market your law firm through social media that helps you achieve your marketing goals? How do you effectively assess the return on your investment?
You need a plan. Hopefully, your law firm has a strategic marketing plan you’re already using. In this case, you can build social media marketing plans aligned with your strategic marketing plan. Rely on the background information and market analysis in that plan. However, you’ll probably need to perform additional research about the online consumption habits of your target audiences, among other key attributes.
The ABA reports that 13 percent of Legal Technology Survey respondents noted that no one handles marketing at their firm. That number climbs to 32 percent among attorneys practicing solo.
Lawyers at more than 73 percent of firms with fewer than 50 employees handle marketing themselves. And fewer than half of all respondents indicated their firm had a dedicated marketing budget.
Are you starting with a budget or a plan in dire need of updating? Or, do you have neither in place? Either way, here’s what you need to know to get started.
Step 1: Establish Your Goals
The first step is identifying what you want your social media marketing efforts to achieve. Do you want to build and grow awareness of your firm? Are you trying to grow the number of prospective client inquiries you receive to your website? Is your goal to position your firm as the preeminent authority in your legal field in your area?
Start by establishing both short-term goals and long-term marketing goals that are important to your firm’s success.
Your goals should be:
- Practical, realistic, and attainable
- Quantifiable and measurable
- Aligned with your firm’s financial goals, as well as current marketing goals, if any; and
Set these at the start to set yourself up for success.
Step 2: Identify Your Target Audiences
Next, you’ll need to identify your target audiences. In most cases, your primary audience will be prospective clients. Secondary audiences might include others in the legal industry who can provide referrals, and legal industry influencers and reporters. Essentially, identify any groups that will help your practice grow.
Research which consumers are most likely to seek out and retain your legal services. Start by assessing the demographics and other attributes of your existing and past clients. Don’t forget to look up their social media consumption habits. Also, take a look at the social media pages of your closest competitors for insights. Assess who they are trying to attract.
Step 3: Develop a Messaging Strategy
Determine the types of messages that appeal to your primary and secondary audiences. Are your clients younger and interested in authentic brands? Or are they somewhat older and compelled by expertise and authority? Your target audience’s interests and needs will drive the messages you develop — in terms of substance and form.
How do you determine the best messages to use when your research identifies competing wants and needs among your target audience? Use the information you’ve gathered to create a client persona — a hypothetical person based on the most common attributes of your prospective clients. Give this person a name. Keep them in mind when developing social media content and choosing which platforms to prioritize.
Step 4: Select the Appropriate Media Tactics
Next, determine which social media tactics will be most effective. Include which platforms to use and how you’ll use them, both in a paid and non-paid capacity.
You’ll need to decide:
- What your posting strategy will be for each platform
- Which platforms you’ll use to advertise
- What your ad formats will be on each platform (for example, text or graphic, or written ads); and
- Whether it makes sense to pair social media tactics with other ad channels (radio and social media, for instance).
Consider these carefully in conjunction with your messaging strategy.
Step 5: Determine Your Success Metrics
Along with selecting the right tactics, you must determine which metrics should be used to assess your progress and performance effectively. Keep in mind that each platform provides you with an abundance of data — so much that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Familiarize yourself with the metrics available before you get started. Identify relevant metrics for each platform. Choose ones that are:
- Directly correlated with broader business goals
- Increase engagement meaningfully
- Expand your reach
- Provide actionable insights; and
- Are challenging to misinterpret or manipulate.
For example, if you’re using Facebook to build your reputation, you could track the number of “likes” on each post. But “likes” don’t tell you much. Often, they don’t even mean that the consumer even truly likes your content. A better metric is the number of positive comments left on each post. This will provide evidence that consumers do, in fact, like your content.
Step 6: Establish a Marketing Budget
Create a marketing budget based on your timeline and tactics. Don’t worry. You can start small. One of social media’s advantages is that you can scale up — or scale down — your advertising in real-time. If you want to start with a couple of hundred bucks to get your feet wet, you can. Then, adjust and expand based on your initial results.
Step 7: Develop a Content Calendar
Establish a content calendar and a production schedule to ensure you have regular content to post. After all, it’s likely the last thing you want to do after full days of managing your practice is rack your brain each night for the perfect post.
Avoid that stress by creating a list of the kinds of messages, pictures, and videos you’d like to share. Develop some of that content (at least three to six months worth) on the front-end. Use each platform’s scheduling tools to pre-schedule content that will go live on the days you determine to cut down on your daily workload.
A note of caution: Scheduling content in advance doesn’t mean you don’t need to check your social media pages. You do! Regularly check responses to your posts and engage with commenters. Remember that changing events may render a planned future post obsolete. Periodically check what’s in your publishing queue and adjust as necessary.
Step 8: Review the Plan with Your Team
Your entire team must be aware of your social media plan. First, have your lead attorney in charge of firm compliance ensure your plan does not inadvertently break any laws, regulations, or judicial conduct codes. Next, review your plan with your entire staff.
Again, 77 percent of lawyers maintain a social media presence themselves for their own professional reasons. And 29 percent of lawyers were able to win a client for their firm through their personal social media accounts.
For effective social media management, you’ll want to loop your staff in early on. Make sure that their actions do not undercut yours. Establish a set of policies that detail appropriate and inappropriate uses of social media for employees, along with your plan.
What Attorneys Shouldn’t Do on Social Media
After taking these steps, all that’s left is to get started. Make sure you keep an eye on your performance regularly. Make necessary adjustments. Trends change quickly on social media. Additionally, beware of these common pitfalls.
A cornerstone of every law firm brand is the trust between attorney and client. If a consumer feels you’re trying to mislead or deceive them, they won’t seek your services. Avoid messaging that does not genuinely represent your firm. Today’s consumer is savvy enough to spot inauthentic content a mile away.
Consumers expect content. If you’re not offering it, they’ll quickly find other outlets. It can be tough to develop and post compelling content regularly. However, you must cut through the marketing clutter and stand out.
Advertise Without Engaging
Some marketers spend all their time pushing ads towards their audience. Consumers notice and get tired of this. Instead of constantly advertising, aim for a good balance of advertising and engagement. For example, you can get a lot of mileage by interspersing thoughtful questions for your audience (and responding to them) with regular posts about legal matters.
Build a Social Media Presence Everywhere
A common beginner’s mistake when starting to market on social media is developing corporate pages on every single platform. When you overextend yourself, you’re less effective on key platforms. It’s hard — and expensive — to create meaningful content on every single platform.
Be Afraid to Apologize
If an existing client calls you out online for mistakes you made, or they believe you’ve made, avoid the defensive crouch. You’re not in a courtroom. A 1,000-word post detailing why the client is wrong may not only cost you that client but other clients and prospects as well. Instead, don’t be afraid to apologize and ask them to give you a call or visit your office.
Feed Online Trolls
Understand that there are some people online who derive pleasure from provoking an unpleasant reaction in others. Some people may spend days posting divisive and hostile comments on your page, trying to goad you into reacting. Don’t waste your time or energy. Report them to the platform, and block them or ban them from your page.
Trust LawRank to Take Your Law Firm Social Media Marketing to the Next Level
Social media marketing remains an indispensable tool for law firms of all sizes looking to grow – especially as a supplement to SEO and PPC advertising campaigns. But, social media marketing is not as simple as slapping your logo on a company Facebook Page. It requires research, a well-thought-out strategic plan, preparatory work, dedicated resources, and continual monitoring and refinement.
The attorney SEO specialists at LawRank can help you build a successful social media presence, engage with your community, and make the phone ring. We take a holistic, detailed approach to every marketing project we undertake.
Contact us to develop a robust social media marketing plan, grow your law firm with an organic SEO campaign, and, ultimately, help you get a great ROI.