Build your law practice with social media

social media for lawyersBack when many of us started the practice of law, social media was an unheard-of concept. Now it is a large force in the marketplace, like it or not, it is here to stay. Social media levels the playing field for client acquisition. The better presence you have on the web, the better you can compete with the larger name firms.

Additionally, social media sites are free to join so you can stretch your marketing dollars and keep your expenses low which is critical for a new practice.

Having connections through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., gives your firm credibility. It shows you are current with modern ways to communicate and you can display your knowledge with content. People hire attorneys based on their comfort level. You may have heard the saying: “People hire lawyers, not law firms.” Social media allows you to showcase your personality which is helpful information for clients deciding whether to hire you.

Before diving into social media outlets, develop a plan:

  • What do you want to achieve?

  • Who is your target market?

  • What social media do they use?

  • How can social media reach them?

  • How can I tell what works?

You should consider how you want to present your business on the many social media outlets. If you choose one or more options, set a realistic schedule of how many posts, tweets, or articles you will create.

Set aside one day each week to spend no more than 20-30 minutes on creating social media content. The number of posts is much less important than the content. What should be done daily is checking for comments and responding to any comments or messages.  Even if someone posts a brief comment or likes your post, reply to their comment and thank them for reading. The key to social media is engagement. If someone responds to you, make sure to promptly respond back.

It is also important to look at what impact your posts are making. This is done by studying analytics which tell you how many people viewed your article or post, liked it, or shared it. Many social media sites display analytics for you to review. If you notice that there is a certain topic that gets more interest or a social media platform that creates more engagement, focus your efforts on expanding those. Conversely, if there is no engagement on a social media site, maybe your target audience does not use that site. If you can determine where your target audience spends most of their time on social media, you have struck gold.

Spend some time looking at how others have successfully used social media to promote their services and develop their following. See how you can adopt some of those strategies into your own social marketing plan.

FACEBOOK

Facebook is an easy way to get started in social media. You can set up a Facebook page dedicated to your firm that lists all your contact information. You can include a headshot of yourself and a short biography of you and/or your firm. Within the information you provide, it is important to include a brief disclaimer that any articles or posts are not intended as legal advice, every case is different, and any reviews do not guarantee outcomes.

With a Facebook business page, you can provide links to interesting articles, give updates on laws or your practice, and set up invitations to your speaking engagements or events.

If you blog, you can link your blogs to Facebook so that as blog posts are published, they will also show up on your page feed. This is another way for a potential client to see your personality and expertise.

You can put a Facebook icon on your website to encourage clients to like your page. On your Facebook business page, there is a section where clients can leave reviews.

We never considered having a presence on Facebook until our clients began asking us if we were on Facebook. If there was an article or tip they found could benefit someone else, it was an easy way for the client to forward the information to others.

Once your business page is set up, you can send invitations for people you know to like your page or follow you. For professional reasons, it is better not to mix your personal page with your business page. Your clients don’t need to know what you ate for dinner and they likely don’t want to see photos of your cat. It is also a good idea to keep clients as friends on your business page and not your personal page.

LINKEDIN

LinkedIn is another popular way to get information about yourself and your practice out in cyberspace. It is also platform that clients can easily comment on and recommend your skills. You can post any speaking engagements or publications that boost your image as an industry guru.  You can also post articles or items that you think would be of interest to your audience and draw attention to your practice.

LinkedIn is also a good way to connect to referral sources. Think about everyone you know from alumni groups, to clubs, to fraternal organizations. It is an easy way to promote yourself and highlight what you do.

Use LinkedIn to get in front of your target market. Once you have identified who your potential client is, join groups that you think they would join and see what is of interest to them.

TWITTER

The advantage of Twitter is that the posts or “tweets” are limited in character length. Your tweets can convey a quick message or link back to an article on your blog or webpage. You can follow others in your practice area to learn of new developments. Others can follow you so you can build up an audience for your brand.

In fact, you should not use Twitter to promote your firm but to promote you as an individual.  Show your interest and knowledge about certain topics. Start conversations about the areas you handle. Respond to the tweets you receive to continue engagement.

Another advantage of Twitter is that you don’t always have to come up with original content. You can re-tweet articles that you find are well written and beneficial to your audience.

Use Twitter for research purposes as well. Find out who the successful lawyers follow. Learn from others and mimic the strategies they use to advertise their brand.

INSTAGRAM

Instagram is a social platform that allows you to share photos and short videos (one minute in length). A case could be made for Instagram if (1) you use it and love it, or (2) your target market is primarily younger adults. Set up an Instagram account for your business with a profile that links you to your website. With Instagram, you can reflect more of your personality and sense of humor.

What should you post on Instagram? Since Instagram is a visual medium, you must be creative. You can share photos of yourself in a conference room or a coffee shop waiting for a client, or show yourself in different parts of town to illustrate that you are truly mobile.

You can share inspirational quotes or funny quips. You can share a quick tip or legal fact. You can even post ridiculous laws that are still on the books, the point of Instagram is to pique someone’s interest so they find out who you are.

Instagram is not the place for selling. For example, a DUI defense attorney may have better results by posting a photo of a breathalyzer device with the caption “What should you do before this?” A viewer will be intrigued and click on the photo to be linked to your information. That is engagement. Posting a card with your name, phone number and the caption “DUI Lawyer” is not engagement.

A note about hashtags: Hashtags or posting a pound sign (#) with a keyword is a powerful way for social media networks to organize data and for you to reach your audience. When you are posting an article, you can add hashtags with keywords that relate to your topic or would target your audience. For example, if you are a family law attorney in Denver and write an article about “5 Things to Do Before a Divorce” you might post the article with hashtag #divorce, #familylaw, #denver.

YOUTUBE

Many lawyers use YouTube as an inexpensive way to create short Infomercials for their practice. If you enjoy that medium, you can post short videos about your practice or give general legal information. If you are going to use YouTube, look at what other attorneys have posted as examples of what to do and not do. Only proceed if you can put together a professional video that shows you in the best light. You can make a short introduction video that you can imbed on your practice’s website.

Although these are highly popular social media platforms, consider the professional image you want to convey and what likelihood your time into these will result in potential clients. It may be a wiser investment to spend your time and put your money into a professional website.

Catherine Hodder, Esq. and Kelly C. Sturmthal, Esq., authors of Law Office on A Laptop: How to Set Up Your Own Successful Mobile Law Practice, provide practical e-books, advice and support for solo practitioners and entrepreneurs.