Trolls, hackers and public relations nightmares—the risks of social media are highlighted frequently. Nonetheless, platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn have become the 21st century equivalent of the Yellow Pages. That means law firms that are not “listed” are likely to miss out on potential referral sources, clients and job candidates.
Why you can’t ignore it
A Pew Research Center survey conducted in early 2018 found that the typical American uses at least three of the eight major social media platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp). And it is not just younger people who are on these channels—64% of respondents ages 50 to 64 use social media.
With social media so embedded in our lives, it has come to play a critical role in branding. Before social media took off, many law firms spent a lot of time optimizing their website content for search engines, researching keywords and crawling over Google Analytics. But, social media makes it much easier to build your name recognition. You can use multiple channels to repeatedly and consistently communicate who you are, what you do and for whom you do it. Your postings can convey your areas of expertise and position you as a thought leader in those areas.
Your postings also provide a prime tool for networking. They help you stay top of mind with your existing referral sources and introduce you to new sources. Social media lets you quickly find and connect with business leaders, media and others. Of course, you will need to put in some face time in real life with such people—virtual connections alone will not cut it.
How to make the most of it
You also need to do more than simply post profiles on the popular platforms. When it comes to social media success, content is king. Do not make the mistake of just sending out links to articles and press releases.
Develop videos to convey what you have previously gotten across with text. For example, you could create or share clips on topics of interest to prospective clients and post day-in-the-life videos for job candidates. If you post only promotional materials, you will not get too far. You must give users a reason to follow you and, going forward, pay attention to your posts.
Whatever you end up posting, be sure to do so on a regular basis. The best way to ensure this happens is to have a posting schedule that includes both the days and the specific times to post.
As far as where to post, resist the temptation to hop on every available platform. Instead, narrow your social media platforms according to whom you want to reach. Identify the demographics of your target audience and select the three or so platforms most likely to reach them. For example, LinkedIn is especially popular with college graduates and those in high-income households.
Make the investment
While social media accounts are free, effective use of them requires a significant investment of nonbillable time and attention that might not produce obvious or immediate results. But, the costs of staying off of social media probably are even higher.