Social media is now an integral part of marketing for many law firms. According to the American Bar Association’s (ABA) 2018 TECHREPORT, 76% of respondents have a social media presence. But what about the remaining 24%?
The remaining 24% are likely missing out on the financial value of social media. Ignoring or dismissing social media means losing out on an entire marketing channel. If you’re not on social media, chances are your clients, potential clients, and their friends are. Chances are your competition is as well. At the very least, a social platform is a place where you can answer questions and share informative content, which could increase your firm’s visibility and authority in the community.
If you’re wondering about the first steps for establishing an effective social media marketing strategy, this article is for you.
Step 1: Choose Your Platform
There’s nothing wrong with having a presence on more than one platform. After all, according to Hootsuite, the average Internet user has 7 social media accounts. However, in the beginning, you’ll want to focus your efforts on a platform well-suited to your audience and your firm. Use too many platforms, and you risk spreading yourself too thin.
According to the ABA, 35% of firms with a social media presence use Facebook, which makes it the most popular marketing channel, ahead of email, print publications, and Avvo.
You could potentially reach a vast audience here. Nearly 170 million Americans were on Facebook in 2018, and that number is expected to grow to over 176 million by the end of 2022. The social network’s user base is shifting to older audiences. According to Hootsuite, 41% of American seniors are now using Facebook.
Any law firm using Facebook for marketing must cope with saturation. There are plenty of firms on the network, meaning users see plenty of marketing content — particularly automated ads, which are a common go-to for lawyers who don’t have the time to manually post other types of content.
Users are the most interested in seeing videos, which earn the highest engagement rate (6%) of any type of post. When we’re talking engagement, we’re talking about any type of reaction, whether it’s a comment, click, or share. The overall engagement rate for Facebook posts is 3.75%. When it comes to ads, the average user clicks on 8 of them per month.
The ABA reports that only 14% of law firms are on Twitter, meaning the saturation level is not quite what it is on Facebook. As far as Twitter’s user base goes, Hootsuite reports that 40% of users are in the 18to 29 age group. The percentage of users declines for each subsequent age group.
People primarily use Twitter to share quick updates about what’s going on in their lives, but they also consume news: 71% of users get at least some of their news from the network.
Twitter is popular with journalists, professionals, younger people, and those with a college education. Law firms that maintain a Twitter presence can appeal to these audiences by establishing a professional presence. When it comes to engagement, tweets that include a video are 10 times more successful than those without.
Twitter does have a troll problem, which makes it risky to bank on for SMM. The low percentage of law firms that use Twitter would suggest they don’t view is as the best place for marketing. Importantly, 80% of Twitter users aren’t from the US and the same percentage of users are “affluent millennials.” This is also the top platform for government officials.
Hootsuite notes that, between October of 2017 and October of 2018, the engagement rate for Twitter ads jumped by 50%.
According to the ABA, LinkedIn is the most popular network for lawyers, with 82% using it for professional purposes. According to Hootsuite, LinkedIn is especially popular among college grads and high-income earners: 50% of people with a college degree are on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a good place to engage with other professionals and market your services to them. You’re not as likely to appeal to elderly demographics as you are on Facebook, but if your audience includes other businesses as well as people with higher incomes, LinkedIn is a great place to start.
Step 2: Appeal to Your Audience
After you pin down which social network your audience gravitates towards, it’s important to understand what they want. A social team — a marketing team focused on achieving results on social media — can help you pin down your audience’s specific needs and interests.
Many people want information on laws or what to do in certain situations, such as if they were recently charged with driving under the influence or they suffered a personal injury. Others want to know what’s happening with current events and court cases, while some are interested in lifestyle information to help them improve themselves or avoid pitfalls.
Appealing to your audience is about using data to understand what they’re looking for and then making posts that capture their interest. Clearly, you will need to do more than post ads to appeal to your audience. We’ll get to a good rule-of-thumb for this at the end of the article.
Step 3: Maintain Consistent Posting
The next step is to take what you know about your audience and work towards finding the right voice and tone for your firm through a consistent posting schedule. You should have a pretty good idea about brand identity, voice, and tone before you start marketing, but you won’t be able to gauge the efficacy of your brand’s personality until you establish a baseline.
Maintaining a consistent posting regimen allows you to see what works and what doesn’t. This might sound risky, but there’s no other way to tell whether your ads and brand presence are resonating with your audience. As you publish new posts on a regular basis, gather data about engagement rate and find out which types of posts are most likely to send users to your website or profile page for more exploration.
Additionally, making regular status updates and posting new content keeps your firm’s name fresh in the minds of potential clients. Consistent posting means there’s a higher chance for someone to share out your content, especially if they feel it was valuable or instructional.
Step 4: Follow the 80/20 Rule
The Pareto Principle states that 20% of the action is responsible for 80% of the results. This is a good rule to follow for social media marketing: make 20% of the posts promotional. The other 80% should be informative, with an emphasis on building a community.
If you concentrate too much on ads and promotional posts, you risk alienating your audience. There are very few things more annoying than over-promotion on the internet. Users are constantly bombarded with promotional content from other sources, and you don’t want to become part of the background roar.
Post links to content that’s interesting to your audience for about 50% of the time. Throw in memes, gifs, videos, and images when appropriate. Spend about 30% of the time commenting on other people’s posts and following up with their comments and questions. The other 20% of your activity can be directly promotional.
According to the ABA, 35 of the lawyers who used social media for professional purposes earned client business as a result. Make social media a strong part of the marketing for your law firm, and you’ll be surprised how many new clients come your way.