I recently had a conversation with an old acquaintance from law school who is now a practicing lawyer at a successful law firm – that shall remain nameless for anonymity. Once we caught up and she learned I had changed professions from practicing law to digital marketing consultant for lawyers and law firms she eagerly told me about her frustrations with using social media for her practice. She went on to say that she recently fired the person at her firm who was handling social media for the third time because she was not seeing the results she had hoped for. Her level of frustration was so high, she was considering stopping all her law firm’s social media activity.
“Take a deep breath”, I told her, “You don’t have to abandon all your social media efforts. That is not the answer.” I then proceeded to ask several questions that provided me with some idea of why she was so frustrated and why she had been unsuccessful at finding the right person(s) to handle social for her law firm. Her main problem was that she did not have a clearly articulated set of objectives and goals for her social media efforts. In addition, she was lacking the right strategy that would help her accomplish the goals she was trying to achieve. This is a common problem that I have encountered in my work as a social media consultant and it affects both large and small firms alike.
Obstacles in hiring for social media
The main problem with the social media job market today and thus hiring for social media, is that there is a large number of people who claim they are social media experts. The barrier to entry is low and anyone who has a blog or has been successful in gaining thousands of followers on Twitter or Instagram can claim to be an expert. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Just because someone is good at promoting themselves through public social networks does not mean they have any idea of how to create and execute a social media strategy for law firms.
The problem is actually confounded by lawyers or law firms who are looking to experiment with social media (they know they should do something, they just don’t know what) and decide they are going to hire someone who can help them. These lawyers or law firms then begin their search for a social media consultant that promises more clients and new revenue for the best available price. Without a clear set of objectives and goals the firm makes the decision based on budget and empty promises.
Fast forward to three or four months later, the promises of new clients and new revenues from the “social media expert” do not come through. The law firm loses patience, fires the “expert” and decides social media does not work for their firm – Sound familiar?
Tips to consider
So what should lawyers and law firms do? What should their approach be? Here are some tips to consider before you hire someone to assist you with your social media efforts:
- Figure out your objectives. What do you want to accomplish with your social media strategy? Do you want to increase your revenue? Drive more traffic to your website? Engage with your current clients? Enhance your service capabilities? Raise awareness of your firm? You can’t set out to develop a sound social media strategy until you figure out what your objectives are.
- Listen. Use a social media listening tool to find out what is being said about your firm. What is being said? Where? Is it positive or negative? What is being said about your competitors? Who are the influencers in your industry?
- Consider initially hiring someone as a consultant rather than a full-time employee. Why? Because a consultant can help you craft your strategy and then help you either hire a full-time resource or help train your existing employees. As I have written in a previous article, everyone in your firm should own social. Sure a high level consultant with significant experience and demonstrated success might be expensive. However, most law firms are better off hiring an expensive consultant for a couple of months, than wasting their time on an inexperienced full-time employee. Hiring the wrong person can not only be a waste of money, but also a significant waste in time.
- Whether you hire a consultant or full-time resource, make sure you ask for examples of success. Can the person you are considering hiring point out examples where he or she achieved success through their work? What does success look like? Don’t be fooled by the person who claims they generated thousands of likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter. Ask for concrete examples of how their work drove real business value to their employers or customers.
- Look within. As I mention earlier, you may already have a great deal of talent within your firm that can help you carry out your social media strategy. All you need is someone to help you craft the strategy and then train your current employees to implement it. You will be surprised how engaging and successful your current employees can be if just given the proper training, direction and tools.
Implementing a social media strategy that meets your law firms goals and objectives takes knowledge and experience. There are many so-called “experts” out there, don’t make the mistake and hire the wrong person just because they seem inexpensive. You get what you pay for in life and that applies to social media as well. Take the time to figure out your goals and to educate yourself on what your clients and prospects are already saying about your firm. Also look at your competition and identify gaps where you are able to succeed. Then and only then are you ready to go out and look for the right person to help with your social media strategy.