I had a conversation with the senior managing partner of a mid-sized law firm last week. I was referred to him through a good friend who suggested that I should contact him about the services we provide. I spoke to him on the phone and before I could say a word he basically told me that he was not interested in social media. He explained to me that his firm had been around for a long time and that his potential clients already knew about him and the firm, therefore, there was no need to do any marketing. It’s not uncommon for senior partners at a firm to only think about the present without having an eye toward the future. A large percentage of senior partners at firms started working when the “old boy network” was the way to grow your business. Things have changed drastically, competition is fiercer than ever. So how do you go about convincing senior partners to understand the value of social media and digital marketing can bring to your firm? Listed below are a few suggestions that have worked for us in the past:
1- Provide Examples: One of the most effective strategies we use when we need to get senior partners to understand the value of social media is to set them up with a free Hootsuite account. Hootsuite provides both social media publishing and social media monitoring. In this instance, we use Hootsuite to monitor the social media activity of individuals, companies and organizations that are of interest to senior partners. We actually sit down with the senior partner, and ask him to name companies and individuals he finds important or influential to his practice. We also ask him to name a few key words or phrases that are also important to his practice. We then build tabs and activity streams on Hootsuite on the fly and demonstrate to him how he can monitor what certain people or companies are posting on social media in real time. This is a huge eye opener for senior partners. Think of it as the “AHA!!!” moment. Our clients can’t believe that they can actually monitor this information in real-time in such an easy manner. We encourage them to try it for a couple of weeks to get a sense of what goes on in social media.
2- Benchmarking: Anyone who works in the legal industry knows that law firms like to compare themselves to what other law firms are doing. Usually, once a few law firms start doing something and it proves worthwhile the rest will follow. Therefore, benchmarking your competition and showing senior partners what your competitors are doing usually causes senior partners to take action. Start by making a list of your closest competitors and research what they are doing on their website and on social media. Do they have a Facebook page? A Twitter account? A blog? How many followers do they have? What kind of engagement are they getting? Have they gotten press coverage as a result? This kind of information is always helpful in getting senior partners to understand the value of social media by showing what your competitors are already doing. A good place to start might be to take a look at our 2016 Social Law Firm Index. This study analyzes the use of social media and digital marketing at America’s largest law firms.
3- Examples of Success & Failures: Nothing is more powerful to demonstrate the value of something than showing actual examples of success or failure. If your firm is already active in social media, share with your senior partners the successes you have achieved. You don’t necessarily need to show how social media led you to getting hired, although that would be ideal, you can also share small success stories like getting quoted in the local law journal or having a current client comment on one of your blog posts. Demonstrate any type of engagement with your audience and if you can show how that engagement has resulted in new opportunities. If you are not actively involved in social media yet, then share the success stories or failures from close competitors if you can find them.
4- Use Market Data: There are many publishers and research companies that are constantly publishing data on how different industries are using social media. Large organizations like Forrester, Gartner and Nielsen publish multiple reports throughout the year. Get a hold of these reports and find those that focus on the industries that are important to your senior partner. If your partner focuses on Financial Services, then show him reports of how people in the Financial Service industry are using and engaging with social media. Same goes for telecommunications or retail. It’s not enough to show senior partner that other law firms are using social media. Sometimes the best way to inform a senior partner on the value of social media is to show him how his clients or prospects are using and consuming social media.
5- Start Small: As consultants, one of the strategies we employ with the firms we work with is to start small. Rather than develop and deploy a social media strategy for the entire firm, we usually begin with one or two practice groups. This allows firms to “test the waters” and get a sense for what works and what needs to be improved. We usually ask our clients to recommend one or two practice groups whom they believe will be most eager to embrace and experiment with social media. Another benefit of this approach is that as those practice groups begin to demonstrate some traction and success, it is very easy to share those success stories with senior partners and other practice groups that may also be thinking about getting started with social media.
6- Have an Effective Social Media Policy: For many senior partners, the challenge is not so much conveying the value of social media as it is to allay their fears of this new medium. Senior partners usually avoid social media because they are afraid of losing control and something going array. Perhaps they have read negative stories in the press about what can happen with social media and are reluctant to try it no matter how much value you demonstrate. One of the techniques we use to help senior partners to overcome their fears is to help them craft an effective social media policy. A well crafted social media policy will help to reduce the risk inherent with social media while at the same time providing training and education to firm employees on how they should conduct themselves through social media.
7- Seek Outside Help: Sometimes it is necessary to enlist outside help in order to help you overcome a senior partners objections about social media and to properly explain the value. Sometimes external consultants can do a better job in convincing senior partners that this is something they need to do in order to be successful in the future. One of the benefits our clients get when they hire us is that not only do we have expertise in social media, we are also former lawyers who understand the law firm culture and the business of law. We spend a significant amount of time working with senior partners to help them understand social media and getting them comfortable with the concept.
8- Measure and Report: A critical success factor in demonstrating the value of social media to senior partners is to be able to properly measure and report on your success. Therefore it is critical to begin with setting up a set of key performance indicators you will use to measure the success of your social media efforts. Work with your senior partners to identify what success will look like and what is important to them. If lead generation is important, then make sure you have the proper analytics in place so that you can measure and generate reports on your activity and engagement. Social Media success take time to develop and build and it is an ongoing process of measuring and adjusting. It is therefore important to continually be demonstrating value to your senior partners. From our experience, we know how challenging it is to help senior partners understand the value of social media. In many instances it has to do more than fear than any logical explanation.
We hope the tips outlined above will help you make the case for social media at your firm. To learn more about using social media to attract new clients and see how your law firm is currently performing on social media, contact our experts at Good2bSocial for a free social media audit!