How often do you use Facebook? How about other social media? Do you consider what happens to information that you’re willingly sharing?
Even if you don’t give much thought to these concerns in your personal life, if you’re marketing your law firm in today’s world, you need to start. Consumer privacy, data leaks, and questions about the way that private information is used and shared have become hot topics following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. You may have noticed the new Facebook commercials that are trying to regain the public’s trust of the platform. However, if you’re unfamiliar with that company or the recent investigations they’re involved in, check out this article from the New York Times.
Essentially, the business and it’s parent company Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) came under fire for being a part of one of the biggest data leaks in Facebook’s history. Several news sources alleged that Cambridge Analytica harvested the profiles of 50 million Facebook users – illegally – in order to target and influence voters in both US and UK political activities. The news has raised concerns across the globe around Facebook’s policies, and to a larger degree, the way that hyper-targeting individuals through social media can impact elections or other serious issues.
What does this mean for my marketing?
There is growing discontent about how data is used to deliver information. Consumers are rightfully noting that there is a difference between strategic targeting and an unauthorized use of data. Legal marketers in today’s environment need to do a few things to ensure they are protecting themselves:
- Work with data buyers, direct mail suppliers, and email providers to develop plans for how data will be used – and then be diligent about following up and sticking to those plans.
- Ensure that any data you’re accessing is not able to be used for possible discrimination based on race, religion, or other factors which are generally illegal.
- Begin doing what direct mail list managers do: include some seed records that will allow you to monitor how lists are being used, and discover if any terms of your agreements are being violated.
Can social media marketing for law firms still be highly targeted?
Facebook is facing down a trend of users finding other platforms for their social media use. Nevertheless, billions of people use Facebook, and millions more use other social media to share information and stay in touch. It stands to reason that advertising through these channels will remain an important part of your marketing mix.
However, following the scandal, Facebook shut down various analytics tools that made their advertising extremely effective. Marketers should understand that they will have less data inputs to work with, and extremely targeted ads will be a thing of the past for many firms. Facebook began by eliminating data collected from third-party miners, which means many items like keyword-based interests and credit card spending habits won’t be accessible for marketers.
Recently, they removed four targeting options that our clients found particularly beneficial: education, employer, field of study, and job title. Next, they’ll be phasing out partner categories that leverage information like home ownership or investments, leaving advertisers six months to restructure their targeting efforts.
Perhaps just as importantly, marketers will need to give more consideration to how they gather data from social platforms so that they don’t invade privacy or wrongly use information from users. The ease-of-use once enjoyed by social media advertisers has changed forever, and law firms will need to spend more time developing their campaigns and working on building consumer trust to see the same ROI.
We’re big believers in social media marketing for law firms- but there are some new tips and tricks to remain impactful and effective. Trust is the backbone of good client relationships, especially for lawyers which is why law firms need to take even more caution when it comes to privacy on social media. If you need some guidance to understand the new landscape affecting social media, let us know!