Recently I spoke with a friend who is quite savvy about social media and works in the business development function at a major law firm. During our call he complained about the lack of understanding of social media marketing, not just in his firm but in the entire legal industry.
“Guy“, he told me, “you don’t understand how bad it is. At the Legal Marketing Association meeting last month in Orlando, one of the speakers on a panel actually told the audience that all they needed to focus on is LinkedIn.”
I had to chuckle. I hear variations on the same thing all the time from clients and prospects. When I ask law firms what they are doing on the social media marketing front, they invariably tell me that their primary focus is working with lawyers to fill out their profiles on LinkedIn. To most firms, that is their social media strategy.
Don’t get me wrong, I think LinkedIn is a great place for marketing and business development — even though most lawyers and law firms don’t really understand how to use it effectively. This is particularly true since LinkedIn has undergone significant changes over the last month, including removing services on company pages, adding showcase pages, introducing the LinkedIn content marketing score and trending content and perhaps most importantly for lawyers opening up their publishing platform for all members. These changes have a significant impact on the way law firms can and should use LinkedIn to raise awareness of their experience and services and generate new leads.
But even with these expanded opportunities on LinkedIn, law firms need to think beyond this single platform when it comes to their social and digital strategies. Law firms need to leverage all social networks in order to reach their target audience. The challenge is figuring out the right networks to use for each particular campaign or effort. For example, if a law firm is interested in reaching international clients, then leveraging the size and power of Google+ or reach of Twitter likely provides a more effective solution than LinkedIn.
The fact is that there are less law firms using Google+ than there are on LinkedIn. Google+ is the second largest social network and similar to LinkedIn it has thousands of thriving communities (the equivalent of groups on LinkedIn). Therefore the ability for a law firm’s content to stand out and be noticed by prospects and clients may be significantly better on Google+. In addition, law firms posting content on Google+ has the ancillary benefit of helping them achieve higher search rankings.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that reporters and the media constantly monitor Twitter for ideas and trends. They look for interesting content and frequently contact lawyers who they deem have specific knowledge or expertise in a particular subject area or industry trend. If a law firm or lawyer is looking to have exposure through traditional media channels and develop press relations, then it becomes critical for a firm to deploy a Twitter strategy to develop a following amongst reporters and influencers.
Furthermore, law students are typically not active on LinkedIn. So if the goal of a law firm campaign is to attract top talent from law schools, then the firm should be posting content on the social networks that Millennial law students prefer to use. Facebook, Instagram, Vine and YouTube are the social networks of choice for the connected generation and firms that are looking to make a connection with these students need to develop strategies and content to reach them on these networks.
Finally, law firms need to look at their own websites. This is really the centerpiece of your firm’s digital strategy; it’s where prospects or clients will go after they see your post on LinkedIn or any other social network. If your website is not optimized for mobile or social and if the content on your website is stale and boring, then all of your firm’s activity on social networks will likely be for naught. Law firms need to understand that social networks are content distribution channels where you can begin to form relationships and influence. However, if your firm is looking to develop trust, then the firm’s website and micro sites are the critical place to focus your efforts.