It was an eye opening experience - it’s amazing how often a crisis can be averted by a little forward planning and a liberal dash of common sense.
Part of the evening involved discussing the risks involved in putting yourself out there on social media platforms and how best to manage those risks. It’s a hot topic at the moment, recent social media account hackings and high-profile mis-tweets highlight the importance of ensuring that your firm’s social assets are secure and in safe hands. With more and more firms recognising the value of social media marketing and as such increasing their use of social platforms, awareness of the risks associated with social media has never been greater.
Indeed, leading social dashboard Hootsuite has recently launched HootSuite Security Services to help clients “safely deploy social across departments and geographies and protect their brands from the costly mess that results from a social media crises”.
According to Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter, a research and advisory firm helping those challenged by business disruptions, a large percentage of social media crises are avoidable: “76% of social media crises could have been diminished, or altogether prevented, had companies been prepared internally with the right training, processes, roles, and software”.
This got me thinking about how our clients in the legal sector use social media and how we help them manage the inherent risks involved with social media marketing so that they can better reap the rewards.
The risks involved with social media marketing for law firms
When we discuss social media with lawyers, lack of resource is often cited as the main reason for their reluctance to open these potentially huge doors of opportunity. We encourage our clients to update their networks as part of their working day and to make use of mobile devices to do so to help save time (read our ‘5 tips for lawyers to use Linkedin effectively on the go’ post from last month). There are more than 200 million business people talking to one another on Linkedin, for example, that’s a lot of potential sources of business to ignore
Lack of Strategy
Whilst we encourage people to dive in and embrace social media wholeheartedly, we recommend doing so within the controlled confines of a pre-determined strategy. For example, you should consider:
- Who you want to target?
- Where they are?
- How you will get in front of them?
- What you are going to say to them?
- How you will harmonise your message firm wide?
- How you will develop relationships with your target audience.
- How you will maximise cross selling opportunities.
A lack of strategy will lead to a lack of results, which in turn will lead to a lack of engagement. A lack of engagement will lead to poorly maintained profiles which can do as much damage to your reputation as having no presence at all.
Blurring of professional/personal use
If more than one person in your organisation is tweeting, posting to a Linkedin company page, sharing updates on Facebook or Google+ etc, it is important that the tone of voice you use to engage with your audience is consistent, and that individual personalities don’t supersede the personality of your brand. This is where a social media policy is essential.
Lack of control over message
Larger organisations will have brand manuals which help ensure that overarching core values, vision, mission, etc. are always front of mind when engaging with clients and prospects. Smaller firms might not have the luxury of having somebody to create, maintain and ensure stakeholders are familiar with a brand manual, but never the less, knowing what your brand stands for is important before opening the social door. (NB - Moore Legal Technology can help you undertake a brand audit and develop brand and style guides).
Legal risks and liability
As the only non-qualified lawyer in MLT (a fact I’m regularly reminded of. In my defence, I more than make up for any perceived intellectual inferiority through the oodles of charm and polish I bring to the team), I am perhaps not the best person to remind you of your legal responsibilities where social media is concerned. Over to you, Gavin…
“Thanks Chris, and don’t be so hard on yourself. We need you to help keep us grounded. This isn’t the platform to go into too much detail, but, as well as being aware of the terms and conditions attached to the various social media platforms you may be using, it is important to remember that all professional responsibilities apply regardless of the medium of communication. I should stress how important it is for law firms and in-house legal teams to have a social media policy in place for partners and staff. Individuals considering using social media in any way related to their work should check whether a policy is in place, and, if not, may want to discuss issues in this note in advance with an appropriate manager and document that discussion”.
For further guidance, visit:
- (Scotland) http://www.lawscot.org.uk/socialmediaguidance
- (England & Wales) http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/advice/practice-notes/social-media/
- (General advice for consumers) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20782257
The rewards attached to social media marketing for law firms
Scared yet? Fear not, Moore Legal Technology can help you manage the inherent risks that come with including social media in your digital marketing strategy. We can help you develop your social media strategy and social media policy. We can deliver on-site social media training. We can implement and manage campaigns on an ongoing basis. We can help you to build and engage with a relevant following while monitoring activity surrounding your name ensuring that any negative sentiment is dealt with efficiently. With somebody else managing the risk for you, you can focus on leveraging the rewards which come with having a consistent, integrated approach to social media marketing. These include:
- Increased engagement with clients and prospects
- Recognition as a thought leader in your chosen area of practice
- An increase in traffic to your website, the hub of your online marketing activities
- A high ranking in organic search
- A dramatic increase in your potential sources of business
In summary, as the legal sector continues to constrict and the economy flounders, it makes sense to utilise every tool at your disposal to generate new business.
Being good at social media will help. As somebody far more intelligent than me (probably a qualified lawyer) once said, “If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door".
Social media, optmised website design, content marketing and link building - Dominating the online space
Lastly, I should stress that social media is just one of the tools at your disposal when it comes to enhancing your online presence and helping you generate more business online. We recommend an integrated approach to online marketing. A well designed, properly optimised website implemented on a search engine friendly content management system together with an ongoing programme of content marketing and link building will help you to dominate the online space relevant to your service offering and, ultimately, help you win new business. For a full audit of your online marketing activities, please contact us today.