This article was first published by Howden Insurance Brokers, and is re-published here with permission.
Solicitors are risk averse by nature, and the perceived risks of social media marketing can put a lot of law firms off. However, social media is becoming ever more prevalent in modern culture. This head-in-the-sand approach could mean law firms without a social media marketing strategy are missing out on a good chunk of business.
According to an Ofcom survey published last year, 83% of adults go online in the UK; of these, 66% use social media. That’s almost 30 million adults in the UK using social media, which is nearly half of the total population. Sixty per cent of these people are checking social media more than once a day. These figures have grown since previous years, and are expected to continue to grow.
At Moore Legal Technology, we create and implement bespoke social media marketing strategies for law firms. Based on our wealth of experience, our social media marketing expert Stacy Nelson shares her insights. We look at the benefits of social media marketing for your law firm, and how you can manage your reputation online.
Find Stacy on Twitter: @Stacy_Nel
Benefits of social media marketing for law firms
1. Thought leadership
Many lawyers and professional services use Twitter as an information exchange for news and views in their relevant areas. Ask your fee-earners to provide comments on latest legal news and cases, which can be share through social media – a better strategy than just re-hashing other firm’s articles. It’s also worthwhile writing or commissioning unique content for your law firm’s website, to show visitors that you have your finger on the pulse.
By sharing your recent content and relevant news, you will be placing your law firm in a position of thought leadership among your peers and potential clients.
2. Increased search engine rankings
Search engines such as Google catalogue links to each specific website, and analyse the strength and value of these links. According to search engines, if people are sharing links to a website, that website must hold some value for the end user. Social networking sites such as Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook hold high value in these terms. For law firms, this means sharing links to your blogs and articles on social media will influence your search rankings, making it easier for clients to find you. Just make sure your web content and social media strategy reflects the areas you’re looking for business in!
For more information on how online content can generate business for you, click here.
3. Brand Awareness
Place content from your website in front of a targeted, valuable audience. With over 17 million UK adults checking their social media streams more than once every day, social media has become the new high-footfall advertising space. Social media allows you to target a specific audience, and share the benefits of your services with them.
Of course, social media is flooded with “bots” and other services and companies. It’s inevitable that many of your followers won’t become clients (or, indeed, might be trying to sell to you). How do you know you’re targeting the right audience, and that they’re actually listening? We would recommend targeting individuals in the local areas you service, by following them and engaging with them. Re-tweet their news and views on local issues, or respond to their queries if you can.
And if you do end up with lots of followers who aren’t “client material”, don’t worry. By engaging and sharing with those accounts too, you have the chance to leverage their networks. It only takes one new case to make the whole exercise worthwhile!
4. B2B Networking
Many of our legal clients claim that most of their new business comes via referrals. This is no reason not to be on social media! Social media gives you the chance to check in with your business contacts on a regular basis, sharing your news and comments on the latest developments in your sector. Keep up with your fellow alumni, or send an interesting article to the accountant who refers you work.
5. Build new business relationships
As well as networking with current contacts, social media presents an opportunity to easily connect with new people. For new hires, referrers of business and clients alike, an active and social online presence makes your law firm an attractive choice.
6. Increasing website visits with warm leads
What’s the different between someone who clicks onto your website from an active social media account, and someone who lands on your website after a Google search? The first is a warm lead. People who follow you on social media get to know your firm, and this influences their buying decisions once they’re on your site.
7. Online business generation for your law firm
Ultimately, the end goal of all online activity should be this and this alone: generating business for your law firm. This is the end benefit of your site ranking in search; of nurturing B2B relationships; of increasing your website’s traffic.
As well as generating new business, social media allows you to nurture relationships with current clients. From a position of thought leadership on social, your influence over key stakeholders and referrers of business improves. And once all the new business comes in, and old business is retained, you can use social media to advertise job opportunities at your firm!
Social Media Reputations Management for Law Firms
The benefits of social media are clear, but what about those risks? The main risks associated with social media marketing are human error – posting something you shouldn’t – and negative feedback.
I’ve put something on social media I shouldn’t have. What now?
From minor mistakes like spelling errors, to major ones like posting mis-timed messages after tragedies, it’s not the end of the world.
To begin with, it’s important to have processes and controls in place to limit these mistakes happening in the first place. Make sure you’re aware of current news before making a post, and if in doubt, search some keywords first. Make sure that anyone with access to your social media streams is trained in your brand tone and what is and isn’t acceptable on the company social media. Also, ensure you check in with any scheduled posts on a regular basis, to ensure the tone of the message hasn’t changed in light of any recent news.
If something does go out that shouldn’t, don’t panic. If the Tweet is truly terrible, you can delete it – but be careful! If someone has responded to the message before you get a chance to delete it, acknowledge the fact that you’ve deleted the message with something along the lines of:
“Thanks for letting us know! We’ve now deleted the message, apologies for any offence caused.”
If a few people have replied to or shared your message, it might be time to think about an official apology. Own up, explain, apologise, and do what you can to make it right. If you get this bit right, the resulting impact of how you dealt with the crisis can overshadow the mistake in the first place. See, for instance, the comments on this Facebook apology. People were falling over themselves to vouch for this law firm, who simply sent the wrong Tweet at the wrong time.
Someone’s left my law firm a bad review. Help!
Another major concern is that you can’t control what other people say on social media about your law firm. The truth of the matter is that people can say what they want on social media whether your law firm is online or not. The only difference is whether you’re there to see it!
The best way to tackle bad reviews online is prevention. If you’re providing the best service you can, with great customer service, you’re far less likely to be the victim of unhappy customers online.
That being said, flukes happen, and people aren’t always reasonable! But bad reviews could actually be good for your business. This is because it gives you a chance to showcase your excellent customer complaints process. Never delete a bad review, and never get your dirty laundry out in public. Whether or not your firm is in the wrong, always apologise, invite the customer to chat in private, and offer to fix it:
“We’re sorry you feel this way. We’d love to chat about how we can fix this for you. Can you contact us via email/direct message/phone, and we’ll work something out? As always, we appreciate the feedback – thank you!”
Read more about reputation management for law firms.
Online Business Generation for the Legal Sector
When it comes to online marketing for law firms, Moore Legal Technology are experts. We have 25 years of collective experience of making money online for law firms, as well as a handful of ex-lawyers on the team.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on social media marketing for law firms. What are you worries? What would you like to learn more about? Tweet us @Moore_Legal, or click here to contact us for a free audit of your online marketing strategy.