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The dark side of lawyer social media

By Samantha Collier

As you know, I like to go against the grain in the social media for law firms realm. I’m taking my advice and blogging about something that nobody wants to talk about – the downside of using social media for legal marketing.

1. Social media isn’t a silver bullet

Social media for law firms veteran Adrian Dayton said it best:

Will social media make you a rainmaker? Sadly, no. It takes a certain skill set to bring in business- and proficiency in more than just tweeting. You have to be able to set goals, take conversations offline, follow up and have the experience to close the deal.

Social media marketing is traditional marketing done online; the same rules apply. If you’re a good networker at offline events, social media marketing will come naturally to you.

If you’re an introvert (like me), social media can be a bit overwhelming when it’s time to take the conversation offline. If you’re a jerk to your clients offline, I suggest skipping social media. Social media reviews are taken very seriously when vetting lawyers.

2. Social media will not bring in “X” number of clients in “X” days

Are you on the market for a new social media for law firms social media specialist? Ask them how many new clients you should expect in the first month. If they give you a number, run for the hills. 

Social media (similar to traditional marketing) is a long-term strategy. It should integrate with all of your offline marketing efforts (TV, conference attendance, charity events, media appearances, etc.). Social media amplifies all the positive aspects of your firm. Do you have a yearly charity event? Take pictures and share it on Facebook. As you know, lawyers can seem intimidating and sharing pictures like these bridges the gap.

Realistically, it will take you three to six months to create a social media presence that brings in new work. Creating a successful social media presence across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram takes time, creativity and content. Having a great Facebook page makes it easy for people to refer you on Facebook… and people ask for recommendations on Facebook all the time.  Your potential clients want to see a consistent social media and web presence – it might tip the scales in your favour if your competitor dropped the digital marketing ball.

3. Social media marketing ethics & compliance issues

 

Legal advertising is regulated by bar associations and law societies to protect consumers and lawyers. Every state and province has their own set of guidelines. Skunkworks has a great blog post about Ontario’s advertising rules you can check out here. Florida State University’s guide is pretty in-depth as well.

Ross Weldon wrote an excellent post about the do’s and don’ts of social media for lawyers. His tips include:

Don’t post anything false or misleading

Don’t solicit clients directly, and know when you’re advertising

Don’t connect with people on social media under false pretenses

Be mindful of creating lawyer-client relationships

Don’t send confidential information via social media

4. Social media success is hard work and is time-consuming

When it comes to social media marketing, you have two options. Keep it in-house or hire a specialist. There are pros and cons of each that we’ll discuss in a different post. Personally, it’s been my experience that a combination of the two is the most successful. An outside consultant can do all the technical stuff (how to resize pictures for social posts, how to craft updates for different platforms, etc.) while the in-house team ensures consistent branding and messaging. I like to become the firm’s in-house social media department.

Overall, creating a successful social media strategy that brings in new clients takes time, dedication and input from all the partners. Everyone in the firm should be educated about the firm’s social media strategy.

For example, do you want employees listing the firm as their place of work on Facebook for everyone to see? Do you want people to “check-in” at the firm so their friends see where they are? Should employees share firm posts? I recommend that lawyers DON’T all share the same post at the same time. These are just some of the questions your strategy will answer. Strategies should be re-evaluated quarterly as well.

Social media requires a large time investment. As a lawyer, you need to understand the lingo, so you don’t get the wool pulled over your eyes about benchmarks, wins, etc.

There are a variety of social media tools like HootsuiteSproutSocial and Canva to save you time when it comes to the actual posting. You can read more about my favourite graphic design tools here.

Conclusion

The positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to lawyers using social media to market their practice. Lawyers need to educate themselves about realistic social media goals and milestones, adhere to advertising rules, devise a strategy (in-house or consultant) and be in it for the long-haul.

Resources

Do you believe in social media? – Adrian Dayton, ClearView Social Founder

The do’s and don’t’s of social media for lawyers – Ross Weldon, EMEA marketing manager a Legal Futures Associate Clio

Ontario legal marketing rules – David MacLean, Skunkworks

#LetsAskNancy 001- Lawyers: Client Names In Pitches…To List or Not To List? – Nancy Myrland, Myrland Marketing & Social Media

Read More at Social Media for Law Firms Blog

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