For lawyers who remain reluctant to use social media, for reasons including an inability track return on investment via traditional means, the time has come to get over it. Greater social signals can not only drive inbound traffic to your website, but they can also help your law firm rank higher in search results. While some dispute the connection between social signals and organic rankings, social signals already impact search visibility.
Google and the other search engines have already implemented new ways to incorporate social media posts in search results. I mentioned one of these new methods in “Google Now Shows Tweets in Search Results,” back in August. Interest in social media is also picking up among lawyers as that blog post ranked in the top ten most read posts according to the Texas Bar.
Google will continue to increase the visibility of social media posts in its search results in 2016, as social media usage continues its stronghold as the top Internet activity, even beating out gaming. In simpler terms, if you want to reach everyone, you have to try everything – and social media is one of the cheapest and easiest-to-use options.
LinkedIn Should Be First
While LinkedIn has been around for over 12 years, two new users join every second and the social network has over 380 million users and climbing (107 million of those are in the United States alone). It remains the default businessperson’s social network and it can potentially save introverts from having to do real-life event networking, as one in three professionals is on LinkedIn.
According to the American Bar Association’s 2014 Legal Technology Report, 99% of individual lawyers from firms of 100 or more have a profile, and that percentage stays above 90% for every size firm thereunder. If you are present, you should be meaningfully present – build out your profile, use a high-resolution professional headshot, complete all available sections, and create a custom URL for yourself.
In addition to having a LinkedIn personal profile, your law firm should have a Company Page, you should join Groups, and you should provide updates on both your personal profile and your law firm’s Company Page.
Ten Reasons Lawyers Use LinkedIn:
- Competitive intelligence research
- Recruitment and hiring
- Building a client base
- Searching for jobs
- Establishing expertise
- Maintaining contact with professional contacts you know in real life
- Gaining information about potential clients and relevant industries
- Looking good when clients and others look for you on LinkedIn or online in general
- Exporting LinkedIn contacts to market to them in other ways
- Social media can be used as evidence in your clients’ cases
Facebook Matters Most
Facebook drives at least 23% of all traffic across the entire Internet. Many of your target audiences are therefore most active on Facebook. 30% of Americans get their news exclusively from Facebook. 70% of Facebook users log on daily, including 43% who log on multiple times each day.
In order to have a Law Firm Facebook Page, someone must be the Page Administrator. Many lawyers are personally active on Facebook and can serve as at least one of the Admins themselves. Other lawyers are reluctant to use the social network for a variety of reasons ranging from privacy to disinterest.
For the record, no matter what you have read or heard, no one can see who viewed his or her personal Facebook profile, even with third-party applications. It is, however, very difficult to delete your account and even if done correctly, it can take months to fully remove yourself from the social network. So, if you are not an active Facebook user and do not want to set up a personal profile, what can you do? You have a few options – (1) you can create a dummy profile to manage your Page, linked to a firm email address, (2) you can set up a Facebook Business Manager account and have that account be your Admin (this is not for the technologically challenged), or (3) you can use someone else’s account - like an external service provider or your office manager - to manage the Page.
Facebook not only increases brand awareness for your law firm and drives inbound traffic to your website, it also allows you another digital communication opportunity with your clients. At least 33% of customers prefer to contact brands on social media. I have seen law firm clients send in accident scene photos, requested documents, important case updates, and complaints via Facebook messages. Facebook, if used correctly, can help your business provide superior customer service and improve client retention.
Set Realistic Goals
Your law firm cannot know whether its social media marketing (or any form of marketing for that matter) is successful without setting goals and measuring your progress toward them. At least one survey found that 41% of respondents had absolutely no idea what impact social media was having on their business. Most businesses just publish content hoping for the best, including law firms – someone at the firm or a service provider shares information on their social channels without a strategy and without monitoring the results.
Law firm social media goals should include set percentage increases for key performance indicators and specified deadlines. Some metrics will be best tracked each week, some each month, and some each quarter.
Law Firm Social Media Goals Can Include:
- Increase the law firm’s Facebook Page Likes by a certain percentage each month.
- Increase the reach of Facebook Page Posts by a certain percentage each month.
- Respond to social media communications more quickly (ideally within 24 hours).
- Increase your law firm website’s referral traffic from all social media channels by a certain percentage each quarter.
- Increase Twitter engagements (@ mentions, favorites, and retweets) by a set percentage every month.
Law Firm Social Media Marketing
While this post primarily focuses on LinkedIn and Facebook, many other social networks are relevant to your law practice. If you would like to continue the dialogue, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @staceyeburke.