Social media marketing for lawyers cannot be discussed without mentioning LinkedIn. Known as the “professional social network,” LinkedIn is one of the online marketing tools lawyers fear least, although it has undergone some significant changes over the past several years. In contrast to apps like Pinterest and Snapchat, lawyers are likely already using LinkedIn to some extent or at least already have a profile created with some LinkedIn connections – which means the learning curve for LinkedIn marketing is much smaller. And if you are on it, your colleagues are probably already on it too.
LinkedIn remains the most popular social network for lawyers. According to the 2016 ABA Legal Technology Survey report, more than 93% of lawyers surveyed use LinkedIn, with large firm attorneys relying on it the most. Despite its widespread adoption and use, most lawyers remain unsure of how to get the most out of LinkedIn. As with any form of marketing, the best method of use can vary by lawyer, but everyone should start off with a plan.
LAWYERS ON LINKEDIN NEED DEFINED MARKETING GOALS
Before I start any marketing endeavor, I consider why I am choosing the particular format. For LinkedIn, the answers generally include things like retaining relationships with existing personal and professional contacts, hiring new talent, finding news relevant to my job, developing my individual lawyer brand, establishing my expertise, and seeking out new, valuable professional contacts. Your LinkedIn Profile serves as your online resume or CV and your LinkedIn Company Page serves as a law firm directory listing.
For lawyers working solo or in a firm, not having a LinkedIn Profile makes you appear outdated to potential clients and referral sources. Maintaining an active LinkedIn profile takes time and effort, though, and you need to understand the platform’s features before you can use it effectively.
LINKEDIN MARKETING PLAN: BUILD, CONNECT, AND PARTICIPATE
I like to tell lawyers if they are going to use social media, they need to be present in a meaningful way. That starts with building out your Individual Profile. Some important tips for building out an attractive, credible LinkedIn profile include:
- Use a recent, high-resolution profile picture and a pertinent background image.
- Craft a vanity URL.
- Link your entries in the sections for Experience and Education to the actual Company Pages of the entities for greater social proof.
- Get recommendations, but note that while recommendations are great they may come with potential ethical pitfalls. Some bar associations discourage attorneys from accepting recommendations or anything that can be construed as an endorsement.
- Change your privacy settings to public once your profile is complete. Doing this makes your profile searchable via LinkedIn’s platform, Google, and other search engines.
- To premium or not to premium? LinkedIn has premium account options for a fee, but the free version of LinkedIn has many features and benefits for lawyers, whether they are practicing on their own or within a law firm. I recommend mastering the free version before investing money in the premium account features.
Once your Individual Profile is completely built out and looking fabulous, you can start to make meaningful connections. But how do you find the right people to connect with? LinkedIn has a variety of methods for finding and connecting you with your target audience. The Advanced Search tools let you search by keyword, company size, industry, location, and more. Or, if you know a law firm or other business you’re trying to connect with, it is smart to take a look at their LinkedIn Company Page to see who in your network works at the company, who in your network knows someone who works there, or to use the information to make real-life connections. Some tips for making the right connections on LinkedIn include:
- Let LinkedIn scrub your email addresses for potential connections, but don’t connect with all of them at once – do it strategically over time starting with the most important relationships.
- Connect to people you already know on LinkedIn to provide another way to stay in contact, to receive updates about what they are doing, or to provide them with information.
- Make sending invitations to connect on LinkedIn a regular part of your follow up after meeting a new contact in-person.
- Don’t forget to personalize every invitation to connect you send on LinkedIn to increase the likelihood your invitation will be accepted.
The final and most challenging component of an effective LinkedIn legal marketing strategy is the requirement you participate regularly on the network. A wonderful method to share firm wide information is to create, build out, maintain, and update a LinkedIn Company Page for your law firm. You can engage with other LinkedIn users by:
- Keeping your Individual Profile and Company Page updated, because every time you make an edit or update, LinkedIn lets your connections know, keeping you top of mind. Likewise, you can congratulate connections on profile updates, new jobs, milestones, and birthdays (you can get these notifications as emails or in-app).
- As mentioned in the previous section, you should continue to engage in audience building by “connecting” with contacts on a regular basis after your initial on boarding efforts.
- Keep it professional – LinkedIn users are not looking to see albums of you and your family, just the information you would put on a résumé or share with a professional colleague.
- Join relevant groups and participate in conversations.
- Curate and share relevant knowledge on both your Company Page and Individual Profile. Sharing your Company Page’s updates on your individual LinkedIn profile is a great way to build your Page’s following and highlight your firm’s accomplishments in an organic manner.
- LinkedIn is now a publishing platform so if you haven’t sprung for a website and/or blog for your law firm, you can write and publish articles here.
- Use video – Some experts are saying the best opportunity for attorney personal brand building on social media in 2018 is LinkedIn video. LinkedIn video was made available to most users in August 2017, and LinkedIn is making a hard push into the video space; therefore, if you make and post video content (for example a webinar or a short “how to” tutorial) on LinkedIn, it’s likely to be widely distributed and viewed.
A final component of really using LinkedIn correctly involves taking the conversation offline at some point. How do you transition from liking updates and congratulating work anniversaries to hanging out in person? For starters, you can export your LinkedIn data, including email addresses for all of your connections. With that information, you can and should engage in email marketing, set up in-person meetings, and invite connections to connect with you elsewhere online, e.g. your Facebook Page.
LINKEDIN MARKETING SOUND LIKE TOO MUCH WORK? WE CAN HELP!
Stacey E. Burke, P.C. focuses heavily on social media marketing for law firms. We work exclusively in the legal industry and have set up, curated content for, managed, and updated Individual LinkedIn Profiles and Company Pages for lawyers and law firms of every size and practice area. Contact us today to talk about how we can help.