Continuing the social media conversation

May 3, 2019 • 5 minute read

Social media is constantly evolving — with new capabilities, new ways to amplify content and new methods to engage with brands.

While social media is used across virtually every sector, it’s no secret that law firms and other professional services providers sometimes struggle to use available tools and implement winning digital strategies. Though it can be hard work to decide which platforms are appropriate, to navigate client sensitivities, and to get buy-in from key stakeholders, for firms that tap into its potential, social media has become an important tool in their legal marketing toolbelt.

That’s why we were excited to attend the Law Firm Media Professionals (LFMP) recent event “How Good Is Your Social Media Presence?” to learn some of the latest social media strategies being implemented by firms. Presenters Guy Alvarez, founder of Good2bSocial, Maya Koshaba, media digital strategist at Goodwin Procter LLP, and Natalie Alhonte Braga, international commercial business development manager at Baker McKenzie, discussed considerations for law firms when developing and executing a social media strategy.

The event’s takeaways are worth sharing with a larger audience.

Look to content for social media inspiration

When developing an effective social media strategy, look to content for inspiration. In the legal industry, the diversity of practice groups, cases and clients means that there are plenty of topics to tap into when developing content to promote on social media.

The panelists suggest maintaining a 3-to-1 ratio of client-centric content to promotional firm news to ensure that the content being pushed out is relevant. Marketers should not guess at what their target audience would like to read, but should view content through the lens of what will interest members of the media, clients and prospective clients who may view the firm’s social channels.

Another way to approach content development is to think of social media first. Consider the final form that the message will take when you start to develop content that will be posted across social channels. While most law firm professionals are comfortable with LinkedIn, other networks might be better for some messages. Visual elements such as photos and instructional videos might lend themselves better to certain types of content.

To achieve a successful social media strategy, content is the starting point. As Maya Koshaba explained during the panel discussion, content is the fire and social media is the gasoline.

Use social media to brand your law firm

Social media is an entry point to interact with a brand; it offers a direct way to tell a law firm’s story to the marketplace. Social media content should reflect the firm’s core values and aim to humanize the brand.

A key lesson from the LFMP panelists was that a firm’s brand on social media should be developed over time, and legal marketers should not turn to social media just to solve a problem with perception. Natalie Alhonte Braga noted that one of the biggest mistakes a firm can make is throwing stuff on social media when there is a problem with the brand and hoping it sticks.

To develop a social media strategy that communicates a law firm’s brand successfully across platforms, the messaging needs to focus on differentiating factors specific to the firm. What a firm posts and how it interacts with its followers can help the public understand its brand, image and messaging. For example, when a law firm uses specific hashtags for its posts, followers learn how to engage with the firm by using the same hashtags, which demonstrates an awareness of the brand.

The ultimate way to communicate a firm’s brand effectively through social media is to humanize the brand by getting humans to participate in the process.

Make engagement a part of your social media strategy

The final element the LFMP panelists highlighted for developing an effective social media strategy is a focus on engagement. Social media platforms should be treated as a form of two-way communication; if a firm is not listening, it is not fully engaged in communication.

Marketers should ask: For our firm, what is the purpose of engagement? The panelists pointed out that audiences often know when content is trying to engage just for engagement’s sake, rather than having a true purpose. Law firm marketers can use any number of listening and analytical tools to measure engagement and determine the best strategies for interacting with key audiences on social media.

Engagement also extends to internal participants — the attorneys and thought leaders within the firm who need to buy into the process.

When conducting social media training with attorneys, marketers should not only explain how posting works, but why it is important — whether it is to promote thought leadership, differentiate their practice areas, develop leads, etc. Using analytical tools, marketers can now point to how people made their way to the firm’s website and can help to track leads. One panelist commented that the easiest way to motivate attorneys to get involved in the process is to show what competitors are doing on social media.

Broadly speaking, professional services firms should use social media to be responsive to the world around them. Those firms that demonstrate they are great listeners to the legal landscape, the news cycle and the concerns of their clients often produce the most effective content and enjoy top engagement on social platforms.

The final takeaway from the panel was that conversations important to every firm are already happening on social media, and people will talk about a law firm whether or not it participates in the discussion. It is vital for marketers to learn what people are saying and ensure their firms’ messages are being heard.

Quick social media tips for law firms

  • Make sure the firm’s brand is consistent across channels, but tailored to the different platforms where content appears (e.g., use the same image but different text for LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • When developing content, maintain a 3-to-1 ratio of client-centric content to self-promotional information
  • Develop hashtags to teach audiences how to identify with your brand
  • Use free tools such as Hashtagify to learn what trending hashtags to use to join the conversation
  • Stick to two or three hashtags per post so that they remain effective
  • Consider social media publishing tools, such as LinkedIn Publisher, for full-length content that may not get picked up by the media
  • Manage content and help monitor social media platforms through marketing automation tools such as HubSpot, Marketo and Pardot
  • When developing video, consider posting a shorter teaser trailer on social media to drive traffic to your website and full-length content

Thank you to LFMP for hosting such an educational panel discussion.

Shannon Dempsey is a Senior Account Executive at Infinite Global, where she participates on the company’s internal social media team, helping to craft content and drive engagement. She can be reached at shannond@infiniteglobal.com

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