Not sure where to begin with social media, some law firms dabble in Twitter or LinkedIn, may run a blog, or rely on a couple of partners who have an emerging online presence. Sound OK?
Not really. The result of an unfocused approach is usually three or four lackluster channels which may not complement each other and don’t say much about the firm, other than it has failed to grasp the online market.
Fortunately, the advent of social media has led to virtually free marketing and lead generation. There is really no reason not to use it, other than unfamiliarity with the platforms.
Social media marketing may seem overwhelming. But really, the main problem lies in the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. So what are the right options for your firm?
Review Your Audience & Your Tool Kit
The first step is a social media audit. The information gleaned there will guide the firm’s efforts, staking out a clear path for whom to communicate with and how. This audit will provide data for a very specific plan that an experienced marketing staff can execute.
An audit is a sophisticated look at a firm’s size, focus, client base, key practices, region of practice, competitors, and desired audiences. An audit will identify how to strengthen communication and relationships with existing clients while opening up avenues for communication to referral sources and potential new clients.
The best audits point the way to channels and styles of communicating that resonate with your brand and reputation. It also includes an analysis of best practices of competitors, which will show your team what has worked in their market and what hasn’t. The idea is not to copy a competitor’s strategy but to learn from their mistakes and successes and then forge a winning strategy with a unique voice.
One Account, or Several Specialized Accounts?
Audits help firms make decisions such as whether to rely on internal or external media, such as a company blog versus LinkedIn. Additionally, the audit can guide decisions about the breadth of social media use, e.g., one Twitter account for the entire firm or accounts for each practice group. It will identify the benefits of having media-adept lawyers manage their own accounts and indicate how they can interact with a firm’s corporate account.
An audit should include a review of how the firm and its lawyers are using LinkedIn. That can advise whether to explore starting a firm LinkedIn group and show the value of having lawyers publish there.
Holistic reviews that consider the larger marketplace will often reveal hidden opportunities. Firms with very strong brands that are thought leaders in management or diversity, for instance, can explore whether to tweet their wisdom through an account tailored to those topics.
Even firms with successful social media strategies should conduct a semi-annual audit of current practices to identify opportunities they have not yet exploited. It also allows for regular review of all content, and takes some of the sting out of dumping what’s not working. Killing a lackluster blog becomes much easier when it is part of a standard review process.
If firms are unfamiliar with the analytics used to measure social media success, it may be advisable to hire an outside consultant. Don’t think of a “routine” audit as expendable. Regular reviews keep firms on the cutting edge.