I fielded some tough questions about how lawyers can stop wasting time on social media marketing in this video interview with Catherine Moffitt of Cosgrove Associates (a consulting firm focused on law firm profitability and interim office management)! A summary follows.
QUESTION #1: Why should lawyers care about social media marketing?
It’s a good question. I think it’s on a lot of their minds. Despite the staggering numbers of lawyers and other professionals on LinkedIn, most aren’t doing too much. Nevertheless, the rare few who have really jumped on board have made tremendous use of social media to build their practices.
Compare social media to a trade show. Let’s say you were given tickets to this great trade show where your clients and referral network were expected to be. Why would you say no? It’s just lost opportunity.
QUESTION #2: Does social media marketing eat into billable hours?
Another good question. While social media marketing can (and does) eat into billable hours, there’s a good reason for it. Rather than directing efforts in a concerted manner, there seems to be a lot of frenetic energy out there. People are unsure what to do with the different sites, so they just post stuff and then they typically don’t get anything in return.
But you need a plan to be efficient, to direct actions towards goals.
Let’s switch gears to hockey as an analogy. When all the players on a hockey team are focused on the same thing, they move in the same direction and they get the goal. If they were willy nilly about it, someone running off to stretch, another saying hi to his wife… They wouldn’t win.
QUESTION #3: If done correctly, does it work for lawyers?
You said it, if done correctly! That means you’re not a wallflower. Nor are you (exclusively) self-promotional. If the only thing you do on social media marketing is say ‘hey look at me I got published’ or ‘I’m speaking at such and such’…., no, you’re not going to be successful. Returning to our earlier comparison to a networking event, if someone sincerely listens and asks good questions, he will leave with good connections. The same idea applies to social media. So, if the people are there and you go in with a good attitude and a plan, of course it would work. Why wouldn’t it?
QUESTION #4: Should lawyers that aren’t comfortable doing this outsource it?
- To define message and style ie the key to getting others to connect, whether it be by way of thought leadership, humour, being provocative or other.
- To tie the social media marketing strategy to the vision for the practice.
- To write descriptions for the people and the firm.
- To develop a strategy for posts, in order to maintain authenticity and not just be posting for the sake of it.
When you do that work, you get comfortable. Firstly, you know what you’re doing, so you’re not out of your element. And you’re satisfied that you’re presenting an appropriate and suitable, professional identity. That doesn’t mean everyone will like you online. Some will and some won’t. That’s fine. No marketer would ever suggest that lawyers should sell to everyone. They’ll get a lot farther defining a specific bull’s eye market and developing a strategy their market will relate and respond to.
QUESTION #5: What are the best social media marketing sites for lawyers?
- Where are your connections today?
- Who is your target market? What are they doing online?
- Who is on your team now? Are they excited about video marketing? Speaking engagements? Writing? Instead of establishing blanket expectations for everyone on the team eg x blogs or seminars per month, take into account the talents of your team. It will help to make the firm’s goals achievable.
QUESTION #6: How do you know if it’s working?
It’s tricky! Think about going to a networking event. How do you measure if that worked? Do you count the number of business cards you gave out? The number of people you spoke to? There are lots of analytics available on social media. But, at the end of the day, the most important thing to know is if you converted online efforts to offline connections. For example, you could have a relatively small following online and have deeper engagement with those people. Maybe you met more of them. Collaborated on work. Gave referrals to each other. Started groups together… That’s how to turn social media marketing into real life connections that help to build a law practice.
QUESTION #7: How can lawyers set themselves up for success?
First lawyers should decide what is success for them because it’s not the same for everyone. Then they need to put a plan in place, starting with best marketing practices applied to a flagship project. It could be a good logo, tagline, website, brochure, presentation… Regardless what the project is, it needs to be strategic about messaging ie so the firm knows what it wants to say about itself at the highest level, by area of practice and by professional. Once established, this clarity and consistency transfers into social media marketing, whereby each individual on the team will have their own professional personality but all efforts streamline to the same message.
Though it might seem like a shortcut, aggressively moving forward with social media marketing won’t make up for skipping these steps.
The bottom line is that lawyers should decide if they really want to make a success of social media marketing. If the answer is yes, then they should take it as seriously as any other professional effort and develop a plan and strategy aligned with the firm’s goals.