A colleague and I recently hosted a seminar for our trainees, sharing tips on how to become part of ‘the conversation’ of social media.
Online marketing is an essential platform for firms and in recent years there has been a shift from traditional methods of advertising to firms building more direct relationships with clients online. Social media is a cost-effective forum which enables people to connect, converse and exchange content; and in this market it is vital for firms to become part of the conversation. It presents a great opportunity for firms to reach clients instantly, avoiding the need to communicate through traditional media such as newspapers.
The advantages of engaging in social media are that it can raise a firm’s profile, push it up search engine rankings, drive traffic back to its website, engage clients, overcome geographical borders, establish dialogue with professionals and illustrate expertise. However, social media use must be strategic and the types of social media channels a firm uses must be in line with its business development strategy.
A word of caution: when engaging in social media check you don’t fall foul of any regulatory requirements or your firm’s social media policy. Social media activity should be monitored and authorised by firms. Our firm has a social media policy that must be adhered to.
Firms are spoilt for choice when it comes to expanding their ‘social reach’. Here are the main ways firms (and you!) can get involved:
Most firms will have a company page and most of their people have a personal profile. Solicitors at our firm have in fact been contacted by clients who viewed their profile on LinkedIn. Firms should add lots of information about the services provided and use ‘keywords’ which people would search on the internet. The point is to ultimately feed traffic back to the firm’s website.
The purpose of LinkedIn is to increase credibility and visibility; LinkedIn profiles rank high on the search engine when individual names are searched. It is essentially your online CV, which gives clients and recruiters a way to research you. If you decide to join, ensure that you create a captivating and full profile. You can get involved by sharing updates, joining interest groups, starting or joining discussions and creating events. You can connect with other professionals and build referral relationships. Solicitors can get recommendations from clients and showcase expertise by answering questions posed on particular groups. As LinkedIn is a channel widely used by employers and recruiters, it is beneficial for you to regularly update your profile in the way you would your CV.
Twitter is something which some firms engage in regularly. This microblogging platform again helps send more traffic to a firm’s website and increases rankings on the search engine. You can tweet 140 characters or less which keeps tweets short and engaging. Tweets are visible to the public and searchable on the internet, so again look to use keywords. Twitter is a way for firms to display what they are getting up to and engage in conversation with their followers by tweeting interesting content such as photos, videos, news topics and industry trends. Firms can retweet things going on in their local community and engage with local businesses, respond to tweets and show personality.
A lot of firms now have a Twitter feed on their website, which is updated in real-time. You can set up your own Twitter account, customise it and tweet about interesting topics, thereby building your online presence and reputation.
Blogging is a regular activity in most law firms. It is about creating key content that people want to read and share. The goal is to raise brand awareness and again aid search engine rankings. It is important to firms to create unique content that sets them apart from competitors. Ideally someone from all practice areas within a firm should blog, at least once a month. Tips for blogging are don’t use too much legal jargon, use keywords and aim for shorter pieces which will keep readers interested. Always think about your ‘ideal client’ when blogging and keep in mind that it is ultimately a marketing initiative, which hopes to translate into client instructions, rather than an academic exercise.
As content is increasingly shifting from print to digital, videos are becoming more popular. Firms can, therefore, create a customised YouTube channel for videos. YouTube can be used to post advertising campaigns and firms can use keywords so videos are more visible when people search online. Videos can be embedded into blogs and a firm’s website can be linked from its Youtube channel. Often, video duration will be less than two minutes so that the viewer remains engaged.
Most firms have a Facebook page, which is a general interest social media channel. Firms will often post pictures of events and charity initiatives on their page. They can also use the channel to manage advertisement campaigns, join networks and share content with people in the industry. Again, the aim here is to drive traffic back to a firm’s website and improve search engine visibility. Facebook is another way for firms to express personality and promote their brand in a creative way.
Now it’s time for you to join the conversation. #GetTalking!
Sej Lamba is a trainee solicitor at Hanne & Co. Read all her Business of Law blogs for Lawyer 2B.
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