Tag Archives: social media

The 2018 Social Law Firm Index

Every year, towards the end of the year, Good2bSocial (www.good2bsocial.com) publishes a ‘Social Law Firm Index’. It is a study of digital marketing adoption, use, and best practices in the legal industry. The report aims to determine the effectiveness of law firms’ efforts and includes reviews and rankings of the US top law firms.  It assesses the firms’ publicly available thought leadership content, and measures social media reach, engagement, and marketing performance on specific social platforms, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Here are some of the highlights of the 2018 Social Law Firm Index.

Let’s start with some general observations on trends:

  • There still is an ongoing rapid increase in the use of digital technology and social media among law firms.
  • There also is a noticeable surge in video adoption. (See below).
  • Firms are maximizing the potential of interactive content:Interactive content is one of the best ways for law firms to facilitate engagement across digital channels like email and social media. In 2018, there was a trend towards interactive content such as free tools, polls, and surveys.
  • When it comes to the actual content, more firms are crafting client-centric thought leadership and social media content that aims to address client desires rather than simply touting a firm’s bona fides. (On Twitter, especially, there was a major increase in high-quality, non-promotional firm content.)
  • Compared to 2017, we can notice shifting priorities and shifting channels:Law firms are getting smarter about setting aside social platforms that don’t reach their target audiences or provide a return on investment. Facebook, which was hit by several scandals in the last year, in particular saw a major decline in use amongst firms.
  • There’s an increasing need for paid social. (See Below).

The study closely examines how firms are using digital platforms to communicate and amplify thought leadership. Good2bSocial believes that a law firm’s most valuable resource is its intellectual assets. They therefore define thought leadership as material that, for the purposes of business development, communicates to potential clients and others information about those assets. These communications can take the form of articles, client alerts, tool kits, videos, podcasts, and blogs.

The report also looked for what characterizes the best and worst performers. The best performing firms are demonstrating the greatest comprehensive adoption, integration, and use of social media and content marketing to market and grow their practices. Their messaging is coherent, consistent, and current across platforms, and best practices are evident at all stages of execution. They displayed the following characteristics, some of which were mentioned above in the general trends:

  • Video Takes Over: In 2017, 26% of law firms used it; in 2018, 36% does. Take content like testimonials, case studies, and blog posts, and turn them into videos for a more engaging way to connect with your target audience.
  • Interactive Content is Key: Use interactive content like polls, surveys, and free assessment tools to understand your clients and provide them with future content that you know they’ll find valuable.
  • Thinking like a Client: Use surveys and polls to inform your content strategy. You can’t write the right content if you don’t know what your clients or prospects care about.
  • Quality over Quantity: Aim for at least 70 percent of your social media messages to be original, non-promotional content like blog posts and client alerts.
  • Shifting Priorities and Shifting Channels: Analyse and measure which social networks are the most effective for your law firm. Then, prioritize the ones that bring you the highest ROI. While Facebook is still effective for law firms trying to reach consumers, corporate law firms are finding that they’re better off using LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Rise of Paid Social: Thirty percent of law firms surveyed reported using paid social in order to enhance the reach of their social media messages. Facebook and LinkedIn are equally popular choices when it comes to firms investing in sponsored content on social.

The characteristics of the worst performers, on the other hand, fall in two categories. First, there are the abandoned profiles, i.e. profiles on social media that are no longer updated. Secondly, there are all the missed engagement opportunities. The following best social media engagements practices were not observed:

  • Sharing blog content on social media channels: it’s not enough to publish a blog article. Let the world know about it on social media. This not only applies to new articles but also to older ones that are still relevant.
  • Employee Advocacy: Employee advocacy has the power to exponentially increase the reach of your law firm’s thought leadership content.
  • Engage / interact with others: like, retweet, comment, mention key influencers and thought leaders. Following social media best practices like influencer marketing, using hashtags, and posting content multiple times are too often forgotten and lead to missed opportunities for law firms to generate awareness and clients.

 

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Digital Marketing for Lawyers, part 2

This is a follow-up article to an article we published three months ago, which also dealt with digital marketing for lawyers. In it, we explained why digital marketing is important for lawyers and we also focused on some of the tools lawyers have at their disposal: websites, blogging, SEO, social media, reputation management and reviews.

Marketing often is something that lawyers see as a necessary evil. To make matters worse, online marketing is substantially different from traditional marketing. Some of this was discussed in our ‘Why Social Media Matter‘ article. In it, we explained that “the old ways of turning visitors into customers are not the most effective in an online paradigm. In the new online marketplace, everybody offering products or services must realise that they also are publishers, and that potential customers are content consumers. The way to turn website visitors into customers is to turn them into regular content consumers first.”

In this new marketplace, lawyers must publish websites and blogs, and engage with potential customers on social media. They must take things into account like user experience and website design; mobile functionality and local search presence. They have to focus on online intake of new clients, on customer service and client experience, as well as on reviews, reputation and authority. And most importantly, they have to work on how to turn website and blog visitors into regular content consumers, before they can be converted to clients.

So, practically speaking, where does one start? The first step is to know your audience and competitors. One of the advantages of the online marketplace is that we can have better access to all the pertinent data. We can learn who visits our website or blog, as well as who we are connected with on social media. This allows us to create visitor profiles, which then in turn allows us to better accommodate their wishes and expectations. It is important to keep the focus on potential customers, when determining what content to provide. At the same time, it is also important to keep track of what the competition is doing, so we can a) differentiate ourselves sufficiently, and b) remain competitive.

The next step is to then define an engagement strategy. The adage that content is king still applies. Know where your potential customers are on social media, and offer them relevant content. What has changed in 2017 is that the content people are looking for is no longer limited to quality text content. They also want visual content: infographics, e.g., are more popular than ever before, as is video content. So, make sure you use those. (In a future article, we’ll deal more in depth with content marketing specifically).

The way to further finetune your strategies and to find out what works for your law firm is, again, to diligently keep track of the relevant metrics. Find out what pages on your website and blog are popular. Discover how people found them. Learn what posts on social media led to visitors of your website and blog.

If you are familiar with some of the more traditional marketing techniques, then Teresa Matich’s article on “How to Take Your Old School Marketing Techniques Online” on the Wishpond blog can be useful. She illustrates how online marketing uses different tools, and that we have to move:

  • from business cards to websites: 96% of people with a legal issue turn to the Internet first, and nearly 40% of people needing a lawyer look on the Internet first to find one.
  • from public speaking to blogging: you build a reputation by publishing high quality articles on the Internet.
  • from the phone book to online ratings directories: people no longer just want to find a lawyer, they want to know whether he or she is any good, and they will look for online reviews.
  • from bus stop ads to Facebook ads: people looking for a lawyer spend just over a quarter of their time doing so on social media, so it makes sense to advertise on them.

 

Alex Barthet, a Miami based lawyer, gives some additional useful advice, based on his personal experiences with online marketing.

  • Claim your online profiles: online services like Google, Yelp, and Avvo let you create profiles. Often these are among the first places potential clients go looking.
  • Also claim your social profiles on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • Be careful with paid profiles: they usually offer very little extra value.
  • Use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising carefully, and make sure to determine a maximum budget that cannot be exceeded.
  • Don’t fall for sales pitches from marketing companies that want to lock you into long-term contracts.

 

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Social Media for Lawyers: an Introduction

In a previous article, we explained why social media matter for lawyers. Lawyers have been slow adopters when it comes to social media, but by now, a clear majority of them have caught on. In the US, 76% of lawyers use social media for professional purposes, and 74% of US law firms are present on Social Media.

What are they using social media for? According to a recently published report, lawyers use social media for several reasons, including career development and networking (73%), client development (51%), but also for education and current awareness (35%), and for case research and investigation (21%).

When it comes to who uses what, the available statistics are not consistent when it comes to the actual numbers, so we’ll use approximations below. The published statistics, however, do all agree on the ranking.

  1. LinkedIn is the most popular network, with approximately two out of three of law firms reporting a presence on LinkedIn. It is the medium of preference for large law firms.
  2. Facebook comes in second place, with, depending on the published data, one third to about half of the law firms saying they have a professional Facebook page. (Up to 90% of lawyers are on Facebook in a private capacity).
  3. Twitter is third in the rankings, with approximately one quarter of firms using it. Of the four main social media, it is the one that is most used for research and current awareness.
  4. Google Plus comes in last, with 10% of firms reporting a Google Plus presence.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the oldest network, and was launched in 2003. It is intended for professional networking. It was the first, and still is the largest “business social network”, meaning that is meant for professionals.

Because LinkedIn’s main goal is professional networking, most lawyers feel comfortable using it. One report states that, in the US, 91% of firms of 100 or more attorneys have a presence in LinkedIn. They are followed by 85% of solo practitioners, 76% of mid-sized firms with 10 to 49 lawyers, and 63% of smaller firms with 2 to 9 lawyers.

On LinkedIn, you can create a profile, which reads like a professional résumé. You can add contacts to build a network of connections. There are sections for skills & endorsements. You can create pages (like a mini website). You can publish a blog and/or articles. You can set up groups where you can have discussions.

LinkedIn comes in a free and a Pro version.

Facebook

Facebook was founded in 2004, and has been open to public at large since 2006. It is the largest social media network: in the fourth quarter of 2016, it had 1.8 billion active monthly users.

On Facebook, as an individual you can create a personal profile, which is not the case for legal entities. Most law firms therefore create ‘Pages’, which are like a mini website on Facebook. Pages can be ‘liked’, and you can invite people to do so. It is also possible to create ‘Groups’ on Facebook, to which you can add people to interact with. Both pages and groups can have posts; you also can add videos, and photos or images, etc.

Interestingly, the most active lawyers on Facebook for professional purposes are solos at 48%, followed by 41% of lawyers from small firms (2-9 attorneys). Mid-sized firms with 10-49 lawyers were next at 22%, with lawyers at firms with 100 or more lawyers coming in last, at only 16%.

Membership of Facebook is free.

Twitter

Twitter was launched in 2006, and is one of the ten most used sites in the world. It is often called the SMS of the Internet. It is an online news and social networking service where users post and interact with messages, which are called “tweets.” Tweets are restricted to 140 characters, and, as a rule, can be read by everyone (unless you make them private).

When you sign up to Twitter, you can choose to ‘follow’ other people, which means their tweets will appear in your (news) feed. The idea is to create your own followers who then get your tweets on their feed.

The strength of Twitter, however, lies in the use of so-called hashtags which allow to perform fast searches. A hashtag is a keyword or expression (without spaces!) which are preceded by a #-sign. Using the correct hashtags will make it easy for people who are not followers to find your tweets. If, e.g., you wrote an article on divorce, you could use #divorce and #lawyer as keywords when announcing your article on Twitter.

The largest pool of lawyers using Twitter can be found in mid-sized firms, with 26% maintaining a Twitter account, followed by 25% of solos, 25% of large firm lawyers, and 24% of small firm lawyers.

Membership of Twitter is free.

Google+

Google Plus is an interest-based social network that is owned and operated by Google. It was launched in 2011, as Google’s response to Facebook. Its functionality is fairly similar to that of Facebook: you can have pages and groups, where you can make posts, upload videos (YouTube) and photos, etc.

Membership of Google+ is free.

Other Social Media

Apart from the social media mentioned above, lawyers also use Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, mainly to share images and videos.

Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing site that allows its users to share pictures and videos either publicly or privately on the app, as well as through a variety of other social networking platforms. It was launched in 2010, and acquired by Facebook I 2013. Membership is free.

YouTube is a video-sharing site. It was started in 2005, and bought by Google in 2006. It comes in a free and paid version.

Pinterest is a photo-sharing website where you can organize them in virtual pinboards. Its CEO Ben Silbermann summarized the company as a “catalog of ideas,” rather than as a social network. It was launched in 2010.

 

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Why Social Media Matter

Generally speaking, lawyers tend to be slow to adopt new technologies. Social media are no exception: many lawyers still, and incorrectly, assume there are no real benefits to using social media. In previous articles, we discovered that the new legal consumer behaves differently, and operates in an online paradigm. A three-pronged approach was suggested to attract the new legal consumers. The keywords were: cultivate / offer / engage. Many websites focus mainly on the offer aspect. Social media play an important role in the both the cultivate and engage aspects.

In order to elaborate on this, it is good to pay some attention first to social media marketing in general. You probably already have a website, but somehow the percentage of visitors to your website that results in actual new customers is rather low. That is because the old ways of turning visitors into customers are not the most effective in an online paradigm. In the new online marketplace, everybody offering products or services must realise that they also are publishers, and that potential customers are content consumers. The way to turn website visitors into customers is to turn them into regular content consumers first.

In her book, The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue Shama Kabani explains the ACT Methodology for social media marketing: ACT is short for Attract – Convert – Transform.

act-methodology
ACT Methodology: Attract-Convert-Transform

A stands for Attract. You want to draw attention or stand out. Practically, this means attracting traffic to your website, as well as to your presence on social media. Needless to say, you need to be active on social media, if you want to use them as a channel to attract visitors.

C is for Convert. Conversion happens when you turn a stranger into a consumer or a customer. As mentioned above, there is a difference between the two. By converting a website or social media visitor into a content consumer, you create a relationship with him or her. Over time, this relationship increases the likelihood of that content consumer becoming a customer, provided you present them with quality content. The more is at stake, the longer this may take. This means that you constantly have to work to convert people into consumers and customers. Social Media are a great tool for turning strangers into content consumers.

T stands for Transform. Transformation is when you turn past and present successes into magnetic forces of attraction. In a previous article, we found out that many people looking for a lawyer consider online reviews and testimonials important. Indeed, testimonials and reviews by existing customers help attract and subsequently convert new consumers and costumers. Social Media provide an extra, and important, platform for your existing customers to provide you with the glowing feedback which will help to do so.

As a content provider, you must think of everything you publish online in function of one of the three aspects of the ACT methodology: how does what I put out there help attract, convert or transform? The same applies to the three-pronged approach of cultivating, adapting your offer and engaging with the new legal consumers: each has to be done with the purpose of attracting, converting or transforming.

Social media are very well suited to cultivate the new legal consumers and engage with them. Media like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, or Reddit, e.g., are ideal platforms to offer assistance, or to start or take part in discussions. If you want to demonstrate your expertise, a blog on your website is not the only possible way to publish specialized articles. Social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ also offer the same ability, with the added benefit of reaching a larger audience.

In summary, social media have a role to play in attracting and transforming new consumers and customers, and are crucial in converting strangers into content consumers. They offer a platform to cultivate the new legal consumers and to engage with them.

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