Tag Archives: social media

Introduction to Twitter for Lawyers

The 2019 Tech Survey Report from the American Bar Association revealed that while on average 25% of lawyers uses Twitter personally, only 14% of law firms use Twitter. Which is surprising as it has a lot to offer. So, in this article we will have a closer look at the benefits of using Twitter, and how you can get started. First, for those of you who are not familiar with it, let us explain what it is.

The Wikipedia describes Twitter as a “microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as ‘tweets’. Registered users can post, like, and retweet tweets, but unregistered users can only read them. Users access Twitter through its website interface, through Short Message Service (SMS) or its mobile-device application software (‘app’)”. Apps are available from third party service providers as well. It was launched in 2012, and in 2019 had 330 million active monthly users. In May 2020, Twitter was the third most visited website in the world, after YouTube and the Wikipedia.

The word microblogging refers to the fact that tweets are limited in the amount of characters they can contain. Originally, in line with SMSs, Tweets were limited to 140 characters. In November 2017, that amount was doubled to 280 characters. URLs are typically not counted as characters. If the URL refers to a page that has the relevant tags in its header, a preview of the page will be shown. Apart from text characters, Tweets can have emoticons, often referred to as emoji, in the text. They can also have images and short videos as attachments that will be shown along with the tweet.

What are the main reasons to use Twitter as a law firm? A first reason is that it is a platform with 330 million active monthly registered users. On top of that, it gets a 200 million non-registered visitors per month. Chances are your law firm may have potential clients who use Twitter. A second reason is that Twitter is an excellent networking tool where you can interact with attorneys with similar practices. If you have a blog or publish articles, Twitter is a place to promote those articles. It also allows you to connect with members of the media. Twitter can be an excellent news source too (if you follow reliable sources) and it allows you to obtain information that will be useful in your practice.

A reason to use Twitter as a law firm that is often overlooked is for legal research. Apart from just following legal authors whose articles you’re interested in, you can also create lists in Twitter that you dedicate to one or more topics. You could, e.g., create a list for legal technology, and add the lawyers, researchers, and companies who offer relevant information to the list. Such lists offer a quick and convenient way to get an overview of what is going on and make it easy to stay up to date. When dealing with a specific problem, you can also perform searches on key words by using hashtags. (We dedicated two articles to hashtags in the past. You can find the links in the sources below).

Also noteworthy is that Twitter has been used to serve subpoenas. In August 2018, e.g., Wikileaks was served a subpoena over Twitter. And there also was the case in 2017 where a personal injury letter was allowed to deliver a spoliation letter (i.e. a letter to preserve evidence) to Uber via Twitter.

So, how do you get started? Signing up is free, and can be done at https://twitter.com/signup. You have to choose a unique username (or ‘handle’ as they are often called). Preferably choose one that makes it easy to remember or recognize you by. Some authors advise something related to your personal name, while others advise rather signing up with your law firm’s name. Online consumers typically want to get to know the personality of the person they are dealing with. So, my advice would be that if you set up only one Twitter account to go for an individual one, as it will be easier to relate to. Keep in mind, though, that usernames can only be a maximum of 14 characters long.

You can sign up with an existing email address (that stays private) or with a cell phone (the number stays private, too), and you will be asked to verify your account.

Once you have signed up, you will want to fill out the details for your profile. You can provide a brief Twitter biography. It is good to combine both professional and some personal information in there. You can mention your law firm, as well as some of interests and/or social activities. Remember that people want to be able to relate to you. Stacey Buke recommends a) using a high quality photo for your profile picture, preferably the same professional headshot as your website biography and other social media channels; b) a link to your law firm website to obtain a high value backlink and to drive traffic from the social network to your main digital asset; and c) to complete the information on your location so people know where to find you in case they want to hire you. You may also have a first look at the settings to add more information and to customize privacy and safety settings.

Next, you will want to choose who to follow on Twitter. There are several ways to do this. You can import your existing address book, or you can manually add accounts you want to follow. You can include people you know, clients and potential clients, attorneys with similar practices, service providers you are using or are interested in, people with similar interests, etc. You can also see who people that you follow, follow, and/or who they included in lists they may have created.

If you have more than one Twitter account, or more than one social media account, you could consider using a tool like Tweetdeck (for multiple Twitter accounts) or Buffer or Hootsuite (for multiple social media accounts). These tools typically have a user-friendly interface that allows you to manage several accounts at the same time. Both Hootsuite and Buffer work on a Freemium model, where basic functionality is free for a small number of accounts, and you must pay for the ability to manage more accounts and for premium functionality.

Then it is time to start tweeting. If you have a blog, you can put up links to articles on it. You can use tweets for announcements and news. You can tweet about things that interest you. Keep in mind that social media are not just for self-promotion. They are meant to interact with people. You can reply to tweets, retweet or like their tweets (it is a simple as pressing a button). One author recommends a ratio of 50% retweets or tweets to other people’s content, 30% interactions, and only 20% promotion. Make sure to include some humour in your tweets.

Stacey Burke suggests ten ways lawyers should use Twitter:

  1. Networking
  2. Content promotion
  3. Media coverage
  4. Sharing news of interest to you and your followers
  5. Getting a little personal
  6. Engaging with hashtags
  7. Sharing images and videos, as tweets with images get 150% more retweets than those without.
  8. Live tweeting events
  9. Joining in conversations
  10. Analyzing your competitive landscape

So, give it a go. In a future article, we will focus on how you can use Twitter for marketing purposes, and on how you can grow your own following.

 

Sources:

An Introduction to Facebook for Lawyers

A while ago we wrote an introduction for lawyers to LinkedIn. In today’s article, we’ll focus on Facebook, and how it can be useful for lawyers. From a professional content marketing point of view, both LinkedIn and Facebook have similar offerings. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. When something works well on one platform, the other is likely to implement it as well.

Let us first, in the unlikely event the reader isn’t familiar with Facebook, shortly explain what it is. The (Dutch language) Wikipedia defines it as follows: ” Facebook (formerly Thefacebook) is the name of an online social networking site and the eponymous company headquartered in Menlo Park, California, United States. After registration, users can create a personal profile, add friends (contacts, contacts), send messages, post statuses, post photos, share videos, and receive notifications from ‘friends’ who update their profile. Users can also join different groups and categorize their ‘friends’ into groups, such as ‘Friends at work’ or ‘Good friends’.”

When it comes to using social media for professional purposes, Facebook is the second most used website among lawyers. LinkedIn, with its focus on professional connections, is the most used. It’s worth noting, however, that smaller firms and firms that offer their services to individuals rather than companies, tend to prefer Facebook over LinkedIn. (People used to joke that mainly personal injury lawyers were advertising on Facebook).

Why would you, as a lawyer, choose to use Facebook for professional reasons? Carolyn Elefant gives 5 reasons:

  1. Everyone’s on Facebook. As Lexblog’s Kevin O’Keefe also points out, Facebook is by far the largest social media website. Whereas LinkedIn may have 260 million active users worldwide, Facebook has an estimated 2.38 billion active users worldwide. If you want to meet people online, Facebook is good place to start.
  2. Users on Facebook are engaged. Online legal consumers love engagement, and Facebook thrives on engagement: messages are liked, shared, commented upon. Many lawyers first meet their clients through social interactions, and Facebook is designed for that.
  3. Facebook is mobile. Online legal consumers love their mobile devices, and Facebook accommodates them.
  4. Facebook is the most versatile platform, that offers the most tools to interact with people in different ways. And that includes tools for advertising to very specific target audiences.
  5. Facebook isn’t all about the law. Legal consumers prefer to work with people they know and feel they can trust. By having a glimpse at lawyers’ personal lives, relationships and trust can be developed.

 

So, what does Facebook have to offer? As mentioned above, it’s similar to what LinkedIn does, i.e. personal profiles, company pages, groups, advertising & metrics. Apart from those, it also offers Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and chatbots. Let us have a closer look.

 

Personal profiles: the first thing you do when you sign up to Facebook, is to create a personal profile. Where on LinkedIn your profile is more of a résumé, your Facebook profile is more personal. You can post messages, add photos, videos, etc. You also want to connect with other people by asking them to be your ‘friend’. Once people are part of your friends you can start interacting with them in several ways. It is possible to post entire blog articles as messages on Facebook.

 

Company pages: Facebook also allows you to create pages. These aren’t just company pages but can also be dedicated to certain causes, or even certain products or services. As a law firm, you’ll want to make sure your law firm has its own company page where you can provide information about the firm and interact with anyone who decides to interact with you through the page. What makes company pages even more interesting, is the metrics Facebook provides for them (see below). Facebook also offers chatbot functionality, and it’s fairly easy to add a chatbot to your company page.

 

Groups: Facebook also uses groups, where people discuss the topics the group is dedicated to. If you want to build a positive online reputation for yourself, actively participating in groups in a helpful way is recommended. You may even consider starting your own group and inviting people to it.

 

One of the points where Facebook excels is advertising and metrics. When you post a message, photo or video on your company page, Facebook offers you metrics on how many people saw them, shared them, interacted with them, etc. When you sign up to advertise through Facebook, it opens up a whole new world of metrics, and it allows you to use different criteria to target specific users. Say you have published a book, and created a page for it, you could have Facebook show ads to people within your geographical area that have interacted with the page in some way (liked it, commented on a message, etc.) But you could even be far more specific and use anything Facebook knows about its users to target them with your ads. If you’re a divorce lawyer, you could, e.g., target anybody in your geographical area who changed their marital status from married to it’s complicated.

 

Facebook also offers secure communications through Messenger and WhatsApp, which are more secure than non-encrypted emails. Worth noting is that chatbots can be integrated into these, too.

 

How do you get started? Tammy Cannon of the Social Media Examiner suggests the following three steps.

  1. Support your business with a Facebook personal profile.
  2. Market and advertise your business with a Facebook Business Page.
  3. Engage a narrow audience with Facebook Groups.

In follow-up articles, we’ll explore more in detail how you as a lawyer can use Facebook, including how you can effectively market yourself on the platform.

 

Sources:

 

The 2019 Social Law Firm Index

Good2bSocial (www.good2bsocial.com) recently published its annual ‘Social Law Firm Index.’ It is study of social media marketing adoption, use, and best practices within the legal industry. The Social Law Firm Index analyses each firm’s presence on the internet and across social media and evaluates their social usage to extend thought leadership content and to engage with clients and constituents. It measures social media reach, engagement, and marketing performance on platforms that include Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Based on this information, the report also publishes rankings of America’s Top 200 law firms for best social media achievement.

The report observed the following trends for 2019:

  • There is a notable rise in ‘Paid Social’, especially on LinkedIn. When you publish an article, your followers or connections can read the article. That is referred to as organic social or organic reach. Paid social is when you pay the platform to promote your content as ‘sponsored content’ on other people’s accounts. The amount of law firms that uses paid social tripled over the last year, from 10 to 30%. LinkedIn remains the most popular platform for lawyers to publish and promote their content.
  • There is a decrease in the use of Facebook, and an increase in the use of Instagram. This reflects a general trend that is not limited to law firms: younger users prefer Instagram to Facebook.
  • People use more videos and podcasts. Traditionally, law firms mainly use blogs. But to stay competitive on social media, video is now a required medium, and law firms are increasingly starting to use video. There also is an increase in podcasts. (Our recent article on podcasts explained the benefits).
  • Law Firms continue to invest in marketing automation. “With marketing automation, your law firm can utilize various tools [to] save time, free up bandwidth and ultimately improve ROI. Time-consuming processes can be replaced by a system that can automatically send out emails based on an email response or website visit. When firms combine content with marketing automation, they can analyze what their clients engage with and how. By knowing more about your client, you can deliver better customer service.” (Legal Newswire)

The report always selects the best performers, and based on their performance, distills the current best practices.

  • Measurement and ROI: the law firms that score well clearly identify their goals and develop clear metrics to evaluate how well different strategies work.
  • Think like a leader: “Most Law firms produce client-centric content that discusses pain points or issues that their clients are facing. They are also publishing content that provides added value to their existing clients. Thought leaders also produce content on a regular and frequent basis, written in an easy-to-digest and understandable style and length.”
  • Employee Engagement: legal consumers want to know the people who will represent their interests and use social media to learn about them. The best performing law firms are investing time and money to properly train their lawyers and employees on the use of social media and digital marketing. They also use specialized platforms that offer employee advocacy tools, like LinkedIn, Elevate, PostBeyond, and Clearview Social.
  • Automation: as was mentioned before, more and more law firms invest in automating their marketing efforts. Notable is the increase in law firms using chat bots on their websites to engage with new leads, 24/7.

The report traditionally also focuses on the worst performers. These are the mistakes you want to avoid.

  • Making marketing decisions without data: The majority of law firms don’t use any metrics to evaluate and improve their marketing efforts. (Confirming what this year’s ABA Tech Report called ‘random acts of marketing’).
  • Having home pages and practice area pages on your website that offer low content. One important criterion, e.g., is whether the page answers the searcher’s query. Avoid pages that are thin on content or merely copy content that can be found on other pages. Are you using the right key words that will attract potential clients? “In today’s marketplace, firms need more than just a sharply designed website—they also need to make sure that they’re using appropriate key terms, that they have content that is both useful and relevant, and that there is an organized and logical home page.”

The report expects the trends it identified (and mentioned in the first part of this article) to continue in 2020.

 

Sources:

 

How to use Hashtags

In a previous article, we explained what hashtags are, and where you would use them. In this follow-up article, we’ll explain what the best ways are to use them.

Let us recap that hashtags typically consists of one or more words, preceded by the #-sign. They can only contain alphabetical characters, digits, and underscores. They cannot contain spaces. Therefore, if your hashtag consists of more than one word, it is a good habit to start each word with its own capital letter. It is best to keep your hashtags short: don’t combine more than two or three words into one hashtag. It is also best to use them in moderation: for most platforms, the rule is that one or two hashtags per post work best. Instagram and Pinterest are the exceptions to that rule, where it is common to use a dozen or more hashtags.

What hashtags do you use, and how do you choose them? The following guidelines are considered ‘best practices’:

  • Be specific: if you post an article on a divorce settlement, then use #DivorceSettlement rather than #CivilLaw.
  • Use relevant hashtags only: most platforms will punish the use of irrelevant hashtags by excluding them from search results or by ranking them lower.
  • Keep it simple: if you’re writing about human rights violations in Europe, use #HumanRights rather than the article and subsection of the ECHR that most people won’t be familiar with.
  • Use hashtags that your audience is looking for. Look at what influencers are doing, i.e. research what other lawyers are using, and choose those hashtags that are used by people who are considered authorities in the field.
  • See what’s trending: if your post addresses topical items, you will get more readers when you use a hashtag that is trending.
  • If you want to raise brand awareness or name recognition, use a unique hashtag.
  • Mix it up: don’t make posts that all use the same hashtags.
  • Avoid ‘bashtags’, i.e. hashtags used to criticize something or somebody.
  • Track how your hashtags are doing.

Twitter, where hashtags were first used, gives its own sets of Dos and Don’ts that is useful, too.

Do

  • Make it easy to remember — and spell. Don’t leave room for possible typos, which will make your Tweet undiscoverable.
  • Be realistic. Don’t expect people to start using your brand slogan or other one-sided hashtags in their Tweets if it doesn’t fit naturally and there is no incentive for them to do so.
  • Do your research. Check and see what hashtags people are already using when talking about your brand and capitalize on those. Also, make sure to check if your desired hashtag is already being used. If so, ask yourself if it’s still relevant to your brand.
  • Give people a reason to use your hashtag. Whether it’s an actual prize or just recognition in the form of a Retweet, your audience will respond better when it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
  • Partner with influencers. Influencerscan help gain exposure and visibility for your hashtag.

Don’ts

  • Don’t over hashtag. One to two relevant hashtags per Tweet is the sweet spot. Remember: character count matters.
  • Don’t expect your brand slogan to translate to a hashtag. A hashtag is meant to be inclusive, shareable, and discoverable. If it doesn’t organically fit within a Tweet, it’ll feel forced and lose its intended purpose.
  • Don’t expect people to use your hashtag without a reason or incentive. The best hashtags have the ability to draw people in and invoke curiosity to explore and join in on the conversation.
  • Don’t neglect to educate on what it is and how to use it. Make sure you’re clearly communicating the hashtag and more importantly, why someone would want to include it in their own Tweet.
  • Don’t use all CAPS LOCK. Unless it’s an acronym, this feels like shouting and also adds unnecessary work.

Apart from these general guidelines, there are also best practices per platform.

Hashtags are fairly new to LinkedIn, and there hasn’t been a lot of research on metrics to see what performs best. LinkedIn typically suggests up to six hashtags when making a post. It is possible to weave them into the body of your LinkedIn articles, or to list them as article keywords at the end for wider reach. You can also incorporate hashtags into comments you make on other people’s posts. LinkedIn allows you to add hashtags to your profile for more visibility across the platform.

On Twitter, the ideal number of hashtags per tweet is one or two. Make sure to consolidate your tweets. Aside from normal Tweets, other common ways to use hashtags on Twitter include:

  • Using a single hashtag consistently to categorize all of your content over time
  • Hosting or contributing to a Twitter chat
  • Being a part of Twitter Moments to create or curate a story
  • Researching trending or competitors’ hashtags

Hashtags are still not commonly used on Facebook, but they are supported. Anywhere between 1 to 3 per post are recommended. Don’t forget to make the post public if you want to attract readers outside of your circle of Facebook Friends.

If you upload a video to YouTube, you can enter a hashtag in the title or description. These are hyperlinked, and similar to Pinterest, are clickable to bring up related videos with that tag. Here, too, the rule is to add hashtags sparingly and to make sure they’re directly related to your content. The more tags you add, the less relevant they become.

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags, but research shows that using 9 to 12 creates the highest engagement. Hashtags between 21 to 24 characters perform best. Since many hashtags are allowed, it is best to put the most valuable hashtags first. As is the case in LinkedIn, you can add them to your biography section.

Hashtags on Pinterest identify pins about specific topics. Related Pins can then be discovered by clicking on a hashtag in a Pin description, which takes users to all the Pins that share that hashtag. Here, too, it is better to not go overboard, so don’t add more than 20 hashtags per Pin. As with all the other platforms, make sure they’re all relevant, specific, and descriptive. Pinterest hashtags only work within the Pins’ descriptions.

 

Sources:

An Introduction to Hashtags

What do you call this sign: #? If you’re a digital native (somebody who grew up when the Internet was already around), you’ll probably know it as the hashtag sign. If you’re older, you’ll probably refer to it as the number sign (sometimes also called pound sign), unless you’re into programming or music. In that case, you may read it as ‘sharp’, as in C#. (On a side note, on a regular basis, music teachers express their dismay that young pupils refer to the note C# as ‘C hashtag’, but that’s a different story).

So, what are these hashtags? What are they used for? And why should you care about them? We’ll find out in this article. In a follow-up article we’ll show you to use them to your advantage.

The Wikipedia defines a hashtag as “a type of metadata tag used on social networks such as Twitter and other microblogging services, allowing users to apply dynamic, user-generated tagging which makes it possible for others to easily find messages with a specific theme or content. Users create and use hashtags by placing the number sign or pound sign # usually in front of a word or unspaced phrase in a message. The hashtag may contain letters, digits, and underscores. Searching for that hashtag will yield each message that has been tagged with it. A hashtag archive is consequently collected into a single stream under the same hashtag.”

Hashtags were first used on Twitter in 2007, upon the suggestions of Chris Messina. Adding the #-sign at the front of a word (or group of words) turns it into a clickable, searchable keyword expression. You can search on any topic you like, like, e.g., #ArtificialIntelligence or #Divorce, and you’ll get a list of relevant recent posts on the topic. They are often used for current events, e.g., like the recent #NotreDameFire or #HongKongProtest. If you make a post on a specific topic, you can just add the relevant hashtag and people can easily find your post.

Because hashtags turned out to be so useful and easy to use, they quickly spread to other social media as well. These days, hashtags are used on all major social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. Apart from that, they’re now also used for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) purposes. When you publish an article on LinkedIn, e.g., it suggests and asks for tags. And if conversations on the Internet about a current event are big enough, you can even search for its hashtag on Google and get a live scrolling feed with recent posts. (Some platforms give you live information on which topics are ‘trending’, i.e. are most talked about on that platform).

When and why would you, as a lawyer, use hashtags? There are two sides to this. The first aspect of this is where you do a search on hashtags that others are using to find information. Were you aware that hashtags can be used for legal research, where you can find relevant articles on specific topics? You can even do it on a regular basis to stay informed about recent evolutions in your field of expertise or interest. The second aspect of this is where you start putting hashtags in your posts and articles so others can easily find what you have to say on the matter.

Why are people using hashtags? There are plenty of reasons. Here is a short, not exhaustive, overview:

  • To comment and contribute to a global online conversation. Hashtags provide context and relevance.
  • To stay in touch with your clients and see what they are talking about online (as well as find out what they may be saying about you!).
  • For (legal) research purposes, where they can be used for content discovery and sorting.
  • Hashtags are often used for humour and witty comments. #ButYouDontHaveToTakeMyWordForIt
  • For Business & Marketing purposes, because they are a great way:
    • To build and support your brand
    • To monitor trends and your brand
    • To Boost a marketing campaign
    • To keep in touch with and engage your audience

Mind you, there are some rules to keep in mind when using hashtags. As the Wikipedia pointed out, a hashtag may contain only letters, digits, and underscores. That means “spaces are an absolute no-no. Even if your hashtag contains multiple words, group them all together. If you want to differentiate between words, use capitals instead (#BlueJasmine). Uppercase letters will not alter your search results, so searching for #BlueJasmine will yield the same results as #bluejasmine.” (Mashable). Also forbidden are punctuation marks, so commas, periods, exclamation points, question marks and apostrophes are out. The same applies to asterisks (*), ampersands (&) or any other special characters, all of which can’t be used either.

In a follow-up article, we’ll focus on how to best make use of hashtags.

 

Sources:

 

An Introduction to LinkedIn for Lawyers

In previous articles, we mentioned how social media have become an essential part of online marketing strategies. A report, published in January 2019 by the Attorney at Work website, reveals that in 2018, 85 percent of responding lawyers use social media as part of their marketing strategy. More than two-thirds, 71 percent, of lawyers say social media contributed to bringing in new clients.

Generally speaking, LinkedIn is the network of choice for lawyers, with 77 percent saying it is their favoured marketing platform. This has to be nuanced, in that larger law firms whose clients mainly consist of companies tend to focus more on LinkedIn, while lawyers who deal with individual clients tend to slightly favour Facebook. In this article, we will give you a first introduction to LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a professional social network, which is mainly used for professional networking. It is a business and employment-oriented service that operates via websites and mobile apps. It was founded on 28 December 2002, and launched on 5 May 2003. Since December 2016 it has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft. As of October 2018, LinkedIn had 590 million registered members in 200 countries, of which more than 250 million are active. Signing up to LinkedIn is free, but some premium features are only available with a subscription one has to be pay for.

The main reason people use LinkedIn is to help grow their business or career. It is a tool for networking (which includes a system of introductions), for recruitment (where people can list their skills and experience), for marketing (e.g. to display endorsements and recommendations), advertising, and for research. It also is a publishing platform, and it offers discussion forums, called groups. These can be important to lawyers, as LinkedIn promotes certain authors as influencers (or thought leaders).

LinkedIn offers a package that includes:

  • Profiles
  • Networking Tools / Connections
  • Company Pages
  • Groups
  • Messaging
  • Notifications
  • As well as some other services, some of which can be useful for lawyers.

Let’s go over these in some more detail, knowing that we can only scratch the surface, and that each of them could easily warrant one or more articles by themselves.

Profiles: when one signs up to LinkedIn, the first thing to do is to create your profile. This is a profile for you as an individual. Think of it as a standardized bio or résumé. In it, you can give a summary of who you are, and provide more information about your background: your education, experience, skills, endorsements, accomplishments and interests. For each of these categories of information, LinkedIn offers a separate section in your profile. You can also make posts from your profile, and publish articles. Your profile contains an activity section that lists those. If you want to start a blog on LinkedIn, you can do so from your profile. Profile sections can be added in more than one language.

Networking Tools / Connections: LinkedIn not only allows members to create profiles but also connections to each other in an online social network. These connections may represent real-world professional relationships, but don’t necessarily do so. Members can invite anyone (whether an existing member or not) to become a connection. Members can also ask other members to introduce them to their connections. When looking for someone on LinkedIn, it will show you how many connections you may have in common, and if there are none, how many degrees you are separated from them.

LinkedIn also offers Company Pages, where you can provide information about your law firm. Here the rule is that each company only has one main page, for which a custom URL can be created. It consists of several sections, and each section can be entered in more than one language. Linked to the company pages are showcase pages. If your law firm, e.g., has offices in several locations, each one could get its own showcase page. Showcase pages can also be dedicated to services or products you offer. For showcase pages, too, it is possible to have them in more than one language.

Company pages can post updates, but can’t publish articles. It is therefore not possible to set up a company blog on LinkedIn. It is possible for individuals (profiles) to publish articles, and to provide links to those articles as company updates. Also good to know is that company pages can be linked to a LinkedIn Group.

Groups in essence are discussion forums. Anybody can create a group, and invite people to become members. These groups can either be public (anybody can join) or private (upon invitation or approval). As mentioned above, companies can create a group that will be linked to their company page. Often, these are used, e.g., by the customer care and / or the support department. Interesting for lawyers is that groups can be dedicated to specific topics, and that there are plenty of groups that deal with legal matters (as well as legal technology). Taking part in discussions in such groups can help build your online reputation.

Like other social media, LinkedIn also offers messaging and notification services. For lawyers, LinkedIn also is an important advertising platform (cf. the statistics quoted in the introduction to this article).

Apart from the services mentioned above, LinkedIn also offers a series of other services. These focus on learning and on insights; they allow you to post job offers, etc. In this context (of recruitment) it is worth mentioning a new service that at present is only available in the US and within specific service categories, and is called ProFinder. “LinkedIn ProFinder is LinkedIn’s professional services marketplace that helps you find the best freelance or independent professionals in your area.” It already does include certain legal services, and is expected to include more services, and to become available internationally.

Also worth mentioning is Slideshare. It is a hosting service for professional content including presentations, infographics, documents, and videos. Users can upload files privately or publicly in PowerPoint, Word, PDF, or OpenDocument format. Content can then be viewed on the site itself, on hand held devices or embedded on other sites.

 

Sources:

 

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.

 

Sources:

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.

 

Sources:

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.

 

Sources

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.

Sources: