Why Social Media for Law Firm Marketing?
Social Media for law firm marketing is more like “old school” marketing than television, yellow pages SEO or search engine marketing ever were or ever have been.
What do I mean by that? Well, before law firms were allowed to “market” themselves via advertising channels, being social was the main way firms drove new clients. Networking with other attorneys, establishing their firm as the authority in their industry by public speaking, being published, and many other real world efforts would help drive new clients to the their firms. Many firms today still use these “old school” marketing techniques. If you take these same tactics and strategies and apply them using online tools you can accomplish as much or more than you ever could before engaging in these activities offline only.
In order to do this you need to educate yourself on the different tools and strategies available and when you get too busy to do these things you may need to consider hiring someone who has your best interests in mind to do this for you. When you decide to hire someone else, being educated will help you choose the right service provider and avoid the mistakes others have made hiring the wrong provider. Believe me, there are more bad social media marketers than good ones, so you need to be really careful to ask the right questions.
What is social media marketing?
The American Bar Association has an excellent article describing the different types of social media marketing that may apply to law firm marketing and some of the legalities associated with it. I recommended you read it. This article will be more about how social media marketing should be used as part of your law firm marketing strategy. In other articles we will get more in depth on the various platforms, and you can learn some more in depth by adding this article on blogging for attorneys to your list of valuable reading.
What are the different social media platforms?
Ask Google “What is social media” and it will tell you that “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking”.
I put social media in into 5 categories, but the lines can be blurry between these in some cases:
- General social media sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Meetup.com and Pinterest.
- Blogs, which should be part of your main website, but you may have additional ones off of your website.
- Local sites, such as Yelp, YellowPages.com, Yahoo! Local, Bing Local and your Google Business, Maps, Local or Plus page (or whatever they are calling it this week).
- Legal versions of these sites such as Martindale Hubbell, Avvo, Justia, Legal OnRamp, and others.
- Video websites such as YouTube or Vimeo.
All of these need to be considered when establishing your web presence, but each will be utilized in various levels depending on the areas of practice you specialize in, and the marketing goals of your law firm.
Setting Up Your Social Media Foundation
Even if you rely solely on referrals to acquire new clients, in fact, especially if you rely on referrals for your law firm, you need to claim and/or setup your social media platforms. This foundation will allow you to do 3 important things:
Help your referral prospects find your firm, and find the right information.
When you get a referral from another attorney, a current client, or if someone is “referred” to the Internet from one of your offline advertising efforts, such as television, radio, public relations or other offline marketing, a large percentage of those prospects will search for you on Google by your name or your law firm’s name. More people will likely see the search results for your law firm or personal name and see your website than will ever see you or your law office lobby. Not putting your best foot forward in these search results is costing you something. Some people will forgive a bad or small web presence, or they might think you are small time if you have a small, outdated or no presence in the search results, but what about the ones who don’t? Are you deserving of the more discerning client? If so, you will want to put your best foot forward. Even your website needs to quickly engage with your target prospects, or people will bounce off and you will lose some prospects.
When you setup all of your social media platforms with your law firm name, address and phone number, and add your personal profile, you are likely to own the first page of Google when someone searches for your firm. You will have control of what people read about your firm (except for reviews, but you can effect this positively), and whether you are a large firm or a small firm, you will appear to have a large web presence, which will build more credibility for your law firm and help to anchor your referrals.
Of course you will also help your prospective clients and current clients find your phone number and address and avoid the frustration of calling wrong numbers or driving to the wrong location.
I don’t know how much neglecting this aspect of your law firm will cost you, but if it costs you just a few clients a year the cost could be thousands, tens of thousands of dollars or much more.
Improve your rankings in Google, Bing & Yahoo! Search results.
While setting up your social media sites will not likely make your firm rise to the top of Google for your most competitive search terms, it will improve your rankings, increase your chances of being found for long tail specific searches, and establish the foundation you need if you have more aggressive search engine optimization goals.
When the search engines see you have a presence in multiple social media outlets you increase the size of your web footprint, and the search engines see you as a credible law firm. They also look at these platforms to confirm your name address and phone number (your NAP) that you also have on your website, which is one of the key factors Google looks at for ranking your firm in local searches. If your different properties are lacking, or if they have the wrong NAP, it will cause confusion for the search engines in addition to causing confusion for the people that find them.
If you have goals of ranking for competitive search engines in a large target market, such as a top 100 city in the US or for national services, you will need social media tools to help you grow your web footprint, share valuable and unique content, and signal the search engines that you not only have a presence, you are a leader in your industry.
Begin to drive new clients from the platforms.
These platforms can in and of themselves drive new clients to your firm, inside and outside of search engine results. When you do more of the right things for your firm to engage with your target clients, you will gain new customers even if you are not ranking at the top of Google for your most competitive search terms.
What are the right things to do to engage with your target clients?
Blogging and creating videos on topics that your clients are interested in will help drive prospects to your website via long tail searches that that may be valuable new clients. When you answer questions your clients commonly ask, and even some of the less common questions you will begin to appear in the search results, build your firm reputation as the authority and drive new clients to your firm who are asking these questions online.
The more you engage online with your audience via online groups, forums and reviews via these online tools the more likely you are to gain clients from them. You have to be careful to choose the right strategy with the right platform, otherwise you will be wasting your time, but the right platform combined with the right messaging and the right activities you will be likely to drive new clients to your firm.
For more information on social media and other other law firm marketing subscribe to our newsletter or contact Dan Stratford for a free consultation at 720-985-7945.