Social media is all about relationships and reputation — the foundation of business development for the legal profession. If you’re not nurturing relationships online, you’re missing opportunities for business.
A 2012 McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report ( The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity through Social Technologies – Professional Services (pdf) examined the economic impact of social technologies on the professional services industry:
- The professional services industry has the greatest potential of any industry to see huge return-on-investment benefits from social media.
- Externally, social media is a powerful tool to build overall brand strength and awareness and to signal subject matter expertise.
- At relatively low cost, professional services firms can establish credibility as thought leaders with a wide audience.
In Matt Silverman’s 2010 article “How Lawyers Are Using Social Media For Real Results” written for social media marketing experts Mashable, Silverman described how the use of social media created definite business gains for lawyers and law firms. Attorney Roy Ginsburg of DC-based Dorsey & Whitney LLC, for example, created a blog that attracted over 10,000 unique visitors and helped him land a six-figure client. Similarly, Florida lawyer Bob White used Twitter to share well-researched technology articles, which drew the attention of two tech companies that came onboard as new clients within a few months of starting his account.
The usage of social media networks has steadily increased worldwide. According to a 2013 social media engagement survey from Google’s Squared Online, the global social network audience should reach 2.55 billion people by 2017. This huge audience represents a considerable opportunity for both local and international law firms to attract the notice of potential clients within social media communities.
Social media is an excellent method for both individual lawyers and law firms to showcase their expertise and experience in different legal areas while still adhering to legal regulations. However, marketing through social media is substantially different from other types of marketing.
Social media marketing relies less on the always-promotional, “hard-sell” approach and more on marketing through educational and engaging content. There are multiple methods of delivering this content over social media networks:
1) Blogs. Blogs written by attorneys can discuss various legal issues of interest to the public, such as employment law or copyright law, or provide an appealing venue for discussions of high-profile cases handled by other attorneys.
2) LinkedIn. Lawyers discussing legal issues within LinkedIn discussion groups can demonstrate their knowledge of employment law, environmental law, immigration law or other specialty areas by the quality of their answers to discussion topics. In addition, creating a network of quality contacts on LinkedIn frequently leads to business referrals.
3) Twitter. Attorneys may use Twitter to offer links to articles of public interest such as Supreme Court decisions or to create a community of followers interested in the law or the legal profession. Other potential uses include providing real-time news from legal conferences or charity events, expanding their personal networks, monitoring popular legal topics and driving web traffic to press releases on their websites.
4) YouTube. As the world’s large search engine, YouTube viewers use this site for research as well as entertainment. YouTube videos created by law firms can show how their law firms differ from their competitors (personal branding) and provide visual proof of their expertise in different areas of the law.
5) Google+. Like Twitter, a Google+ page is another useful method of providing links to interesting legal articles and getting to know online friends who could refer their friends, family members and colleagues to your law firm. Google+ also is a helpful way of attracting talented potential hires to a law firm by showcasing the interesting work that your attorneys have done in the past and your work atmosphere.
Social media is the future of relationship building, reputation management, and business development for professional service firms (legal, accounting, advertising and marketing, architecture, engineering etc).
Although it takes time to curate content and manage social media accounts, social media sites create brand awareness and build relationships. This increase in awareness and relationships can ultimately increase your law firm’s revenue.
Related law firm social media links:
Social Media Networking For Lawyers: A Practical Guide to LinkedIn, Twitter And Blogging
Here’s How Law Firms Can Use Social Media To Drive Engagement