ALPMA is the peak Australasian professional membership association for legal practice managers and leaders. As our expert guest blogger, Nicole Shelley explains how to maximise social media as an essential and effective marketing and client engagement tool for law firms.
See the original article here.
There is still some hesitation within the Australasian legal industry to embrace digital marketing, including a presence on social media channels.
Some barriers include:
- a lack of understanding on how to determine the return on investment;
- a lack of insider industry knowledge around digital marketing and in particular, how this translates into a professional services context.
The platforms developed to be ‘social’ with family and friends have evolved into the most effective platform on which to share your firms’ stories, successes and values. It’s your opportunity to speak directly to your clients in bulk. Once you gain an understanding the fundamentals, social media for law firms really becomes an effective and essential marketing and client engagement tool.
From our experience, the two largest initial roadblocks are:
- How to successfully start. Where do we start?
- How to create social media content. Having the knowledge around what to write about, what to post, when to post, where to post and how to post your content.
Where to start with your digital marketing strategy
When kicking off any communication and marketing strategy, law firms always carefully consider, and many battle with, the thought of ‘handing over’ their firms’ public facing voice to either an internal marketing team or an external agency.
We generally see that ‘letting go’ is overcome by 1 of 3 factors.
- It’s brought to the firm’s attention that competitors successfully navigate social media and there is the reactionary position to do the same;
- Digital savvy senior leaders of the firm champion these initiates; and/or
- Engaging the right resource to successfully develop, manage and implement digital marketing is key.
How to allocate the right resources to your digital marketing strategy
Allocating the right resource to managing your digital marketing social media management is an important part of planning for the firm success.
Whilst you may have a junior staff member who is a “super user” and very engaged with posting in a personal context, they may not have the business knowledge and marketing strategy know-how to frame your online communications in the best way. It’s not simply a matter of handing it to a ‘gen y’ or ‘millennial’.
The nature of social is dynamic. Platform algorithms (the science and technology behind how social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn actually work) are always changing and it’s incredibly time consuming to keep on top of it all. This should also be another consideration when setting the digital marketing team up for success. Allow your inhouse team the capacity to continuously upskill and stay abreast of developments; just like lawyers upskill in legislative changes through their CPD programs.
Overcoming this allocation of the right resource, gives comfort to firms. Unfortunately, this can be a long road to success particularly for smaller law firms, many whom initially pilot social media marketing with the resources they have at hand, creating an often less than desirable initial outcome. In turn, if your initial foray into social media is unsuccessful, you may not continue and, in our view, this is a big mistake.
Social media marketing content planning
To help keep your social media tone of voice true to your firm and your content relevant to what you do and for whom you do it (your audience), we recommend having a strategy which loosely follows a 5-3-2 content framework.
- Five pieces of content should focus on your industry. For specialist law firms this may be changes in family or property law for example or for firms with a broader service offering, don’t be afraid show the breadth of your offering across social media. If you do both family and property law do not be afraid to share both industry updates on your social media platforms. This provides a good opportunity for client cross selling.
- In curating/creating these 5 pieces of content, leverage current and relevant industry news and events. Keep in mind your target client audience. This will facilitate conversation and assist to position your firm as thought leaders.
- Three of the ten posts can be used to specifically promote your firm, your practice areas and your lawyers’ expertise. This can include client success stories, lawyer speaking engagements or sharing news and insights from the firm’s website.
- Now it’s time to showcase your firm values by sharing posts that highlight organisational core values. In addition, showing your audience that your firm has a human side is a great way to build familiarity and trust. This can be inclusive of events like team fun runs and sporting events or pro-bono and charity work. Professional services firms are in the people industry and social media provides an opportunity to showcase human experiences and values that align with clients or potential clients own values.
While this is a guide and some weeks this will need to change and flex for business reasons, we do recommend posting on average of at least 7 – 10 posts per week. More content is usually preferable than less content, but don’t post for the sake of posting. The quality of your content should be your top priority.
What can you learn from the mistakes of others?
There are two common mistakes most people/companies will make when embarking on their social media content journey. The first mistake is thinking firms have nothing valuable to share on their social media platforms.
This is simply not true. Take a step back and appreciate the tribal knowledge that is held within the firm and transfer this into content that is easy to digest and appealing to the intended audience, your clients and industry.
The second mistake is doing the opposite – going overboard on sales pitch or another of the above elements and therefore not having a balanced and rounded approach. You can have a little bit of ‘me, me, me’ but you need to have a lot of ‘you, you, you’.
Finally, a holistic approach is essential to social media management. There must be a strategy. There is no point if your posting is ad hoc, inconsistent in the content and regularity of posting or irrelevant to your audience.
Your social media tactics and strategy must be a piece of both your digital marketing and traditional marketing mix.
ALPMA is the peak Australasian professional membership association for legal practice managers and leaders.
Nicole Shelley B.Com, CPA, CIMA is Operations Manager at Pepper IT, a full service digital and social media agency with a particular expertise advising clients in the professional services sector. As a qualified accountant and working at top tier global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills in various strategy and practice management roles, Nicole understands the unique operating environment of law firms. Combining her background with her marketing expertise Nicole works with professional services firm across Asia Pacific on digital marketing.
Nicole can be contacted via the Contact page.