Can you imagine your firm without a website? What if your bio were not listed on the internet?
Well, there was a time when law firms questioned whether they needed a website. And a marketing team was not even part of the conversation. Now in 2016, consider how often your firm’s website is viewed and how many times you look to the marketing team for what’s “trending.”
An active social media presence is just as important as your firm website. Nonetheless, some attorneys are still resistant to social media. They may still think, it’s a fad; that prospective clients would not be interested in firms’ social media efforts; that attorneys do not want their life posted on social media or they “just don’t have time for social media.” This probably means they do not fully understand social media, how to use it, recognize its value, or even know where to start! Perhaps you are one of these attorneys. Your time is valuable and you are busy, but just a few minutes on social media can make a huge difference.
The use of social media does not look like it will be slowing down any time soon with an expected 2.5 billion users by 2018. (statista.com)
Be in control of your own content and make your content easily accessible. Here are a few pointers to help ease your entry into the social media world.
Pick one social media platform
Social media can be overwhelming, so focus on one platform to start. You may pick from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+, to name a few. Each social media network has a purpose and particular audience. For instance, Twitter’s audience looks at what you have to say in 140 characters or less, perfect grammar is optional, and abbreviations are welcome. LinkedIn is a professional site with guidelines that tend to be stricter in terms of what may be posted. You would not post a picture of your tropical vacation on LinkedIn, but you could post it on Facebook with a note about how nice it is to get out of the office when you can.
Choose your platforms wisely
Pick the social media platform that will benefit your firm and your connections. If you are always on the go, attending work-related or community events, Twitter may be the platform for you. Many seminars and events now have Twitter hashtags. (Hashtags are groupings of words that start with the # symbol and help identify topics in searches, etc.). Event organizers share their hashtag with the attendees, which allows you to be grouped with everyone else at the event. You will be able see who you should follow in order to build your connections with individuals or companies that share your interests.
Once you are comfortable posting, sharing, and navigating your way through one social media platform, go ahead and take on your second social media platform (if you wish).
Create a strong profile
Creating a strong profile is the most important and time-consuming aspect of becoming a member on a social media platform. Take the time to fill out your profile summary thoughtfully. Try to include images, photos, or even short videos. Formality varies from platform to platform. A professional color head-shot is great for LinkedIn, but a more casual photo or design might be appropriate for other platforms.
**Do not forget to set the appropriate security settings on your account!
Keep it fresh!
Some attorney LinkedIn profiles have more views than attorney profiles on their firm’s website. Once you finished your profile, keep it current with articles, blogs, vlogs, awards, new photos, and relevant organizations.
Word of caution – only create the number of social media accounts that you can keep current and fresh. Having an inactive platform may be worse than not having one at all.
At first it may be hard to know what to share and who to connect with on social media. The best way to start your social media presence is to connect with current and past colleagues, community organizations, your alma mater, classmates, presenters or panelists you find interesting, authors of articles/blogs you enjoy, companies, and friends.
Always be cautious when using social media. Some attorneys allow legal assistants to choose and accept invites from other attorneys on their behalf on LinkedIn, but this method is ill-advised. Your legal assistant may not be aware of past history of certain cases or conflicts of interest, or awkward relationships.
When you do choose to connect with a person on social media, take a moment to acknowledge that person, either by writing on the person’s feed (where you can read all things posted by all your connections) or by sending them a message (more private than the feed option). This will help make your new connections more personal and help you start building meaningful relationships.
And Keep On Building
From here, you will be able to peruse the networks of your new connections, with some of whom you may wish to connect as well. It’s a small world, and even smaller in the social media world. With just these few sources, your connections will grow on their own. Soon you will need merely to manage your connections and add new individuals or businesses you meet at presentations or work dinners.
Start small and post twice a week – anything from your own original posts to liking and sharing a comment on someone else’s post. Consider scheduling a specific time in your day to review your social media. Perhaps when you are drinking your morning coffee and gearing up for the day? Or later in the afternoon to break up the day, or even just standing in line at the store - whatever works best for you to ensure that you take the time to build your social media presence.
Do not post only about yourself
Share wonderful news about what is happening in your world and at your firm but also remember to share the work of others. Give credit to some of your connections when you find it appropriate. Think of the Golden Rule. You know, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Work with your firm’s social media policy
Review your firm’s social media policy and the State Bar website regarding social media. If your firm does not have a social media policy, encourage the firm to create one. Do not be afraid to ask your marketing team or other attorneys in your office about things to watch out for in this new arena. People who use social media and enjoy it will help you with questions, concerns, or new tricks.
Today is the day to join your fellow colleagues, competitors, and your marketing/business development team on social media. #readysetgo
Vanessa Hill is the Marketing Coordinator at McManis Faulkner. She facilitates all firm marketing events and maintains the firm’s social media pages.