Lawyers are no strangers to social media, but that doesn’t mean that everyone in the field is familiar with how to use it to their advantage. If you’re a lawyer, consider these ways that social media can benefit you and your career.
Use it to Market Your Practice
According to Hubspot data — a leading company in the marketing industry — 95 percent of Millennials expect brands to have a Facebook presence. Even 87 percent of Gen X and 70 percent of people ages 45 to 60 agree that businesses should at least have a Facebook page. In general, people expect brands to be present on at least three social networks.
Lawyers are no exception to this expectation. As Kevin O’Keefe of Lexblog says, however, too many lawyers are ignoring social media when they could be using it to connect with people. After all, wouldn’t you want to communicate where everyone else is communicating?
By engaging with people on social media, you can attract new clients all while keeping past clients interested in your services—should they require them again in the future.
While many lawyers have yet to adopt a social media strategy, it’s clear that it’s becoming more popular with law firms and solo attorneys. As the National Law Review reports, most law firms have a LinkedIn presence. However, more than half have yet to set up a Facebook page, while few are on Twitter.
Furthermore, less than a quarter of law firms maintain a blog, yet over a third of those who do have said they’ve acquired new clients from blogging. In addition, 35 percent of attorneys say they’ve obtained new clients from social media. You can rise above your competition by maintaining an active social media presence to help you gain new clients.
Part of lawyers’ success on social media could be due to the fact that more people are relying on social media to make purchasing decisions. According to digital marketing journal Leaderswest.com, 46 percent of people rely on social media when buying online. Though lawyers aren’t selling an online product, it’s reasonable to assume many of these same people will look over a service provider’s social media accounts before deciding who to work with.
But that’s not the only benefit of having a presence on social media. For one, many people start at social media search engines when looking for specific services. If your brand isn’t present there, how will potential clients know about you? The same goes for search engines like Google. About 80 percent of people use search engines to find local product and service information. When your brand is present and active on social media, your profiles will show up in the Google search results, further leading more clients to your brand.
So what’s holding you back? Perhaps you don’t think you have anything worth sharing online. After all, you can’t share information about your current clients’ trials. And you don’t have to. Start by filling out an online profile that makes it easy for people to get information about your business, including any contact information. Then, keep up-to-date with your followers by:
- Sharing relevant articles. For instance, a divorce lawyer might share interesting news clips on divorce cases, advice for handling child custody, and even articles on what happens legally after a divorce is finalized.
- Posting pictures/videos of company culture. This is a great way to connect with followers. As Nicole L. Black points out, people want to hire people, not businesses, so you can use this to connect on a deeper level. Just remember to be cautious so that no confidential information makes its way online.
- Reposting fun comics related to your practice. Everyone loves a bit of humor now and then!
Use it to Help Your Firm Set Goals
Even if your firm doesn’t have a profile on specific social networks, you can still use these networks to your advantage. Specifically, you can search what other people are saying about you online. You can start at the networks or search engines to search your firm’s name to see what types of discussions are going on, whether those discussions are positive or negative. Otherwise, you can set up Google alerts, which will send you an email whenever your firm is mentioned online.
The benefit to this is that you can use this feedback to build a better practice. If the feedback is positive, then you know what’s working and can cultivate those positive areas to make them even better. If the discussion is negative, then you have a better idea of what you need to work on, and you can set realistic goals around those complaints.
Important: Don’t ignore the lesser social networks. While you may be tempted to focus solely on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you may find your firm mentioned on lesser-known forums.
Bonus tip: If you do have a social presence, you can use sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to gather client testimonials, which will help market your business even further as new clients will see that others put trust in your brand.
Use Social Media to Network and Build Your Authority
As the American Bar Association points out, networking is incredibly important to law students. However, it can be equally beneficial to established lawyers as well. As you may have experienced, you might find that a lawyer friend is booked with cases at the moment. Instead of taking on a new one, he might send his prospects to you. Not only that, but you can learn a lot from other lawyers, too, no matter how experienced or inexperienced they are.
While you may think of networking in a sense that it’s all about attending conferences and handing out business cards, it encompasses numerous other activities. When you’re not meeting with another lawyer or colleague directly, you could be connecting with them via social media.
But that’s not all being active on social media is good for. As Legal Talk Network points out, it’s becoming increasingly important for lawyers to build their expertise if they’re to stand out from the crowd. You can build your authority as a reputable lawyer and an expert mind in the industry through social media. Couple this with blogging and other forms of content marketing, and you have yourself a recipe for success.
How? With a great blog, readers will begin to share your content across social networks. That action results in more recognition for your name and your brand. It will also push your site up on the search engine rankings where a majority of online activity begins. The more email subscribers and social media followers you have provides support for your reputation. For example, you can with certainty state information such as: your firm has 20,000 email subscribers and 50,000 Facebook likes. These metrics are a mechanism by which your brand’s value and reputation may be measured.
The more you engage on these social networks with your own content, the more opportunities you’ll have to demonstrate your authority. For example, other bloggers may contact you for interviews, or you might be asked to be a guest on a podcast — or you can start your own podcast to boost your outreach. All of this helps to expand your brand’s awareness and helps differentiate you within a larger firm or if you are a solo attorney as well.
Use it as Evidence in the Courtroom
Since the rise of social media not even a decade ago, lawyers have been using social media for and against plaintiffs and defendants to prove their case. If your firm has yet to turn to social media to support a case, don’t be surprised when the opportunity arises.
As Journal-News.com reports, social media posts are admissible in the courtroom. In many cases, it’s the first place lawyers turn to find evidence.
Examples of how social media can be used in the courtroom include to question a witness’s credibility based on inconsistent information they’ve shared in the past — related or unrelated to the current case — or to demonstrate a client or witnesses’ character.
However, it is important to be aware of how to obtain this information. In some cases, lawyers must turn to a person’s Facebook friends to access private friends-only content, and the person’s Facebook friends must offer that information willingly. You would also have to confirm the authenticity of the profile as well as whether or not the person in question actually posted the content. (Someone else could have posted from their account or otherwise altered a photo of an individual, for instance.)
So while using social media in a case can be time-consuming, it has proven to be helpful in supporting successful cases.
Social media is a practical tool in all areas of life, but if you thought it was only good for connecting with old friends from college and that it’s only for “socializing,” you couldn’t be more wrong. How have you used social media in your practice in the past, and how will you change your habits in the future to reap the full potential benefits of online social networks?