Today, social media success is so much more than measuring your likes, comments and shares. It’s about looking at the real return on investment of your strategy and tactics.
With the new year fast approaching, take the time during the quieter days of December to map out a social media marketing plan for 2020 with a list of tactics and goals that are actually attainable.
Social media is a great way to build your brand, enhance your professional network and hopefully bring in new business and leads (the ultimate goal of social media marketing). Social media enables you to become a thought leader, add extra personality to your professional brand and work, and to make connections who are engaged and will often in time, trust what you say and will listen when you share information.
Think big picture
Working with firm leaders, the marketing team, and other key stakeholders, spend the time to develop an overall strategic social media plan for your firm focusing on key areas of growth, key practices and industries, target clients and more.
...focus on key areas of growth, key practices and industries
This will be the overarching business plan and editorial calendar to enable your firm and lawyers gain greater market share and brand awareness using social media and content.
Build a strong LinkedIn profile
Everyone is using Google for research purposes and your LinkedIn profile will come up as the first or second search result, underscoring its importance. Without a strong profile, or no profile at all, you’ll look behind the times and also you’ll be at a disadvantage to your peers who are effectively using LinkedIn to network and build their book of business.
For more on how to build a strong LinkedIn profile, see my JD Supra article, LinkedIn 101: How to Master Profile Basics & Build Your Professional Brand.
Always include an image with your social media post
You should never post anything to social media without an accompanying image. Why? Images greatly increase engagement on your posts, they help to capture the attention of your audience as they scroll through their feeds and they can bring your content – especially dry content – to life. That being said, the images should be relevant to your content, include your branding and use photos or other visually arresting elements, such as icons, big numbers/callouts and stock images.
Canva.com is my go-to online resource when it comes to easily and inexpensively creating social media images – the best part is that you don’t need to be a graphic designer to use the site – it’s for non-designers who want to take their creative elements to the next level.
Go where your clients are
It’s really simple to figure out where to focus your social media efforts – only go where your clients and other target audiences are, and master those key platforms rather than trying to be on every platform and doing a mediocre job on them.
I am often asked about whether a firm or a lawyer needs an Instagram page – it depends on who you are trying to reach and the messages you’re trying to convey (read my JD Supra article on Instagram for more on this topic).
LinkedIn is the most important network to be on for all law firms (irrespective of size) because your clients are on it, and they want to see who you know who they know (first and second degree connections). LinkedIn is how business professionals conduct competitive intelligence, reconnect with contacts and build their brand as a thought leader (posting content and being regularly visible).
As for Twitter, many firms do have an active Twitter presence and the number of followers they have varies as does their levels of engagement. My advice here is to have a Twitter presence if you see your competitors on the platform and if your clients are using it. My personal opinion is that most lawyers do not need to be active on Twitter unless it makes sense for their practice/brand or you enjoy using it as a news aggregator. That being said, I would caution Twitter users to not mix their personal interests with their professional interests (for example, don’t post about sports or politics) because everything about you and your brand reflects to others who you are.
When in doubt, just don’t post it – and that goes for all social media platforms.
Remember that one size does not fit all
Each platform is different, with a unique voice, and the language you use to post should be tailored accordingly. Customize the anchor text for each post on each medium (in other words: don't share the same teaser/intro text on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).
Taking the time to do this will enhance the effectiveness of your social media presence and make you and your firm appear social media savvy versus more like an automated machine.
Invest in a content syndicator
It’s not enough to post your client alerts to your web site and social media and send them to targeted contact lists. Many firms utilize content syndication services such as JD Supra in order to amplify their content and get it in the hands of more decision makers.
...content syndicators provide powerful reach and robust analytics so you can really track engagement
These content syndicators provide powerful reach, enabling your lawyers to strengthen their position as subject-matter experts. They also come with robust analytics so you can really track engagement and what does well and what does not so you can refine your content strategy. Take a look at an article I wrote that explores this topic in more depth.
Only post content of value to your audience
The content you post to your social channels should always be value added and helpful, even if you are facing pressures to post "fluff" content that seems overly boastful. Everything can be recast to put the client first - and if you step into their shoes and adopt a client-centric mentality to your social media and content marketing efforts, you will always be on the right path.
Every time you post an item to social media, you’re putting your brand forward from a company and lawyer perspective. Every post is an experience and a touchpoint – social media posts help keep your firm and lawyers top of mind with interested audiences. So use your posts wisely to convey key information – such as thought leadership, news about the firm and client successes.
Always show versus tell and adopt a client-centric mindset to your posts. If you can’t quickly answer how a post can benefit your target audience, don’t post it. You want to be seen as a go-to resource with valuable information.
Learn how to effectively use hashtags
Hashtags have become more important since LinkedIn made them part of their search algorithm. You’ll want to post at least three relevant hashtags on your LinkedIn posts. On Instagram, your content won’t be found without hashtags (include them in the first comment on the page for higher searchability and to make the captions look less spammy). On Twitter, your content will be fine without hashtags because the platform picks up words in your posts in its search but 2-3 hashtags certainly won’t hurt your visibility.
Word to the wise: embrace the power of hashtags but don’t overuse them and don’t use hashtags that are too specific or too general or make up your own. Online tools such as Ritetag and Hashtagifyme can help you determine the best hashtags to use with a post for free so use them to your benefit.
Incorporate new media into your social strategy
Videos and podcasts are a great way for your target audiences to engage with your content. Podcasts especially do well with decision makers and outside counsel because of their “portability” – meaning you can listen to a podcast while commuting, working out or during downtime – making them very powerful ways to reach your network.
That being said, you don’t need to invest in a fancy in-house studio to do videos or podcasts well – a laptop, smartphone and web conferencing capabilities are often all you need (stay tuned for a future article on this!).
Share your successes but don’t overshare (and spread the love to top clients/contacts)
What I mean by this is to always use the “humblebrag” approach when you post items about yourself – don’t seem overly self-congratulatory about your successes or your network can be turned off and may even unsubscribe from your posts. Instead talk about how the item at hand is beneficial/helpful to them. Downplay your success while being helpful. Mention others who perhaps also won an award that you did or helped you write an article or helped you to get where you are.
Always think show versus tell in all of your posts, meaning how can I demonstrate that I am the very best lawyer or we are the very best firm versus telling your audience this information.
In addition, dedicate some of your posts to the successes of your clients and important contacts – this will strengthen your relationships with these individuals and they may return the favor down the line to you when you have an accomplishment.
Social media success is largely about mutual reciprocity.
Schedule your posts for the right time
Tools such as Hootsuite, Clearview Social, Buffer and Tweetdeck enable you to schedule posts, use columns to track lists or specific hashtags. You’ll want to time your posts for when you have a captive, maximum audience – this is during commuting times in the morning and evening as well as during lunch when employees are likely surfing the web.
Weekends are generally bad times to post business content, and posts created on Monday and Friday get less engagement than those posted on other workdays.
Engage your employees to use social media
When your employees are connected to your network (on LinkedIn everyone who is currently employed by your firm is added as a follower of your company page) and actively engage with your content, you’ll greatly increase the reach of your posts.
Use LinkedIn’s analytics to your advantage
LinkedIn provides a treasure trove of analytics and statistics that will enable you to refine your social media strategy. Study them often in conjunction with your Google analytics and email marketing stats to help guide future content. As a LinkedIn company administrator, you’ll be able to see the posts that did well and those did not, the composition of your followers and much more.
If you have a premium or paid LinkedIn account, you’ll be able to use helpful competitive intelligence tools such as who has viewed your profile and get more robust statistics on the success of your posts. Twitter has robust stats as well – if you’re not using analytics to refine your social strategy you are posting content in the dark.
Create a job posting for LinkedIn
Posting job openings on your LinkedIn company page can provide your organization with more visibility, give you access to a larger candidate pool and provide reinforcement that your company is doing well and growing. Just make sure your employees also share these job postings on LinkedIn to their personal networks so that you increase engagement and your candidate pool by tapping into who they know.
Add your LinkedIn company page and personal URL to your email signature
Your email signature is a very visible and terrific way to brand your company and yourself. Take advantage of it – it will be on every email you send and receive and what better way to obtain more visibility?
I hope I’ve given you some ideas for enhancing your social media efforts. There’s no time like the present to start planning for the new year – happy posting and happy holidays!
[Stefanie Marrone helps law firms effectively tell their stories and find their unique voices. Over the last 17 years, she has worked with some of the most prominent and innovative law firms in the world, developing and executing global revenue generating business development and communications strategies, including media relations, branding, and multichannel content marketing and social media campaigns. She is very passionate about using social media for lead generation and brand building. She has a diverse range of experience in both Big Law and mid-size/small-law firms. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her latest writing on JD Supra as well as her blog The Social Media Butterfly