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Which Social Media Channel is Best for Lawyers?

The promise of social media derived business has attracted many lawyers and law firms to social networking channels. However, the "secrets" to social media success are complicated causing many to abandon their social media efforts.

So you may be wondering: which social media channel is the best and how do I leverage my social media activity in a meaningful way?

There are many definitions of  "meaningful" social media activity, including:

  • Attracting new cases
  • Building a consistent brand across various channels
  • Keeping up with news in the industry
  • Developing relationships with colleagues
  • Case investigation

There are many definitions of "meaningful" social media activity and all are relative to the goals of the lawyer. 

Given that lawyers have different definitions of meaningful social media activity, it is impossible to make a blanket social media channel recommendation. Instead, we analyzed the most popular social media channels among lawyers & law firms and rated them based on use and time commitment.

This post walks you through the social media channel selection process, but here are our top-level recommendations:

  • No time for social media but want to attract new clients? Paid digital ads on Facebook, Twitter, and/or YouTube are your best bet.
  • Brand new to social media and trying to build your follower base? Paid digital ads on Facebook and Twitter can give you a boost.
  • Looking to connect with colleagues? LinkedIn is your platform.
  • Searching for industry news? Twitter is the place for you.
  • No time for social media but want to reinforce your website's SEO? Make sure you have a complete Google+ local page for your practice.

Step 1: How Do You Define Social Media Success?

Followers, likes, shares, link clicks, retweets, post impressions, profile views...  there are many measures of social media activity. However, activity does not necessarily mean that your social media efforts are delivering results for your practice.

There are four primary ways lawyers & law firms use social media:

  1. Professional Networking
  2. Industry News
  3. Client Development
  4. Case Investigation

Each of these uses comes with a different set of strategies and performance indicators:

Professional Networking

Social media is a natural networking medium for lawyers and LinkedIn is THE channel. While you may have a LinkedIn profile already, don't forget that you also stand to benefit from creating and maintaining your company page. 

PRO TIP: Promote your firm's content through the company page first, then share these posts via your personal profile to enhance reach and leave a digital trail back to the source of your content.

Legal industry events provide the perfect launching off point for your networking activity. Our post Use Social Media to Jumpstart Networking at Legal Conferences, provides actions you can take before, during, and after events to boost your social authority and enhance your social networking reach.

Industry News

It's hard to ignore the fact that major news networks increasingly refer to Twitter as a source. Whether you agree with this form of journalism or not, Twitter is THE social network for news. 

Unfortunately, Twitter is a tangled mess in its natural state. You must tailor the channel to your needs in order to find relevant news. Einstein Law's Twitter channel @EinsteinLaw has been built to take some of this initial burden off of you. For example, explore these curated lists to hone in on quality sources:

Client Development

Yes, social media marketing can boost your bottom line. However, we encourage lawyers to take a holistic approach to their client development efforts. It is highly unlikely that social media activity will result in new cases on a consistent basis if the law firm's website is not optimized to convert visitors into clients. 

Social media marketing is just one component of a larger ecosystem built upon user-centric web design, search engine optimization, quality content, and online reputation management.  

Lawyers must also adhere to legal and ethical guidelines when advertising online, so we urge caution when deploying promotional content through digital channels.

Social Media's Place in Your Online Marketing Ecosystem

Before getting too excited about the promise of growing your firm through social media success, make sure you understand that social media is just one piece of your online marketing system. 

Social media channels rely on your firm's online marketing foundation to convert activity into cases. Unfortunately, many lawyers who prematurely leap into social media in the absence of a solid brand strategy and corresponding online marketing foundation become frustrated and disinterested in social media as a whole. 

Popular social platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube provide three core marketing benefits: paid digital advertising, content amplification, and high-touch public relations. Each of these marketing activities is enhanced by social media's always-on nature and ability to target messages to defined demographic groups.

Case Investigation

Now, take a step back from social media as a promotional tool and put on your investigator hat. Thanks to massive adoption of this new digital world, there is more evidence and data at your disposal than ever before. TrialDrone, for example, developed a social media mining system to help lawyers gather data on jurors, locate key witnesses, identify potential class members, and more. 

Social Media Channels Rated by Use

Now that we've cleared up the uses for social media, let's organize these findings to help you make a decision.

We rated the most popular social media channels based on their value to lawyers. Rating ranges from one to five stars, with five stars representing the best fit. We found that LinkedIn and Twitter have significant professional networking and industry news value. Alternatively, Facebook and YouTube provide the best value for client development activities.

Step 2: How Much Time Can You Commit to Social Media Activity?

When you first engage in social media activity, it may feel a bit like drinking from a firehose. However, despite the high volume of users and posts on social media, many lawyers find themselves speaking to an empty room.

Time investment is required to move beyond the initial "I'm on social media" phase to the "I leverage social media activity to achieve my goals" phase. 

There are four primary social media activities to consider: 

  1. Profile Set-Up
  2. Monitoring Frequency
  3. Posting Frequency
  4. Content Creation

Tasks such as profile set-up and content creation can be outsourced or managed by someone on your staff. However, monitoring and posting require your depth of industry knowledge applied in real-time. These tasks will require your time even if done in tandem with an outsourced team or in-house staff member.

PRO TIP: Be honest with yourself before starting social media channels. If you don't intend to commit to daily social media activity, don't invest in social media networks such as Twitter that require daily maintenance.

Social Media Channels Rated by Time Investment

We analyzed the most popular social media channels among lawyers and rated the time investment required to properly manage the different channels. 

Rating ranges from one to five, with five representing the largest time investment. We found that Google+ requires the least time investment, whereas LinkedIn and Twitter require more significant time investments. Note that YouTube requires little set-up time, but optimized video creation is complex and likely requires professional assistance. 

Step 3: Which Two Social Media Channels Best Suit Your Needs?

Once you have defined how you plan to use social media and the amount of time you will commit to your social media activities, you can narrow down the field to one or two channels. 

This does not mean that you should ignore all other networks. Einstein Law strongly recommends that your practice claim its profile on all major channels. If you do not plan to maintain one of these channels, simply include a post that directs visitors to the active channel. For example, your pinned post on Twitter may say "Join us on our Facebook page [include a link] to continue the conversation." You may even choose to include this information in the "About" or "Bio" of the non-active accounts.

Step 4: Where Do You Stand?

Now that you have a plan for selecting the best social media channel or channels based on your goals, it is essential to evaluate your brand strategy and existing client-conversion infrastructure.

If your desire is to gather industry news and catch up with colleagues, you can do this with relatively low commitment. However, if your goal is to generate new business from social media activity, you must have a solid online marketing foundation that converts this activity into new cases.

Without a solid foundation you will quickly find that your social media time investment is not paying off.

The wonderful thing about social media is that lawyers & law firms can utilize the networks even if unable to commit significant time.

Highly committed law firms have one or more branded social media channels and actively post content, interact with followers and proactively build their follower base(s). Those without the ability to commit significant time can utilize paid digital advertising to tap into the community. 

Where do you stand on the social media time commitment continuum?

Contact the team at Einstein Law for a better understanding of your ideal online marketing foundation. There are many online marketing tools at your disposal and we are happy to discuss the strategic and timely use of these tools to maximize your results while honing in on those activities that truly matter to your bottom line.