I’ve read many articles over the past several months about social media and law firms and they typically all carry the same misguided theme: social media success is all about managing your posts, your fans, attracting more fans, and promoting good content. Don’t get me wrong, these goals may be worthwhile, but do they really help get your law firm business?
Think about it: aside from personal referrals, how does a prospective client, go about finding a lawyer these days? For most consumer areas of practice such as criminal defense, bankruptcy, personal injury, and family law, the answer is simple: Google. The fact is clients aren’t going to sites like Facebook or LinkedIn and searching for lawyers because there’s really no way to even do that.
Sure, there’s a chance that they might happen to be fans of a lawyer’s page and need a lawyer in the field that lawyer practices in, then great. But how did they become a fan of a lawyers page in the first place? The answer is–not easily.
That’s because there are really only a few a ways that people would be familiar enough with a firm to become a fan of its Facebook page: 1) they are friends with the lawyer or someone who works at the law firm, 2) they are a former client of the law firm, or 3) they came across the law firm while searching online and discovered the Facebook page on the firm’s website.
So, in most cases, Facebook fans already know of the law firm or have discovered it via a search inquiry. So the fact that a law firm has Facebook fans does nothing to introduce the firm to potential clients unaware of the firm’s existence.
Facebook fans are not what you need. What you need are new clients. You need a targeted group that needs your help. And social media can help you reach those people through highly targeted pay per click advertising. If used properly, social networking sites’ pay per click features can be relatively inexpensive and will yield very positive results.
Think about it–Google is saturated with law firms struggling for organic position and bidding for pay per click (PPC) spots. These PPC spots certainly pay off in the form of new clients, but at what cost? For the new lawyer trying to build a practice, the cost of google PPC is outrageous. In San Diego for example, DUI lawyer PPC spots can run you around $40 per click! While this is a great way to get good leads and is certainly much effective than having a random fan on your Facebook page, it is generally not cost effective. This is where PPC ads on social media can really play make a big difference and pay off.
Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn provide users with tools very similar to google PPC for advertising. The main differences are cost and target. Cost is very affordable on these sites. Most of the time you can get away with good, targeted ads for between $1 and $2 per click on both Facebook and LinkedIn.
The other great benefit of social media advertising is the ability to reach a highly targeted audience. Sure, with Google you can get keywords, but as I mentioned, the better the keyword is for your practice areas, the more expensive the click since every law firm is vying to benefit from those keywords.
In contrast, with social media sites, particularly Facebook, you have the ability to specify more about the people you are seeking to reach. For example, you can target potential clients by their job titles, gender, age, location, marital status, etc. This type of targeted advertising is invaluable and the fact that it is relatively cheap means it is a great way for new lawyers and small firms to attract new clients. This advertising is also highly trackable, which is imperative for any marketing venture.
Also important–with these ads you have the ability to direct the user to your actual website or your Facebook page. Not surprisingly, for all the reasons discussed above, I would recommend sending them to your website, since your website is designed (or should be) to convert a potential client into a new client. After all, isn’t that the purpose of your ad on a social media site or anywhere else, for that matter?
Sure, having fans on your Facebook page is wonderful, but it won’t help you get clients TODAY! If that is your goal, as it should be for any solo or small firm, the aspect of social media you want to focus on is the PPC advertising. Set up a campaign with a tight budget and that is specifically targeted. Give it a try and make social media work to your advantage!
Nicole Black is an attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase. Her legal career spans nearly two decades and she has extensive litigation experience. She was named an inaugural ABA Legal Rebel in 2009 and an inaugural Fastcase 50 in 2011. She is also a well known legal technology author, journalist, and speaker. She wrote "Computing for Lawyers" (2012) and co-authored "Social Media: The Next Frontier" (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authors "Criminal Law in New York," a Thomson West treatise. She often speaks at conferences about the intersection of law, mobile computing and Internet-based technology. She can be reached at email@example.com.