Over one billion people use Facebook. More than 500 million people have Twitter accounts. There are 200 million+ LinkedIn users. That’s the social media landscape and the legal profession is right in the middle of it.
A recent survey by The Research Intelligence Group has found that of people who looked for an attorney in the past year, more than half of them used social media in their search. Nearly a quarter said they used Twitter or Facebook to ask for recommendations from friends and contacts in their network. One in four said they made their final decision based on that input.
Here’s a summary of the main social media outlets you can use in your legal marketing to help you grow your business:
LexisNexis has found that Facebook is the top social media outlet for consumers to find lawyers. Already established as a personal interaction site, it’s quickly becoming a go-to destination for business as well. Set up a Facebook Page specifically for your firm, separate from your personal profile. Use your firm’s Page to provide relevant content to your target audience, and use the smart lists features in your personal profile to categorize friends by work, school, family and city so that work-specific communications go directly to those who would most value them. If you use only one social media tool, you should consider Facebook.
Once looked at as simply a site for job hunters, LinkedIn has morphed into a valuable business development tool. The first thing visitors will see when they find you is your profile with career history, so make it clear, succinct, and relevant to people seeking legal assistance. Raise your profile by posting status updates related to your firm, linking to interesting legal articles, and joining industry groups and engaging in relevant discussions within such groups.
Twitter is the social media vehicle of choice for instant online access covering the latest news and events. Many use Twitter as an alternative, real-time news source. You can build a base of followers 140-characters at a time by offering insights and links to articles that are relevant to current and potential clients. Twitter offers a quick way to enhance your reputation and get you into the conversation.
Google+ is a more recent entry to the social media world, and Google claims that there are now more than 500 million Google+ accounts. It mirrors Facebook in a number of ways. However, it offers greater ability to share targeted information through closed groups of people called “Circles.” You can place your clients in a specific Circle, isolating them from other contacts and tailoring your content to that group. Google Hangouts is another powerful feature, enabling you to have video calls with up to 10 people at once. In addition, involvement with Google+ can help you rank better in Google searches. Kymeshia Morris recently posted here on the benefits of Google authorship for lawyers.
Blogs typically provide commentary, opinion and news covering a particular subject, and they can be an effective way to attract new business. Posting on various legal topics increases your visibility in search engine results when people hit Google to look for an attorney or for answers to a specific legal question. Blogging on a regularly basis establishes you as an authority in your field and can drive significant business to your firm. It can even lead to publishers contacting you about book writing opportunities. Ed Poll shared his ideas on blogging for lawyers in this recent post.
Social media is rapidly becoming a key marketing tool for law firms. Not only CAN legal marketing be social. It already IS.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.