Social media for law firms: benefits, risks and generating business online

Solicitors are risk averse by nature and the perceived risks of social media marketing can put a lot of law firms off. However, social media is becoming ever more prevalent in modern culture. This head-in-the-sand approach could mean law firms without a social media marketing strategy are missing out on a good chunk of business.

According to an Ofcom1 survey published last year, 83% of adults go online in the UK; of these, 66% use social media. That’s almost 30 million adults in the UK using social media, which is nearly half of the total population. Sixty per cent of these people are checking social media more than once a day. These figures have grown since previous years and are expected to continue to grow.

At Moore Legal Technology, we create and implement bespoke social media marketing strategies for law firms. Based on our wealth of experience, our social media marketing expert Stacy Nelson shares her insights. We look at the benefits of social media marketing for your law firm, and how you can manage your reputation online.

The seven benefits of social media marketing for law firms:

1. Thought leadership

Many lawyers and professional services use Twitter as an information exchange for news and views in their relevant areas. By sharing your recent content and relevant news, you will be placing your law firm in a position of thought leadership among your peers and potential clients.

2. Increased search engine rankings

Search engines such as Google catalogue links to each specific website, and analyse the strength and value of these links. According to search engines, if people are sharing links to a website, that website must hold some value for the end user. Social networking sites such as Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook hold high value in these terms. For law firms, this means that sharing links to your blogs and articles on social media will influence your search rankings, making it easier for clients to find you. Just make sure your web content and social media strategy reflects the areas in which you’re looking for business!

For more information on how online content can generate business for you, click here.

3. Brand awareness

Place content from your website in front of a targeted, valuable audience. With over 17 million UK adults checking their social media streams more than once every day, social media has become the new high-footfall advertising space. Social media allows you to target a specific audience, and share the benefits of your services with them.

4. B2B networking

Many of our legal clients claim that most of their new business comes via referrals. This is no reason not to be on social media! Social media gives you the chance to check in with your business contacts on a regular basis, sharing your news and comments on the latest developments in your sector. Keep up with your fellow alumni, or send an interesting article to the accountant who refers you work.

5. Build new business relationships

As well as networking with current contacts, social media presents an opportunity to easily connect with new people. For new hires, referrers of business and clients alike, an active and social online presence makes your law firm an attractive choice.

6. Increasing website visits with warm leads

What’s the different between someone who clicks onto your website from an active social media account and someone who lands there after a Google search? The first is a warm lead. People who follow you on social media get to know your firm and this influences their buying decisions once they’re on your site.

7. Generation of new business

Ultimately, the end goal of all online activity should be this and this alone: generating new business for your law firm. This is the end benefit of your site ranking in search; of nurturing B2B relationships; of increasing your website’s traffic.

Social media reputations management for law firms

The benefits of social media are clear, but what about those risks? The main risks associated with social media marketing are human error – posting something you shouldn’t – and negative feedback.

I’ve put something on social media I shouldn’t have. What now? From minor mistakes like spelling errors, to major ones like posting mis-timed messages after tragedies, it’s not the end of the world.

To begin with, it’s important to have processes and controls in place to limit these mistakes happening in the first place. Make sure you’re aware of current news before making a post and if in doubt, search some keywords first. Make sure that anyone with access to your social media streams is trained in your brand tone and understands what is and isn’t acceptable. Ideally you should have some form of sign off process in place to ensure that anything that’s published is appropriate and is not likely to result in damage to your brand. If you are scheduling posts in advance, don’t forget to check them before release to ensure they remain relevant and appropriate.

If something does go out that shouldn’t, don’t panic. If the tweet is truly terrible, you can delete it – but be careful! If someone has responded to the message before you get a chance to delete it, acknowledge the fact that you’ve deleted the message with something along the lines of:

“Thanks for letting us know! We’ve now deleted the message, apologies for any offence caused.”

If a few people have replied to or shared your message, it might be time to think about an official apology. Own up, explain, apologise and do what you can to make it right. If you get this bit right, the impact of how you dealt with the crisis can overshadow the mistake in the first place. See, for instance, the comments on this Facebook apology. People were falling over themselves to vouch for this law firm, who simply sent the wrong tweet at the wrong time.

Someone’s left my law firm a bad review. Help!

Another major concern is that you can’t control what other people say on social media about your law firm. The truth of the matter is that people can say what they want on social media whether your law firm is online or not. The only difference is whether you’re there to see it! The best way to tackle bad reviews online is prevention. If you’re providing the best service you can, with great customer service, you’re far less likely to be the victim of unhappy customers online. That being said, flukes happen, and people aren’t always reasonable! But bad reviews could actually be good for your business. This is because it gives you a chance to showcase your excellent customer complaints process. Never delete a bad review and never get your dirty laundry out in public. Whether or not your firm is in the wrong, always apologise, invite the customer to chat in private and offer to fix it:

“We’re sorry you feel this way. We’d love to chat about how we can fix this for you. Can you contact us via email/directmessage/phone and we’ll work something out? As always, we appreciate the feedback – thanks!”

Read more about reputation management for law firms.

About the professional indemnity division at Howden

Howden has one of the UK’s most respected Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) broking teams. We have the knowledge and expertise to look after businesses operating across a range of sectors and territories and believe firmly in the importance of developing strong relationships with our clients and insurers, based on honesty and respect. We are market leaders in many of the UK’s professional services sectors and our client base includes some of the world’s leading professional services firms.

Howden Insurance Brokers is part of the Hyperion Insurance Group, the world’s largest employee-owned insurance group. Originally founded in 1994 as a wholesale broker, Hyperion now has businesses across retail and wholesale broking and underwriting. Hyperion is a global business generating £400m revenue per annum from over 120 offices around the world. With over 3,000 staff worldwide Hyperion is the fifth largest producer at Lloyd’s.

References

1. 2014 Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report. Published 29/04/2014.

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