Social Media 101: A Guide for Lawyers
Social media is a powerful tool that can lend legitimacy to your business. It can help you present yourself as an authority in your field. It connects you with your colleagues. And it gives you carte blanche to share your achievements and highlights. An active social media presence is especially critical for small or growing businesses, as your channels reflect and promote your brand.
But for social media neophytes, setting up those first profiles can feel like a tall order.
Which channels am I supposed to use? Do I need a Facebook, Twitter, AND Linkedin page?
What should I post? And how often?
What the heck are hashtags, anyway?
Fortunately for those who feel daunted, the key to social media success is consistency. It does not matter which profiles you use, how often you post, or how “unique” or special your content is: It just matters that you maintain a consistent, steady, dependable presence.
Here is a brief overview of three of the most popular social media platforms with some pro tips on how to make the most of them.
With more than two billion active users, Facebook is one of the largest and most popular social networks, accounting for about 22% of internet use. Users spend, on average, 50 minutes per day on Facebook.
58% of users say that they are connected to their work colleagues on Facebook, so it is a valuable place to set up a page for your business and firm. The keys to success on Facebook are community, company brand, and consistency.
Let’s break these down further:
Community. Connect with your colleagues. Invite them to like your business page, and comment on and share their content.
Company Brand. Set up a page for your business, and make your logo, professional head shot, or company brand colors visible. Make sure your images are high-quality and true to your brand.
Consistency. While more is better, it is preferable to post consistently once a week than to post in fits and starts, followed by long periods of radio silence. However, remember that quality always, always, always beats quantity. Set your bar low at first, aiming to post once per week.
Use Facebook to share blog posts or articles you authored, updates in firm life, photos from conferences or events, or your colleagues’ content.
Post consistently at the same time each week. Some experts say that Thursdays and Fridays from 1-3 PM are the best times to post.
Take advantage of the built-in scheduling feature on your business page. This allows you to sit down and batch your posts so that they propagate when you want them to, and you don’t have to sit down to post in real-time.
Take advantage of the "promoted post" feature. You can use this feature to target a specific demographic and geographic audience. Essentially, you will pay Facebook to boost one of your posts in the form of a sponsored ad that is presented to your chosen audience.
With more 300 million active users, Twitter is an extremely popular network. Users typically share shorter posts (“tweets”) but can also link to articles and use hashtags to build community. It offers a great way to share highlights from your firm life, to promote your own content, and to follow leaders in your field. 70% of small businesses are on Twitter, so it is an ideal outlet for establishing yourself as an emerging leader in your field.
Twitter is a bit more advanced than Facebook, so if you are a social media novice, consider first setting up a personal Twitter account so that you can slowly grow accustomed to it.
Who you follow matters. Follow your favorite firms, professionals, or news sources. You can also follow leaders in your industry, your clients, future clients, and colleagues. Follow me at @DavisLegalMedia and I will be sure to follow back!
80% of active users view Twitter via mobile device, so making your profile look appealing and navigable for a phone is critical.
Remember that quality matters more than quantity: Only tweet if you have something valuable to offer your audience.
Use and follow hashtags. These ensure that the right audience will see your tweets, and allow you to build community over a particular topic.
As with Facebook, remember to be consistent in your posting schedule.
It is okay to mix professional posts with fun or personal ones. For instance, alternate between industry-related posts and photos showcasing the fun and/or service-oriented activities you enjoy with your colleagues (e.g., local bar events, golf outings, or firm lunches).
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, where users share a mix of personal and professional content, Linkedin is largely a professional platform. It is an ideal outlet to forge professional connections, showcase your accomplishments, and help your colleagues by sharing and commenting on their content. As of 2017, there are about a half billion active users on Linkedin, and about 40% of its users are active.
Most people peruse Linkedin specifically for content related specifically to their industries, so this is a great place to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. 91% of marketing experts list it as the ideal place to find quality content related to your profession or industry. In fact, Linkedin yields three times more conversions than Facebook and Twitter. This is likely because content on Linkedin is read more frequently; unlike Twitter, where people are looking for quick snippets of news, people on Linkedin typically are there to read and learn from the content they encounter.
Linkedin allows you to publish posts directly through the site, so if you are interested in starting to create content but nervous about launching a blog, this is a great place to experiment with publishing original, or "owned," content.
Linkedin is your company’s digital resume. Set up a professional business page with your clean logo highly visible.
Steer clear of personal posts on Linkedin.
Always be sure to like, comment on, and share content from your colleagues as well. This builds good will and shows that you care about the greater legal community – not just building your own business.
Maintain consistency in your posting schedule, even if just once per week.
When you don’t have time to create new content, share or curate content – but make sure it is valuable, relevant, and helpful to your audience, as well as commensurate with your professional goals of becoming a thought leader and growing your business.
No matter which platforms you use, the key to success on social media parallels the key to success in your content plan: Always, always, always consider your audience first. If your content is client-centered and meant to educate, inform, or entertain, it will attract and keep a loyal audience.