Last year I attended the second Social Media Marketing for Law Firms Summit in New York City. Much of the focus was on blogging. No surprise there since pioneering blogger and CEO of LexBlog, Kevin O’Keefe, moderated the panel which offered lots of great insight and advice on law firm blogging. At this year’s summit leading law firms shared the lessons learned about how they use social media and content marketing to highlight expertise, build new business and expand relationships with existing clients. This included: how to get buy-in at the firm, establishing a strategy, the return on investment (ROI), and managing the channels. Here are the highlights, and keep in that it’s not a one-size-fits-all strategy.

How to work with lawyers at the firm who don’t get social media

  • Show them the firm’s clients on social media and conversations they’re NOT having with them
  • Offer training
  • Understand the generational divide and handle partners and associates differently
  • Show what competition is doing
  • At the very least, start with LinkedIn – personal profiles of every attorney + firm page and groups

How to get lawyers on board after they get it

  • Just take the lawyers’ firm bio and profile and put it on linkedIn
  • Assign lawyers as partner advocates
  • Repurpose content
  • Write during downtime – like while commuting
  • Partner within and outside the firm on content – lessens burden and nurtures relationships

How to get baby boomer lawyers at the firm (the decision makers) to engage on social media

  • Avoid using branding and marketing terms. Remember that many began practicing at a time when marketing was distasteful
  • Acknowledge the “lawyer personality” – resistant to change, don’t need help, I know my clients and they don’t care
  • Be ready for common objections: Only do what competition is doing; why would I stick my neck out? What if someone questions my content online? Am I offering legal advice?
  • Every step forward is a battle – one step at a time
  • Fold in traditional marketing activities – client alerts, press interviews, rankings, website bios, specialized events, LinkedIn
  • It’s a sales pitch
    • Don’t draw conclusion, let them talk – articulate their challenges/issues
    • Don’t offer the kind of examples just yet that will make them feel discouraged
    • Help them to arrive at their own conclusion
    • Meet challenges head on: distasteful, don’t see ROI, etc.
    • Start with their world (topic, peers)
    • Close the sale: would you be open to trying? – Start with analyzing clients on LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn
    • Explain the benefits in terms of existing content
    • Show that it is THE professional social media destination
    • Show how you control who sees what
    • Show what you find interesting and relevant
    • Check out native metrics

 


 

Fall out from NOT having a social media presence

  • Companies no longer control their brand. Firms need to participate in discussions and guide it – online, including on social media
  • Not being known what is being said about you. Social is where the conversation is taking place

What does a large law firm like DLA Piper’s global social media effort look like? 

  • 15 Twitter accounts
  • 10 Facebook accounts
  • LinkedIn Groups and Pages
  • Instagram accounts
  • Zing (Germany)
  • YouTube
  • Google+

Results of social media and blogging for individual lawyers and law firms

  • Gained meaningful connections
  • Led to speaking engagements
  • Led to press interviews
  • Led to feature articles
  • Got clients directly

 


 

Measuring Law Firm Social Media ROI

  • Easy to measure – reach and engagement
  • Hard to measure – leads, sales, brand awareness
  • Social share of voice
  • Take holistic approach, not month to month or quarter to quarter. And remember that not everything that’s important shows up in the box score.

 

“Analytics and data are not enough. Take corresponding action!”

 

Social Media Tools (There’s a bottomless well of social media tools. Here are four that were highlighted)

  • Google Analytics
  • Hootsuite
  • Simply Measured
  • Curata CMP

Adopt a long term view of Social Media 

  • Business development and sales cycle of legal moves at a different pace than digital and social media
  • Consider content as a valuable asset – it’s not just a piece of marketing. It’s a building block
  • What makes a great ball player or artist? A body of work. View content and social similarly

How to create and promote content

  • Synthesize information
  • Connect the dots
  • Provide a thought provoking exercise
  • Be patient and consistent
  • Send out every blog post by email and social media
  • Syndicate your content (e.g. Mondaq, Lexology, JD Supra)

Law firms: Have something to say on social media

  • Choose your content carefully and strategically
  • Identify rock star lawyers and give them a voice
  • Don’t just post about awards, put out original content around the industry and topics you service
  • Ask: what’s the story?
  • Everybody is different. One size or strategy doesn’t fit all. Find your voice

Business development / Content marketing strategy

  • Find your niche
  • Know your audience and tailor messaging for each
  • Be authentic and memorable
  • Look outside the industry for inspiration
  • Repurpose content
  • Use analytics to drive content
  • Create robust social media profiles and promote content and engage there

How to Integrate social media into your marketing & business development strategy

  • What can you offer your clients? Use social media to accomplish that
  • The days of the 80-page client memo are gone. Edit down and repurpose
  • Success depends on steady stream of value-added content in core areas you want to be known
  • Four things re content: define audience, align business strategy, determine content producers, measure and adapt
  • Use images – helps your content stand out (show vs tell)
  • Create a content editorial calendar
  • Provide thought leadership
  • Repurpose lawyer activities, speaking engagements and content
  • Post important content more than once (shoot for seven) with different messages and pics over the course of a month
  • Video marketing
  • Infographics
  • Use Pinterest to share data and content
  • Use your signature block as a branding tool
  • Find out who’s liking your content
  • Get your lawyers to promote content
  • Streamline processes and manage expectations
  • Be aware of hidden people (people who read but don’t engage – they could be general counsel or your next client)
  • Start with internal communication to drive external
  • Cross reference lawyers’ contacts – integrate connections
  • Encourage lawyers to target certain people to send client alerts
  • Track news activity around contacts
  • Discover what works and what didn’t with analytics
  • Invest in training

Should lawyers have personal blogs or firm-branded?

  • Both work fine – it depends on practice, people practice, location
  • Consider micro sites and blogs
  • No one size fits all

 


What to do about problem tweets?
 

  • General Counsel’s office is your best friend
  • Establish filters
  • Don’t police lawyers’ personal accounts
  • Handled differently based on firm size
  • Have a social media policy
  • Have an active listening campaign – just as important as putting content out
  • Education is key

Building trust via E-Marketing

  • Brand is how we project trustworthiness
  • Beware of legislation around permission based marketing
  • Build trust by delivering value – Relevant content is king
  • Relevant is driven by “opt-in” strategies
  • Opt-in strategies require closed loop systems
  • Always keep fine tuning / monitor – measure – adjust

This is a lot to digest. And there’s more! Check out the #BDI1 hashtag for additional insight and for awesome Twitter folks to follow.