Seventy three percent of adults in the United States use social media and yes, surprisingly enough, many of them are attorneys.
According to AVVO Vice President of Marketing, Leigh McMillan, 78 percent of attorneys today use some form of social media. Ms. McMillan presented these findings during the 2015 Annual Super Marketing Conference co-sponsored by Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP) and the American Bar Association Law Practice Division (ABA).
While an overwhelming majority of attorneys favor LinkedIn (96 percent) as their primary social media platform, Ms. McMillan, said attorneys are also turning to Facebook and Twitter to advance their networking and business development efforts:
“Attorneys today spend 1.7 hours a week on social media and 35 percent of attorneys said they acquired clients as a result of their efforts.” However, she explained to the roomful of solo and small firm attorneys, “Social media is less about marketing yourself directly through Google Ads and more about branding and thought leadership.”
4 Insights to Riding the Social Wave
This proliferation of social media tools, which seems to unveil a new offering every day, she said, has attorneys wondering how and where they should participate. Luckily, she offered a few good real-world tips during a panel session aptly titled: “Surviving and Thriving in Social Media.”
1. Identify the Right Social Media Platform.
According to Ms. McMillan, attorneys become overwhelmed because they think they need to be on every social media platform, when the opposite is true. It’s better to hone in on the firm’s five best clients and identify what social media platforms they are using.
For example, if a firm’s clientele is primarily women in their 40s who are employed homeowners, then she said, Facebook is most likely the social media platform the firm should be investing in. Conversely, if a firm’s demographic is predominately men over 38 years of age, the firm should be looking to invest their resources on Twitter.
Ms. McMillan added that 80 percent of men visit Twitter daily to get their news. In other words, it’s about doing your homework and understanding what channels your core clients are using. She recommends doing this exercise a couple times a year, to ensure the firm is investing in the right places.
2. Two certainties in life: Google and mobile.
According to Ms. McMillan the majority of people today do their web searches on mobile devices versus their desktops. She advises attorneys to pay close attention to their presence on social media or, as she put it, “social dresses your Google house.” In other words, the stronger presence an attorney has on social media sites such as: Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Yelp, AVVO, etc. the more prominently the firm and/or attorney will be featured on Google when a prospective client is doing a search on that firm.
“It is better not to engage in social media at all than to do it badly.” – Leigh McMillan, Avvo
3. Know Thy Self.
It is better not to engage in social media at all, added Ms. Mc Millan, than to do it badly. Or, as she put it, “nobody wants to look like the empty grocery store.” In other words, be honest with how much time and energy the firm or the attorney is willing to commit to social media. According to Ms. Mc Millan, there is a spectrum in which attorneys can gauge their appetite for social media engagement which she broke down like this:
a. I’m here. This is the most basic end of the spectrum. It means an attorney has completed their profile on the various social channels e.g. AVVO, LinkedIn, Google+, Yelp, etc. profile. For this level of social engagement she recommends developing a strong profile which includes: a professional headshot, industry awards, educational experience and professional associations.
b. I’m human. This is the next level in the spectrum and enables attorneys to connect more closely to their local community. Typically this will include at minimum one post a week to a company blog or social site such as: Facebook, Google+ or a video post to YouTube or AVVO. It essentially gives prospects and clients a glimpse about who the attorney is on a more personal level.
c. I want to share. At this level of the spectrum, attorneys takes on more of an authoritative role because they are sharing information about important issues to clients and prospects in a timely manner. According to Ms. McMillan 83 percent of clients report want an attorney they believe is knowledgeable. In essence, by sharing relevant information on various social channels, attorneys begin to be viewed as thought leaders in their respective areas of the law.
d. I want to converse. This is by far and away the most sophisticated end of the spectrum, because it requires an attorney not only to share information with the public, but also monitor their audiences’ conversations and respond to them in a timely fashion.
4. Social Media is Not a Billboard. According to Ms. McMillan, the top three things prospective client’s look for when hiring an attorney are:
- Track record
- How Well Respected (the attorney or firm is)
Social media when executed correctly, can help in all of these areas, but she underscored that it is not about directly advertising the firm and more about branding the firm and becoming a respected thought leader.
Harnessing Social’s Infinite Power
With social media sites like Facebook which currently have 1.44 billion users, with the average American using it for 44 minutes a day, and Twitter with 304 million users, according to Ms. McMillan, it’s hard to ignore the power of these channels. It appears the key to success in harnessing this power begins first and foremost, with a commitment to participate and a promise to follow-though. Now who’s ready to dive in?
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