Claudia King is something of a social media pioneering lawyer in New Zealand. The founder of “LegalBeagle” and an early adopter of social media and online marketing she has developed an enviable presence with online media.
LawFuel spoke with her about how lawyers should best use social media and some of the tips and tricks to successfully adopting it as a branding and marketing tool.
How should a law firm use social media?
I think how each law firm should use social media depends on their marketing strategy, marketing plan, their “firm personality” and target market. A more high end corporate law firm will probably find LinkedIn to be a good use of social media.
A regional general practice firm will probably have more success using Facebook to actively engage with clients and other interested people.
Social media is a fantastic way for law firms to get their content and brand in front of their referrers and target market, and while keeping a consistent social media schedule takes time and effort, the cost in terms of dollars of promoting your firm via social media is minimal.
Keeping up a good social media strategy as part of your overall marketing plan does take time and effort and needs to be committed to regularly and consistently over time, but the benefits are worth it in my view.
While one social media platform might suit a certain type of law firm better and promoting the firm via this social media platform should be the key focus of a firm’s strategy, I still think it is good to be active across a range of social media platforms.
Again this depends on a firm’s strategy and marketing plan. At Legal Beagle we focus on providing relevant content via blog posts, guides and other resources on our website about topics related to our core services being conveyancing, wills, family trusts and small business law, and then promoting this content via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
We don’t use sponsored ads on Twitter or LinkedIn although we have tried LinkedIn ads but so far without any decent results.
We are currently looking at Instagram and whether this is an option for us and it looks promising.
How important is social media marketing for law firms – particularly smaller firms – today?
I think it is super important and it is surprising that more firms aren’t into social media considering the low cost of doing it. Plus it’s fun.
We live in a world where businesses are expected to have a quality online presence that engages people and those who aren’t working on achieving this will likely be in trouble down the track.
It’s not enough these days to have a pretty website that provides a bit of generic info about your services and team members, firms need active and interesting websites and social media accounts to engage clients, referrers and friends and drive these people to their firm websites.
Budgets are clearly a common issue for smaller firms
Many smaller firms will have a low or limited marketing budget and social media is a good use of this budget because of the way you can measure how much you spend per lead and per conversion, whereas it is much more difficult to measure these kinds of results with more traditional forms of advertising like print and radio.
What have you learnt about using social media and how is it changing?
It is becoming harder to get a good reach on social media without spending money to boost posts, so it is becoming more expensive. However, the cost of it is still low compared to Google Adwords or more traditional types of advertising like print and radio.
What do you like about Facebook advertising?
One of the good things about Facebook advertising is you can quite accurately measure your “bang for your buck” in terms of your advertising spending using the analytics and insights that Facebook provides.
You can also see how many conversions you get by adding a pixel or conversion tracker to your website. For example, we have pixel added to our quote tool so that we can see how many people go to our website from Facebook and get a free quote.
The ability to target specific people gets better all the time. For example, you can put customer details into Facebook so customers can be identified and then you can target sponsored ads at your own clients for cross-selling purposes.
Also, more and more software is popping up to help you manage your social media better and faster. There are so many options available, like Lead Pages for example which helps you to create multiple landing pages to see what gets the best results and most conversions from people landing on your website.
There is also software like Buffer that allows you to organise all your social media in advance so you can sit down on a Sunday and schedule all your posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc for the coming week in an hour rather than having to do a bit each day during the week.
There is also fabulous graphic design software like Canva that allows you to make beautiful branded graphics at either no cost or a very low cost.
What are the ‘must dos’ that you would like to mention?
There are so many excellent must dos but I have picked a few for law firms:
Adding relevant content to your target market and referrers to your website is key.
To make this work, I recommend you have an “editorial and social media calendar” that you can stick to. I have an easy to follow template that I’d be happy to share with anyone who is interested.
For example: on Mondays we write a blog post on a pre-planned topic and publish it on the website so it gets sent to our blog subscribers and post a newsy non-sponsored post on our Facebook page about our firm (eg. Team celebrations, new team members, moving to our new offices etc)
on Tuesdays we usually have a day off social media stuff
on Wednesdays we do a Facebook post about our new blog post and promote this on Twitter and LinkedIn
on Thursdays we create a sponsored ad for our latest blog post on Facebook to get traffic to our website
on Fridays we offer “Free Advice Friday” via Facebook and Twitter which allows any of our followers to contact us with any legal questions they have and our legal team will answer their questions for free.
Do you use an editorial calendar?
I prepare an editorial calendar for 3 months at a time.
I sit down and pick 3 main topics, 1 for each month, for example April was small business law month, May was property month and June is trusts month and then I identify 4-5 blog post topics under each topic so I know well in advance what we’ll be posting about each week.
We have copywriters who write blogs posts for us, and our team also writes blog posts – it’s a bit of a mix. We are currently planning our editorial calendar for the 3 month period for July – September so this is ready to go as soon as we hit July.
It only takes a few hours to prepare the editorial calendar and putting it together is great fun – I love thinking of all the interesting things we’ll get an opportunity to share with our clients and followers.
- Decide your Firm Personality. During your marketing planning, decide on what the personality of your law firm is and be consistent with this personality across social media. Be authentic and have fun with it. Create a firm mission that is ridiculously inspiring to you and let your marketing planning flow from that.
- Join some online groups in Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and become known as the legal expert in that group. If you can’t find a group, create one yourself and invite others in your circle of influence to join. Post regularly with handy tips or links to articles that will interest the members – these don’t have to be articles you’ve written but it would be good if at least some of the articles were on your website so you can drive traffic to your site.
- Use Google Analytics on your website to find out where people are spending time on your site, how long they’re spending, and which page they’re leaving on. These insights are so important to improving your online presence. Google Analytics is fascinating but time consuming so you might like to outsource this.
- Be consistent – commit to a plan and stick to the plan no matter what. If you’re having trouble keeping up with your plan, look at outsourcing to a virtual assistant or other social media expert to ensure you stick to your plan. Success from social media is not instant, it takes time.
What is the best way of handling the ‘time’ issue in terms of updating and embracing media?
This can be a tricky one, particularly in smaller firms where you don’t have a dedicated marketing person. I’ve experienced the time issue myself many times over the last few years since launching Legal Beagle.
I recommend you look for someone within your firm whose personality represents your firm’s personality/brand and is tech and social media savvy.
Then organise for them to have some quality social media training as well as training in Canva. If you’re needing to employ a new lawyer/legal exec/support person this is an excellent opportunity to add social media and marketing responsibilities to their job description so that you hire someone suited to this work.
When organising social media training for a staff member I would steer clear of social media trainers and instead look at a local business who has a really good social media campaign that you admire and talk to them and see if there social media person can come in and provide some training.
About 5 months ago I employed a marketing and social media co-ordinator who works about 10 hours per week for us and she does an amazing job of co-ordinating everything and making our social media run like clockwork.
She also co-ordinates our lawyers’ personal marketing plans which support our firm’s overall marketing plan. Firms could also look at outsourcing this function to a virtual assistant who is experienced in this area – I have not tried this myself but I’ve heard it works well if you get a good VA.
>> Read About Developing a Social Media Plan, From Digital Media Expert A J Smith of Imperial Digital – Read Here
>> How Lawyers Can Use Social Media to Control Their Online Presence: Social media expert Cathy Mellett – Read Here