Social media for law firms: 4 tips to stay up-to-date

So, your nephew told you Facebook is “cheugy” and you read something about Instagram heading in a new direction, but don’t really understand what happened. Don’t let the fact that social media is always changing scare you away from it. Yes, trends come and go and new platforms spring up overnight, but the core elements of social media as a marketing tool for law firms—it’s an excellent way to speak directly to prospective legal clients and a powerful tool for expressing your law firm’s brand—remain unchanged.

In this post, we’ll give you a quick update on what has changed with some of the most popular platforms before reiterating what you really need to know about using social media to market your practice.

What social media platforms should lawyers use?

You know of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but not every social media platform should be marketed to (if at all). A lot is going on with social media nowadays. Here are four headline-grabbing developments you may have heard of but not thoroughly understood.

  • Do I need to be on TikTok? As of this writing, probably not. TikTok, a platform where users can create, share and watch short video clips, became immensely popular during the COVID-19 pandemic because people were in quarantine and badly needed a little levity, like the dancing and lip-syncing content TikTok is known for. At the moment, there isn’t much evidence that legal consumers are using it to educate themselves about their circumstances or law firms they’re considering hiring. That may not be the way it is forever – several doctors, therapists and other professionals have gained significant followings by creating short informational videos – but for the time being, TikTok is fine for personal use but most likely not a need-to-have from a legal marketing perspective.
  • What are Twitter Circles? In the interest of driving growth and remaining competitive with newer, upstart social media platforms, Twitter is test-driving a number of new features. One of them is Twitter Circles. It’s a way for account holders to share certain information with select followers, rather than with all of them. Right now, Twitter Circles is mostly of interest to accounts with large followers (Twitter doesn’t have a mechanism for account holders to charge for content shared in Circles, but if they catch on, that may not be far off). Unless you have an audience in the thousands – and if you do, well done! – Twitter Circles are most likely a feature you don’t need to focus on right now.
  • Is Instagram still photo-based? Primarily, yes. When Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri announced the platform (which is owned by Facebook) would focus more on videos, probably as a means to compete with TikTok, many users objected. In light of the backlash, Instagram backed off a little bit. That was probably a feint, because all social media platforms need to change to keep up with user behavior and if TikTok’s popularity stays strong, Instagram is unlikely willing to stay in place. For now, you’re just fine continuing to use it to share photos, but it wouldn’t hurt to try a video or Instagram Reel now and then and see if your audience responds favorably.

What do law firms need to know about social media?

In essence, social media is a useful and effective tool for expressing your brand and showing legal consumers who you are and what it’s like to work with you. Here are four important things to keep in mind:

1. There are social media fads, but social media itself isn’t a fad.

Do you remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? That died out around 2015. There have been plenty of fads like that, and there will be plenty more. But social media itself isn’t a fad. Pew Research Center began tracking social media use among American adults in 2005. Since then, the percentage of adults who use some form of social media has increased from 5 percent to 72 percent. In short, social media isn’t going anywhere.

2. Don’t overextend yourself.

If you try to stay on top of every new platform or every trend, you’re going to spread yourself too thin. You have a practice to attend to, after all, and while social media is useful, it’s not your top priority. Start with LinkedIn and if you feel comfortable with the trade-off of investment and reward, move on to Twitter, Facebook and perhaps Instagram. (Of course, you can always hire a digital legal marketing vendor to manage your social accounts for you). Starting with the most professional platform and moving forward if and when you feel like you’ve mastered it will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

3. Define for yourself what success looks like.

It’s far too easy to compare your social media presence to someone else’s and get envious or think you aren’t doing well. Instead of giving in to those feelings of insufficiency, remind yourself that you have different goals and priorities. You can determine on your own what’s good enough for you. Plus, having a rough sense of what you consider to be a success will help you with benchmarking, since it’s easier to calculate the return on investment in terms of time and effort.

4. Social media isn’t solo.

Social media marketing is an excellent way to promote your practice and your services, but it’s best when it works as part of a larger marketing plan. That is to say, social media won’t do as much as it could without a contemporary-looking website that appeals to clients, a blog that shows you’re knowledgeable, and other means of communicating in different ways through different channels. No one aspect of your marketing plan should mean you neglect any other.

Hopefully, this post has brought you up to speed with the ever-changing world of social media and helped you retain your focus on what’s really important. If you are interested in more in-depth information on how to build, develop and sustain your law firm’s brand on social media, our guide “Branding and Social Media: How They Work Together to Build Your Firm’s Business” is available for complimentary download.

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