AJS South Africa


The “How-To” Guide

Have you recently found yourself scrolling through Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn wondering what all the hype was about?

Sure the pictures are great (you have found loads of décor ideas to revamp your guest bathroom on Pinterest) and yes you are fascinated by Bailey Sarian’s Murder, Mystery, Makeup Tutorials (who isn’t?) but how can you do the voodoo that they do so well?

We bet that you find yourself feeling a little under-gunned, a little unsure and a little unprepared.

This whole “social media thing” is a little daunting. It’s a little mysterious. And honestly with things like Likes, Follows, Shares and Tweets – it is very hard to know where to start. 

But that’s completely understandable. 

Frank Sinatra’s song You do something to me, seems to ring a little true when speaking about Social Media, don’t you think?  

“You do something to me
Something that simply mystifies me
Tell me, why should it be
You got the power to hypnotize me
Let me live ‘neath your spell
Do do that voodoo that you do so well
‘Cause you do something to me
Nobody else could do”

Social Media does something that nothing else can do

From last week’s article Social Media For Lawyers – Is it time to hop on the social media gravy train?, we have learnt that social media has an almost unparalleled potential (in terms of reach, cost and engagement) to bring an amazing return on investment for any business. And this includes law firms. 

We now know that it is also a great way to engage with existing clients, build relationships (and trust) with potential clients, simply by maintaining a social presence across various social media platforms. By doing so, you allow people who require legal services to reach out to your law firm first. Giving you a competitive edge and humanising both your practice and your approach. Being easy to reach, easy to talk to and easy to do business with is crucial for ongoing and repeat business. Because it’s all about ease and comfort and getting to know one another in order to do ongoing business. Marketing 101 really.

And social media truly allows for that “easiness”. 

There are so many platforms to choose from. So many options to help you connect and generate leads and new business.

And that is extremely exciting!

I mean, let’s recap some of the benefits we learnt from last week – 

  1. Budget friendly marketing; 
  2. Brand awareness; 
  3. Brand personality; 
  4. Engaging with clients; 
  5. Strengthening your thought leadership; 
  6. Attracting prospective clients; 
  7. Reputation management, and 
  8. Monitoring conversations around your law firm.

And with so many positives and benefits to getting your law firm on to the social media gravy train, the very next question should inevitably be – 

How do you dispel with the spell of social media?

There is a lot going on where social media is concerned. And that can leave you feeling somewhat hypnotized, sort of under a spell as to what to do first. So let’s do away with that shall we?

An article titled Checklist: 10 social media marketing basics for budding businesses, discusses some of the basics of getting your business on to the socials. Like – 

Choose your social media channels wisely!

How do you decide where you need to be seen and easily identified?

“Big Brands” (or more specifically the most valuable brands in the world) with millions of followers (and therefore potential clients) have a presence across multiple social media platforms. These “Big Brands” have an almost unlimited budget (I mean everyone has a budget right?) and resources to be everywhere all at once.  But what about the smaller businesses and the one-man legal practices?

Well, these smaller businesses and one-man legal practices need to decide which platforms will make the most sense for their clients and potential audiences. You cannot dominate them all. Unfortunately. So focus on what makes sense to you.

Here are a few to consider –  

  • Twitter – a solid starting point for most businesses requiring minimal setup. It allows a business to interact in a sort of “back and forth” flow directly with clients and is the go-to platform for customer service.
  • Instagram – centered around visual content, it is a major hub for brick-and-mortar businesses, ecommerce shops and influencers alike. It allows and encourages brands to be creative. From beautiful and insightful imagery to clever captions, it helps brands be unique.
  • LinkedIn – a network focused on business trends and networking.
  • YouTube – encourages businesses to do interesting videos and/or tutorials on their business and what they can offer. It is the go-to for a complete marketing strategy, especially since it is free to use. YouTube also allows people to find you on Google (since it is owned by Google).

But there are more. And each one has its own pros and cons (we will get into those in later articles). Remember – simply posting any old content just for the sake of posting content, won’t work. Your audience will see straight through it. So post strategically keeping that in mind. 

Complete your profile!

This may seem like an obvious one but many businesses actually fail to do this.

But this step is among the most important social media marketing basics. So complete your profile. Simple as that. Not only does this make your profile appear more professional, but it will also make your business easier to find. 

Why? Well, social media results are often the first bits of information to pop up for any small business on Google. So, by having all your information readily available (like your business’ name, address and other essential information), you naturally become easier to find. And that’s the aim of the game really – to make your law firm not only distinguishable but also easy to get a hold of

So perhaps consider the following tips when completing your profiles – 

  • Your profile pictures and cover photos – it’s important that your business profile “looks the part”. Ensure that your images are not only interesting and original but that they are also properly and appropriately sized. A grainy photo can make your law firm appear amateurish. If you need to create social photos from scratch, look into tools like Canva which has many pre-made social image templates to help you along.
  • Fill in your bios and “About” sections – fill in as many details about your business as you possibly can. Again, people often look at social media results before checking your website. They especially appreciate insights into who you are and what you do. Reviews about your work are also key. So be sure to include these. 
  • Follow, follow and follow some more– this is not the time for social distancing. You won’t get much out of a social media presence and a following if you remain an island. Following others shows that you are an active participant in the social space and not just an empty profile. Whether its competitors, industry leaders or even potential clients, make a point to follow fresh profiles to see how other people are doing the voodoo they do so well.

Now that the basic stuff is “sorted”, let’s move on to some of the more important practical things that were discussed in the articles titled Social Media For Law Firms: 10 Best Practices and The guide to winning social media for law firms – 

Ensure that an effective social media policy is in place

As law firms it is always good to have contingency plans in place. Sure – you cannot accurately predict when a social media crisis will actually occur. But having a pre-emptive social media policy in place (setting out crucial information required to carry out social media activities, information on how to identify a social media crisis as well as what the internal communication process is when handling a social media crisis) will ensure that you are better prepared.

Since prevention is better than the cure, it is best to create an approval process for social media content, only allowing posts that comply with your overall message and voice (as well as your policies).

Share original graphics with useful facts 

Firstly – post consistently by following a consistent posting schedule. This will also help you avoid posting too much, which can also be off-putting for your followers. And that is absolutely key. 

Secondly, visuals play a crucial role in social media marketing as they tend to stand out over text content. So focus on creating visuals that will immediately attract and engage your audience. You can share inspirational quotes, useful legal tips, basic legal information and industry updates all through original graphics that stand out. This is especially important if you’re going to use image-heavy platforms like Instagram. Make the most of free design platforms like Canva and Snappa to help you with this.

Lastly, remember to have fun! Provide fun ways to engage with your clients, like hosting live videos with exciting updates or news. The sky is the limit here.

Promote awareness 

When someone is struggling with a legal issue, they will most likely look for reassurance online. And this is especially true where social media is concerned – which law firm has said what and how does it relate to my situation?  

Information is power, and social media helps to spread information like wildfire. Therefore, as a law firm, you should seek to be your audience’s main source of legal information and ensure that they remain well informed and aware of their rights in your area of practice. 

The content on your social media feed will represent your potential in solving legal issues effectively whilst also assuring that your clients (and prospective clients) can trust you, your legal expertise and your skills.

You can also use social media to your benefit – by sharing client testimonials you can easily highlight your skills without sounding to “salesy”.  Perhaps you can also give your audience a heads up on social media if something interesting is about to happen by sharing upcoming amendments to legislation etc. 

If it is informative, interesting and will show your law firm in a good light – share it!

Respond to comments and queries

Social media is a platform with which you can build connections and engage with your clients (and prospective clients) on a regular basis. Consumers often depend on social media as a brand-consumer communication channel. They read reviews, look at profiles, comments and pictures. The “whole picture” will draw them to one law firm over another. So paint a good one for them. 

Show them that you care. Reply to comments and queries. Make yourselves available and contactable. Show your audience that you are listening and are there to help.

Leverage off hashtags 

  • Wait. What is a hashtag?
    A word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), is used on social media websites and applications to identify digital content on a specific topic.

Hashtags help you to increase your reach. They keep social media content related to particular topics organised. And why is this helpful? Well, some people prefer to follow a specific topic by searching specifically for its relevant hashtag. They will therefore regularly check to see if something new has been posted. So if those people find your posts interesting, they may end up following you to keep up to date with similar content. Bingo! #awesomeness

Tell your story

Law firms should use social media to tell their story. 

It is so important to humanise your brand and your law firm – allowing your audience to form an emotional connection with you. And over time, this will enable you to win their trust and loyalty far more easily. Because you put in the work from the get-go.

Share stories about your law firm’s achievements, its history, its people, birthdays, wedding announcements, baby announcements. Whatever else that needs announcing. Make yourself approachable. 

And most importantly, put a human face to your brand!

Make use of tools to remain consistent in your efforts

If your audience comes across an outdated post on your social media feed, they are more likely to hop on to another law firm’s page. They want their law firm to be relevant. Up to date. And having outdated posts on your social media feed results in a loss of credibility.

To avoid this (like the plague!) you need to ensure that your page is updated with new, fresh and relevant content. Regularly. If you don’t have time to post manually on every social media platform (or don’t have a dedicated person to do this), consider using social media management tools that will publish content regularly (once scheduled).

Tools like Sprinklr assist you by means of AI to create, schedule, and publish multiple social media posts across several social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn etc. all at once. In addition, these tools will help you measure your return on investment, your performance and gain actionable insights into engagement, audience demographic and team performance.

Remaining consistent with your posting (as we said above) is key.

Engage, Engage, Engage!

Social media is not all about you. Sorry to say. It is about your following, your audience and your clients. 

You need to comment on posts, retweet, publish content of others and get yourself and your law firm noticed on social media by being an active participant. Interacting with fans, clients (and prospective clients) allows you to show off your personality and introduce yourself to new followers by showing them who you are. 

Try and interact with at least a few profiles every day. Focusing on relationships and engagement takes a few seconds and will score you major brownie points!

Promote your social media channels

Now that you are getting the gist of this whole “social media thing”, do not rely on it solely. We know – after all this – it feels like such a letdown

But you need to get your message (i.e. your social profiles) out to the masses in other ways. Use your email newsletter, footers and signatures, your site headers and footers to promote your social media pages (the little icons are so cute).

You can also cross-promote between social media sites (for example: promoting your YouTube channel on Instagram).

Whatever you need to do to get your social media presence noticed (within reasonable means), do it!

To tie things up

We agree, this whole “social media thing” with all its trends and terminology might be scary and may even create a little anxiety. But don’t panic. 

There are so many opportunities to use social media for marketing your services and engaging with your clients (and prospective clients). So, make sure you get the social media basics right first and then try out some of the more important practicalities we set out above. 

But – as always – remember to be responsible, cautious and respectful. 

Do not post anything derogatory or defamatory and always remember that your law firm’s reputation is at stake with everything that you post.

As Dave Willis said – 

“Don’t use social media to impress people; use it to impact people’.

So make an impact. In the right way. 

Going forward we will be discussing the different social media platforms and how best to use them – so be sure to check back with us! 

Written by Alicia Koch on behalf of AJS

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