Whey Social Media Marketing Matters for the Legal Profession
Would You Be a Friend to a Solicitor?
Social media marketing for the legal profession may seem to many to be something of a paradox. Ever since Dick the Butcher exclaimed in Shakespeare’s Henry VI “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” the legal profession has never been considered to be “social.” Possibly the most famous lawyer of all-time – Abraham Lincoln – bemoaned the fact that “There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily dishonest.”
Marketing efforts by the Law Society in the UK over the past two decades have failed to reverse the public perception that the legal profession is “aloof, elitist, greedy, expensive and slow” (Consumer Magazine “Which” Survey 1996) according to a recent Pew Research survey on how the public rated certain professionals, which found lawyers to be the least popular professionals of all!
However, when it comes to law firms using social media as a platform to engage the general public, the Law Society provides an excellent example of how social media marketing for the legal profession can work successfully. Although the @LawSociety Twitter account is mostly followed by other members of the legal profession in the UK, the nature of its Tweets and the information it re-Tweets does encourage followers to talk about it and forward the Tweets on to others in their social media circle.
Does the Legal Profession in the UK Ignore Social Media?
Evidence would suggest that the legal profession in the UK does largely ignore social media. Research conducted by the marketing company Callista found that, of the top 100 law firms in the UK, 24 percent did not have a Twitter account and, of those that did, 30 percent were inactive. More than 50 percent of the law firms in the UK that were active on Twitter had fewer than 200 followers, and only 12 of those that had a substantial following were using Twitter successfully as part of an inbound marketing strategy.
On his website “Real Lawyers Have Blogs,” Kevin O’Keefe (1) – former community leader of America Online’s (AOL) legal community – gave six reasons lawyers need to be using Twitter which we have paraphrased in this article for brevity. He wrote the following:
Twitter is increasingly becoming the go-to place for discussing news issues and expressing opinions. You cannot stay abreast of such news without Twitter.
- Twitter and other social media channels provide insights into what people (your potential clients and referral sources) are thinking about.
- You should not avoid social media marketing because of tradition perceptions about what damage could be done to traditional legal business development.
- Twitter offers a unique opportunity to engage directly with influencers of your clients and prospective clients, such as reporters, bloggers, and association leaders.
- Business blogs and social media are shaping the news. Standing on the sidelines while competing law firms are shaping the news via social media is not where you want to be.
Twitter offers lawyers the opportunity to establish themselves as an intelligence agent of news and information in niche areas of the law. By using the opportunities presented to you by social media marketing for the legal profession you will find prospective clients and referral sources following you on Twitter, giving you the opportunity to build relationships with them.
(1) Kevin O’Keefe was recognised by USA Today as one of the leaders in social media marketing for the legal profession. The magazine wrote “If O’Keefe isn’t careful, he may wind up giving lawyers a good name.”
Increasing Referrals from Word of Mouth Marketing
The last of O’Keefe´s “six reasons” is particularly relevant in relation to social media marketing for the legal profession in the UK as the American Bar Association recently conducted a survey into how people find lawyers, and discovered that 46 percent would consult a friend or family member for a lawyer referral.
With referrals responsible for generating such a high proportion of business for law firms in the UK, even the wisest lawyer could not construct an argument against law firms using social media to increase their word of mouth marketing via social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
The benefits of engaging potential clients while shaping the news and keeping in touch with the views of those affected by it are numerous; not only for word of mouth marketing, but also for building relationships and developing trust (it is a shame that Abraham Lincoln did not have access to Twitter!).
Issues Facing Law Firms Using Social Media
There are genuine reasons why law firms using social media are unable to take advantage of its full potential. Law firms in the UK attract clients from all walks of life in many different legal circumstances, and are therefore unable to prepare personas relating to the “client type” that would most likely use their services.
There are several further issues that could be experienced by law firms using social media – such as breaches of confidentiality, advising your competitors about where you stand on legal and civil issues, and divulging opinions which may deflate arguments that you “later rely on in court.”
However, social media marketing for the legal profession can be manipulated in other ways to increase visitors to your website and engage them in meaningful conversation, which they then share among their social media circles to expand your word of mouth marketing.
Free Advice about Social Media Marketing for the Legal Profession
If you are a partner in a UK law firm, or an employee who has responsibility for increasing your company´s word of mouth marketing, you are invited to call JZMarketing on 0031 24 663 4437 to discuss how social media marketing for the legal profession can attract clients to your law firm (or you can send us an email via the contact box at the side of the page and we will call you back).
Our professional team will guide you through the principles of developing an inbound marketing strategy and explain how law firms using social media can take advantage of many different channels to promote themselves. If your company already engages in social media marketing – but is not seeing the results that you believe you should – you are welcome to ask us about our free social media marketing trial.
Please do not delay in contacting us. This offer will end when we have more lawyers talking to us than we feel comfortable with!