Social Media Marketing For Lawyers
Below is a comprehensive social media marketing launch strategy for lawyers and a few thoughts on the ethical considerations related to lawyer marketing with technology.
The strategy presented is deliberately vague because the topic is immensely broad. LinkedIn as a marketing channel might make sense for one lawyer, while Twitter, Facebook or Quora might make more sense for another.
The point of this post is to get you to think about your bigger picture objectives in a coherent fashion before you dive into execution details.
Step 1: Define Your Marketing Objectives
Everybody wants more clients, but how does that look in your specific practice niche? The more clear and specific you are about your objectives, the easier it will be to define a roadmap for implementation and to measure the return on your investment.
Step 2: Define Your Target Audience
Who is that you want to “speak” to with your new media marketing plan? What precisely does your desired potential client look like? What about journalists and collaborators? Would strategic relationships with these groups advance your marketing objectives?
Getting very specific with your audience definition allows you to develop your conversational style in your new media endeavors. Do not worry that you’ll lose a few potential relationships by being specific. You will attract more and stronger relationships with a coherent, consistent message than you’ll lose with a message that tries to speak to one segment of a broad audience today and another tomorrow.
It’s not enough to have a vague idea that you want to “get social.” You must also look at what platforms are available, where your target audience is likely to be doing their own “socializing” and whether best practices for a given platform are realistic for you in terms of time and budget.
Another consideration is how your current “old media” marketing activities might be impacted and/or whether there might be synergies to leverage.
Step 4: Determine What Value You Bring To The Party
This step is about getting to the core of who you are and what message you want to put out for marketing purposes, aka your “brand.” Defining “you” is an evolutionary process, but this step is designed to give you a jumping off point for charting your first 90-day course of action.
Step 5: Armed With Definitions of “You” & Your Target Audience, Draft Your Core Message
What do you want your audience to know about you and what action do you want them to take? With answers to both these questions firmly in mind, create a core message and messaging strategy appropriate for your chosen channel(s). Culture and best practices for each new media platform vary, and often widely. Therefore channel strategies will vary.
Step 6: Create A 90-Day Implementation Plan
Depending on how ambitious your new media strategy is, it can often make sense to roll out the whole strategy over a period of time, to avoid getting overwhelmed. Even where your strategy is more modest (maybe you’re only tackling one or two platforms), it is still beneficial to map out a 90-day plan with the luxury of getting into more details in the plan before jumping into the thick of things.
New media has a voracious appetite for new content.
This isn’t to say that you’re going to spend half your life in a dark room grinding out articles. There are plenty of ways to make your content creation process less painful, but a formal calendar is a great way to keep yourself on track, sending out a variety of messages on a regular schedule.
Creating this calendar is the mechanism for sitting down and deciding what and how often you are going to push information “out.” This is also a good opportunity to build in time for “engagement,” to the extent you can plan it.
While best practices and some of our industry’s ethical considerations require you to monitor your channels and respond when others reach out to you, you can still plan small chunks of time where you affirmatively look at your channels with the intention of finding opportunities to be the one reaching out on a personal level.
For instance, commenting on blogs or responding to engagement opportunities flagged by your social CRM system.
Step 8: Evaluate & Tweak
If you’re really into business jargon, this is where you measure the “ROI” on your social media marketing plan.
Measuring ROI gets tricky with new media. Both the “return” and the “investment” can be hard to measure. Ideally, you defined both of these in great detail at the beginning of your process and you know what you’re trying to measure. Problems measuring at this point, if any, are a direct result of vague definitions of what you want to measure.
Even where you can measure specific metrics, are they telling the whole “long tail” story? “Returns” in the social world (for both new and old media) are slippery and hard to measure.
Assuming you have your metrics and you understand them (and this could take more than one 90-day cycle to do), then you next need to consider whether anything in your line-up needs to be expanded, contracted or otherwise changed.
Once you’ve “lathered” (and hopefully not “blathered”) your way through your first 90-day cycle, it’s time to rinse and repeat. The system laid out above is intentionally vague enough to work as your roadmap through all subsequent cycles.
Quarterly is not too often to stop and consider whether your marketing message is getting its intended result(s). Your clients are reviewing their business results on a quarterly basis. Why shouldn’t you do the same?
Some Thoughts On The Ethics Of Social Media Marketing In Our Regulated Industry
Lawyers have been notoriously slow to the social media marketing party. Many claim that our industry is simply too highly regulated to participate.
For years, I’ve been beating the drum that social networking and social media marketing are simply new tools, not new concepts. Yes, the new tools are more interactive and you have less control over the flow of information beyond the immediate exchange, but the new world is not so different than a live networking event in a real world social setting.
The difference is that your message – good or bad – can travel at a faster rate of speed and conceivably is committed to writing forever somewhere on the web.
Don’t use this as an excuse to sit the whole party out because believe me, your clients and prospective clients are on that scene, as well as the journalists and collaborators who can get you to more clients and prospective clients.
Learn instead to take a deep breath, and learn to press “publish” or “enter” or “send” only when you’re paying attention and comfortable with how the new technologies work.
And by the way, there are indications from the American Bar Association when they recently considered the issue of lawyers and new technology, that sitting the party out is not the ethical way to roll, either.