Law firms are definitely on the social media bandwagon these days. They are tweeting up a storm, and there is broad agreement that LinkedIn probably presents the best opportunities for connecting with in-house counsel and other key decision makers relating to legal spend. This is real evolution for law firms. Just two years ago, when my firm started methodically and actively posting multiple daily updates, a lot of the firm’s partners didn’t really get it. They weren’t sure of the value, and thought it was pretty far fetched that anyone would really connect with what we were posting. Today, I think we have agreement that law firms will be left behind if they are not part of the social media conversation. But what can we do to continue to get better at social media?
The biggest issue I see today with law firm social media is that it is still far from social. Very few updates get much engagement – especially the ones that relate to a recent case, regulation or pending legislation. The ones that really hit generally relate to a partner promotion or award that an individual lawyer received. Why? These updates are about an actual person with a story. Although it’s often a story that we’ve heard a million times: getting that big promotion or winning that prestigious award, the fact remains that these posts make us feel something. They get us involved and excited, and they make us want to reach out with congratulations or at least a “like.”
Getting law firm social media to the next level will take personalization, which is difficult for law firms to achieve. One reason for this is that the law is supposed to be objective. In fact, its purpose is to be the opposite of personal. The rule of law implies an objective set of standards that apply to all people equally regardless of their position, beliefs or reasons for their transgressions or challenges. Lawyers are trained to think in a highly analytical way, but their interpretation of laws and regulations is not supposed to be colored by their background or experience. Although it is close to impossible to live up to this ideal 100 percent of the time, I believe that most lawyers do strive for objectivity about the facts while zealously representing their clients.
Speaking of clients, they are another reason that lawyers will hesitate to tell their personal stories and perspectives. Client information is often confidential, and a lawyer’s experience is made up of his/her interactions with clients. It’s hard to relay a personal story when you really can’t be very specific about the details.
So yes, making law firm social media content relevant, interesting and personal is difficult, but let’s not give up on this goal. Often the first problem to solve is to make sure that we are always looking for a story that demonstrates how the law impacts a person or a company, as explained perfectly by Adrian Lurssen in a recent post.
Here are my top tips on how to bring the social into social media even when you’re posting legal analysis or updates:
Photos of real people from your organization to accompany your post. We’ve all seen and used the stock photography that “represents” cyber security or SEC updates. Does anyone find these interesting? Why do we all continue to post the same bland photos time and time again? I too am guilty of this. We all want a photo to be included because we all know that posts with photos get more engagement, but stock photography is only one step better than no photo at all.
Interviews and top tips with an expert. Maybe your expert is your client who has been impacted by a new law or maybe your expert is a partner at your firm. Either way, interviews and top tips lend themselves to anecdotes and specific stories about the law’s impact, rather than long-form analysis. The update itself should be short. Something like: “Lessons Learned: What we did and didn't do right in complying with GDPR.”
Connect your stories to what is happening in the news. Every day there is at least one news story that is relevant to your clients, a core practice or product you offer or a relevant experience from one of your lawyers. Take a look at trending topics on twitter, as well as what people are reading in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post or Financial Times. What is trending? How does that relate to your firm or your personal experience and perspective?
Remember to react and respond to, share and retweet other people’s posts. This really gets to the heart of what it means to be social on social media. Just like your group of friends or colleagues at work, your social media personas exist in a social ecosystem. Your voice should be strong and present, but when was the last time you enjoyed talking to someone who never asked a question or let you get a word in? Without responding to others on social media, you are becoming that boring guy at the party who never shuts up.
Each social channel is different, but each one likes a personal touch. That personal perspective will be different on each channel. For example, on Facebook, you might post multiple photos of a recent summer social event for your firm. On LinkedIn, you might only post one posed photo with messaging to reflect your firm’s corporate values. Adding a personal perspective can be subtle, but it should be repeated. Don't be afraid to post about your hobbies or passions outside the office. Are you an avid runner? Does your firm support a particular community organization? Do you love your dog? Hiking? You can even bring in your family and experiences on your down time. Your goal is to be a person on social media not just a master of facts relating to your practice.
Remember to build and follow a strategy. Social engagement is great, and it can be a real ego booster, but also remember that your underlying strategy and goals should guide your efforts and the engagement you get should serve your objectives not be objectives unto themselves.