The state of social media strategy in the legal industry is, shall we say, much maligned — and for good reason. After taking a quick look at law firms on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I found that many of the same social media ills that have always plagued law firms are still prevalent.
Many firms, both big and small, still use stock images of gavels, a pile of law books, and/or the scales of justice as their avatars. Similarly, many law firm bios are boring and built from cliché. Compiling a list of the multifarious problems would be to miss the point. After all, it’s easier to summarize the biggest failings simply by noting that far too often law firms are using social media in a way that is: a) not “social” and b) not interactive.
Let’s start with the obvious: the purpose of social media is to be social. The primary function Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so forth is to help people socialize. No one wants to socialize with a faceless, colorless, and “personalityless” corporation.
That’s not to say people won’t always interact with a company or firm with a unique and engaging brand. But if you’re running a social media channel for a law firm, you’ll need to work hard to make sure that your firm’s brand has personality. At a minimum, that starts with ditching cookie-cutter avatars and impersonal bios.
Many firms will probably discover that their best approach may be to encourage the firm’s attorneys to use social media as individuals. The firm’s account can then be used to re-share and promote the attorneys’ tweets, posts, etc. In theory, your attorneys already have personalities and it’s the relationships they create that will lead to business for your firm. If you’re willing to let an attorney represent you at a networking event, don’t be afraid to let them represent you on social media.
Believe it or not, many firms treat their social media accounts as mere delivery tools for blasting out one-way communications to followers. Of course it’s okay to share updates and news via social media, but you also need to balance that with actual direct interactions with your followers. This means re-sharing and liking other user’s content and engaging with other users in conversations. On a higher level, this means using social media to actively build relationships through interactions one tweet or comment at a time.
When it comes to being successful at social media, there is no single “winner-take-all” strategy. What works for one firm might not work for another, and trial-and-error is the best way to determine what works for you. Whatever approach you pursue, I recommend that you create a thoughtful strategy that involves more than using social media as a means for blasting out impersonal, colorless marketing pitches. If your strategy isn’t both social and personal, well, then it it’s terrible.