5 Proven Tips for Better Social Media Marketing

social media marketingSunny San Diego. I’d quote Ron Burgundy, but that seems a little inappropriate.

Last month, San Diego was host for Social Media Marketing World 2015 conference. Many of the world’s top social media marketers gathered to talk about the current and future world of social media. (For anyone interested, they have put a lot of the presentations from the conference online. It’s worth a look.)

There were plenty of important takeaways for anyone who uses social media for any aspect of their business. For lawyers and law firms, an industry that hasn’t really jumped on board with social yet, there may have been more. Among the important aspects, the conference gives our profession the chance to innovate with strategies that have been tested by some of the best in the social media marketing industry.

So lawyers, here are 5 Proven Tips for Better Social Media Marketing:

1) Video is the king of content… on all networks.

There’s really no way for me to say (again) how critical video content is for effectively marketing your law firm. Whether it’s on your website, in your ads, or in your social media content, you simply cannot reach the same audience without it.

Everyone knows how big YouTube has gotten, but you may have missed how effective video embedded directly onto Facebook can be. 57% of professional marketers are using video in some portion of their marketing. 72% plan on using video marketing in the near future.

There are plenty of tools available to help you too. Whether you’re looking for professional grade video editing (Final Cut Pro just announced an upgrade allowing you to create three dimensional titles!), or just the basic, the tools are out there. If you need any suggestions, check out my list of Social Media Tools.

What does this have to do with lawyers?

We tend to be behind the times in marketing. So here’s your chance to actually get a jump on the 43% of professional marketers who aren’t using video yet. Social media is a perfect place for you to use video to boost awareness. Take a 90 second video for your attorney bio, but instead of posting it on your website, put it on your LinkedIn profile.

Try this: Not quite ready for feature films? Capture your attorneys being people in a 15 second Instagram video or take a quick tour of your conference rooms on 6-second Vine videos.

2) Visual content is the biggest source of traffic

Is this piggybacking off of #1 a bit? Sort of. Technically yes, video is visual content. But just like the square = rectangle debate from 3rd grade, there is a lot more to visual content than video. Variety is the name of the game on social media. Sure, having good video is excellent, but there are a few problems.

First, it’s not that easy to consistently create amazing, high-quality videos. Second, they take time, to write, to plan, to choreograph, shoot, edit, and produce. But mostly, because you should never rely on one type of content.

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You really shouldn’t.

With all of the visual mediums available today, you have a ton of options. Charts, SlideShare presentations, Infographics, inspirational quotes, funny memes. They all have their own character, and help reach your audience.

What does this have to do with lawyers?

One of the best examples I saw from the reports out of Social Media Marketing World 2015 came via social media trailblazer Kim Garst:


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That’s right, use a visual to show off your client testimonials!

However, there are plenty of other opportunities too: Have a business litigation practice? Put together an infographic of how important business metrics are affected by new regulations. Construction defect litigation? How about a chart showing how much can be saved by engaging with inspectors early?

What if your audience is primarily attorneys? Guess what, we’re human too. LinkedIn says that posts with visual content get double the views of posts without. That’s right – visual content will help you reach any audience. That means no matter what type of practice you have, visual content will help!

Try this: Does your law firm have a brand? It needs one. Make sure that all of your visual content fits your brand. Consistently use the same logo and color scheme so people instantly recognize you. Speaking of consistency…

3) Consistency is more important than frequency

You know what’s really easy to forget? That thing you only see once. It happens, it ends, you move on.

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Low blow, dude.

But you know what’s even worse for a business? Being noticed, then disappearing. Why? Because first, people will forget you. Then when they remember you, they’ll assume you’re gone. Seriously, is there any major company that you just stopped hearing about? Without significant investigation, you assume they’ve gone the way of the dodo.

More importantly, social media is about establishing a network, connecting with people. Bombarding someone with posts is meaningless if you don’t have anything important to say. For example:

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Let this serve as an honest to God example of how NOT to be “social” on social media. (Read the amazing sendup that Sam Glover did on this guy here.)

Consistency, on the other hand, creates value. If you build it, they will come. Provided it has good parking and high-quality concession stands. People will come back if you give them a reason – high-quality content.

Produce that content on a regular basis, even if it’s only once every two weeks, and your network will grow.

What does this have to do with lawyers?

As I demonstrated above, being on social media, even being active on social media, doesn’t matter if you’re not providing high-quality content. Too many attorneys think that social media is nothing but a pure advertising platform.

Attorneys who think that way will never get the most out of social media. Instead, they’ll appear as examples on blogs like this.

Try this: find one interesting article, blog post, published case, or social media post and share it to your connections on LinkedIn. Make sure it’s good, make sure it means something, and write two sentences about it when you share.

It’ll take no time at all, but I guarantee that it will improve your network. You’ll get more connection requests, you’ll get more profile views.

You will expand your social network.

4) Post like a fan, not a marketer

While you’re at home this weekend, pick up your computer and spend 30 minutes on your personal social media networks. As you go through the posts, what do you like? What types of posts catch your eye or make you click on the link to read an article?

Odds are there’s a reason you’re drawn to them. And your followers really aren’t any different than you are.

Don’t think about what the best way to sell to your followers might be. That misses the point. Think about they most want to see, to read, to interact with. For the most part, people don’t go onto social networks to be sold something (except maybe Pinterest).

So what? Has that stopped people from buying things while on there? If it did, I don’t think Facebook and Twitter would have added “buy now” buttons.

Thinking like a marketer will result in sales pitches, thinking like a fan will get you Likes, follows, new connections, and new business.

What does this have to do with lawyers?

We’re miserable at marketing, but I’m not entirely sure that’s our fault. There are one or two practice areas that lend themselves to traditional forms of marketing. For the rest, establishing a referral network is considerably more important. Yet marketing “experts” have gotten rich advising firms about promotion, but their only experience with marketing is in products that sell.

Stop thinking about your social media marketing as marketing in the first place. There’s a reason it starts with “social.”

Try this: Pick two social networks. Look at the first three posts in each one that have at least 10 comments. For your next three posts to each network, use the exact post type you saw (photo, video, animation, infographic, text-only, etc.), and the exact same tone and amount of text.

Compare those posts to your three most recent posts. You’ll like what you see. Primarily, because just like those users, you liked what you saw.

5) “Hug your haters”

Dealing with negative reviews is the newest “it” thing for companies that sell, well, anything. Social media expert Jay Baer, presenting from the theme from his new book of the same name, used the keynote for a discussion about responding to negative reviews.

Guess what, this is important to everyone. We’ve all seen the horribly negative reviews that people post online. We also tend to assume that, for the most part, people who post online comprise the unhappy 1% who just need to vent. Or get out of their house.

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Regardless how reassuring that image might be, it’s just not true (at least anymore).

According to Jay’s presentation, 71% of consumers who post negative reviews online do so as a result of the failure of traditional customer service avenues. On the other hand, responding to a complaint (and I don’t mean refuting the complaint, there’s a difference!) can actually boost the online advocacy of your followers by 20%.

What does this have to do with lawyers?

Probably more than for nearly anyone else.

First, just in case you think that lawyers are somehow immune from the online review system, check this out: 83% of consumers go online to look for an attorney. As of almost a year ago, about 60% of them trust Yelp more than any other site.

You’re going to get a negative review posted about you online. How you handle that review is as permanent and public as the review. So do it right (unlike this lady).

Oh, and in case you needed any additional incentive, here’s another nugget from Jay’s presentation:

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Anyone else concerned with what the practice of law might look like in 2020? Create brand advocates. People are willing to pay a lot more for an Apple product right now. There’s a reason.

Try this: Get out in front on this issue. Ask your followers what the worst part of their most recent legal matter was. Then ask what your law firm could do to make the experience better.

Whether your customers are in-house GCs, insurance companies, personal injury plaintiffs, small businesses, or even government agencies, everyone likes to know that they’re being listened to. Everyone likes to have their complaints heard and addressed.

And who knows, you might even learn something!