The Internet age. Upside, you get to work from home when you don’t feel like going to the office. Downside, you have to work at home when there’s a blizzard.
Alleviate your workload through social media, if not through a snow day (due to Juno’s underwhelming presence).
Social media has empowered businesses and consumers alike. Individuals have never held so much influence in changing the world with just one click of a button. At the same time, businesses are empowered to advertise their products and services to a market much larger than before.
At first, law firms were a bit slow to take advantage of digital days. Not anymore. Now it’s necessary to task young associates with managing your Facebook page, Twitter account, and—hopefully—blog posts, or risk your bottom line by falling behind.
Here’s how your firm gets noticed:
1. Publish your posts on media aggregators.
Upside: Websites like Reddit, Shoutwire, and Digg allow individuals to submit links to websites, blog posts, or any Internet-based page. The community of readers then votes up (or down) the link based on a review of its content. Create flashy titles and you’ll likely see in a flash the rise of your readership.
Downside: Comments by readers can be harsh. The anonymity of the Internet allows people to wriste down criticisms (NSFW) that may end up permanently cached on the World Wide Web.
2. Add website sharing buttons.
Upside: Your firm’s website should have links to all of your social media accounts, as well as ways to share your posts. Programs like “Click to Tweet” make this easy.
Downside: Your firm may need a small amount of Internet savvy to create buttons on your website and restore broken links.
3. Create interesting content.
Upside: Remember to write thoughtful arguments accompanied with eye-catching photos. There’s so much competition already when it comes to online content, your firm’s additions must stand out.
Downside: Yes, this requires a little more time and thought to write captivating posts and tweets. Consumers would rather see the “Yeti Seen Prowling the Streets Near Boston” than your tips about hiring Of Counsel at your company.
4. Do your research.
Upside: If you know what time your readers are logging on then you’ll know the best time to publish your posts. Maybe you’re getting a lot of hits first thing in the morning. People are remiss to start work at 8am and decide to read legal news or browse the web. With this knowledge, you can now set your social media to publish at certain times to target your audience.
Downside: Due diligence on your casework is no longer enough. Time to do due diligence on your business development, too.
5. Crossover multiple social media platforms.
Upside: Happy you finally mastered the art of blogging for your firm? Time to summarize that blog post on your LinkedIn and Facebook page and compile a 140-character hook for your Twitter account. Don’t be afraid to repeat the same ideas on different mediums.
Downside: Now you’ll have to memorize more usernames and passwords. More social media means more potential backlash.
In the end, it’s possible to get your firm’s name and reputation out there. In fact, the Social Law Firm Index, developed by the Above The Law Blog has a formula that measures social-media metrics. It looks at:
Reach. Represents the total number of unique people who had an opportunity to see the firm’s content. Reach would include number of followers on Twitter and/or LinkedIn, company page likes on Facebook, and followers or subscribers on other social media channels (for example: YouTube channel subscribers or Slideshare followers).
Engagement. Measures the actual interaction with the firm’s content via social media. This would include comments or likes (for status updates) on Facebook, RTs or mentions on Twitter, and likes on LinkedIn.
Owned Media. An assessment of the firm’s own site (including microsites) based on, among other things, the proportion of non-promotional content, frequency of updates, and shareability of content.
So, what conclusions were drawn from this study?
First, size matters. If you’re a small law firm, it’s likely that your reach will never meet that of a Top-20 firm. See, for example, the Top 10 ranking in this Social Law Firm Index here.
But, there’s still hope for small firms. There was a much lower correlation between firm size and engagement. That means small firms can still have high interaction by potential clients in terms of likes (for status updates) on Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as retweets on Twitter.
It’s quality—not quantity—that matters.
The next finding is that from 2013 to 2014, the largest U.S. firms improved both the reach and audience engagement levels by more than 60 percent, on average. That means firms are getting more savvy about their social media and—more importantly—people are listening.
For law firms looking for reasons why they should spend time and money on social media, this finding is especially pertinent. Consumers of legal services are reaching out via social media. Facebook, LinkedIn, blog posts, and Twitter are helping reach new clients at an increasing rate.
Finally, the last important finding worth mentioning is that many firms that were lagging behind in 2013 moved to catch up with market leaders. And this was achieved at rates much more significant than the improvement among already active firms.
What does this mean for you? There’s still time to push social media at your law firm.
Your firm won’t regret that embarrassing Tweet sent out to its thousands of followers; it will only regret not tweeting at all.
How can you maximize the potential of social media while ensuring the appropriate use of intellectual property and customer information? What can counsel do to proactively protect brands from infringement by social networking website users?
As more and more businesses incorporate social media into the promotion of their products and services, they’re also finding that unauthorized use of their trademarks, service marks and trade names are emerging through these same channels.
In fact, a global infringement that once took weeks, months or years to occur, can now take shape as fast as someone can hit “enter” on their keyboard. And, once the infringement is out there in cyberspace, there’s no way of knowing if the offending material is ever truly deleted.
Take the Center for Competitive Management’s audio course, “Copyright and Trademark Enforcement in Social Media: Policing and Protecting Against Brand Infringement,” to learn more.