The lawyer sitting next to you at the conference is busy writing a tweet for Twitter, another is taking a selfie to post on Facebook. It seems that everyone except you are busy using social media to market their practice. Should you jump into the social media pond?
Maybe, maybe not.
Social media has its good and bad points. To understand what is best for you, your first step is to analyze your practice. Understand the legal service you offer in order to know your target market—their age, demographic, economic position. Knowing your practice will help sort out the pluses and minuses of using social media and decide which social media platform is right for you.
What is social media?
Social media is defined (Merriam Webster) as: “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos)”
Think Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and so forth. Each attracts a particular audience. If that audience includes your target market, you could consider joining the group.
The advantages of using social media:
· Social media marketing is cost effective AKA free. You can sign up, create a profile and post information without paying a cent.
· You can reach consumers that never come to your speaking events or read your newsletter or your blog. Your tweets find new readers who will comment or retweet your tweet to their followers leading to an even larger audience.
· You gain name and brand recognition.
· People come to know you by your choice of words, style of writing, topics you pick. Use an easy to read style, offer real information and show them you are approachable and they will be loyal and frequent readers.
· Social media builds relationships.
· Use visitor analytics and readers’ comments to learn more about your audience. Knowing their interests will help you find topics for them.
· You can post a link to social media on your website and your SBM Enhanced Profile, making it easy for readers to find you.
The disadvantages of social media marketing:
· Time—time is money, time spent on social media is not billable time, time you don’t have, which means if you start a social media be sure you are aware that time must be set aside to continue the postings.
· Content needs to be written, edited, revised and published—again a time issue.
· Social media creates demands on your talent; posts need to relevant to your practice and interesting to a wide variety of readers. Fortunately, as a lawyer, you have access to a variety of topics with the weekly SBM e-journal and the SBM news-links posted daily.
· You lose control of your content. Everything you publish is available to be commented upon positively or negatively by all who read it.
· Social media doesn’t have a quick return on your investment. It builds relationships and firm loyalty over time so you need to decide to be in it for the long haul.
Social media can bring many benefits and increased profits to your practice, but it does come with limitations. With good planning, you’ll be successful. If you decide to start a social media account, it could be you taking “selfies” and posting news items to your readers at the next conference. You’ll be in good company.