Your law firm probably isn’t great at social media. Your lawyers are likely worse.
But, according to Stefanie Marrone and Mike Mellor, there’s good news for legal marketers: Social media is filled with low-hanging opportunities to stand out in a space in which in-house counsel are constantly seeking out their next hire.
Stefanie and Mike – who lead business development and marketing at Tarter Krinsky & Drogin LLP and Pryor Cashman LLP, respectively – shared these and other insights at the February 21st New York luncheon, “Social Media Marketing: Turning Reach Into Revenue.” The event, attended by about 100 legal marketers, was hosted by American Lawyer Media at the ALM offices in Midtown Manhattan.
A social media presence can give a firm a leg up for business development. Mike noted that more than half of the decision-making in the professional services sales cycle is done before the first direct contact with the provider, according to one study. Moreover, 77% of in-house counsel tend to be “invisible users” who don’t directly like or share the content they find online, even if they are doing an extensive amount of digital homework.
The bottom line is that a lack of social media thought leadership can torpedo your business development efforts by leading GCs to look elsewhere.
“You’re out of the game before you even know you’re in the game,” Mike said. “It’s important to really understand that these folks are out there doing a lot of stalking.”
Stefanie noted that a law firm’s ultimate goal in social media is developing new business by being client-centric at all times and staying top-of-mind for in-house counsel. Notably, she said, lawyer training is often as important – if not more important – than a marketer’s direct online efforts.
While maintaining robust law firm social media accounts is important, she said, “the more important thing is employee advocacy” – training your lawyers on properly leveraging LinkedIn to like and share law firm news, for example.
Reflecting the broad landscape of social media, the hour-long discussion covered a wide range of topics and issues. Some key takeaways:
- Social media is a low-hanging, low-cost, largely untapped resource for lawyers.
- Consider the “humblebrag” when posting – don’t pat yourself too hard on the back or you may fall over.
- Business development goals are achieved by building targeted relationships and providing helpful curated and original content for clients.
- Managing lawyers’ expectations is important. Social media marketing is a long-term endeavor that may not show immediate return on investment.
- Every piece of social media you post should have a visual element. 40% of users respond better to visual elements than to text alone.
- In-house counsel want content that helps them do their jobs, in the form of articles, alerts and newsletters, respectively.
- There are a number of free content tools that enable marketers to create high-quality social media postings. These are as varied as the writing aid Grammarly, the hashtag generator Hashtagify and the visual tool Canva.
- Marketers should learn to “COPE” on social media: create once, publish everywhere.
- The best times to share on social media are commuting times and lunch hours.
- Twitter in particular provides the opportunity to engage directly with reporters and thought leaders in your field.
- Building a repository of evergreen content will help carry you through lulls in news events.
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator and promoted content can be useful tools in developing a multi-prong strategy to reach potential clients.