As we have all experienced, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned our worlds upside down. Personally, professionally, and otherwise, we have all had to make major changes to our daily routines. Being relegated to the confines of our home and the occasional trip to the grocery store, it is easy to feel isolated and disconnected with our family, colleagues, and peers. This is why now, perhaps more than ever before, we as marketers need to reexamine our business development strategies and take them from occasionally virtual to full-time FaceTime.
In the era of social distancing, it’s all about social media. Legal marketing experts Stefanie Marrone and Kristyn Brophy recently delivered a webinar examining how lawyers can use social media and other tech tools to stay connected to clients and colleagues. While many of the regular rules still apply, there are some aspects of our digital content strategy that need to be adjusted so that we can avoid the possibility of coming off tone-deaf during a highly sensitive time. Additionally, there are new tactics we can begin to employ that ensure we continue to come off genuine, helpful, and most importantly, empathetic.
Which Social Media Standards Still Apply?
Don’t get too caught up in analytics. Of course, we want to keep some aspects of our social media analytics at the forefront, such as what time our posts perform the best and which hashtags we should be using. But remember, according to a 2019 Greentarget survery, about 77% of in-house counsel are in “listen only” mode when it comes to their social media use. In other words, just because they aren’t liking, sharing, or commenting on your posts, doesn’t mean they aren’t seeing them. Even if they don’t always click on the call-to-action doesn’t mean they don’t recognize that you are regularly posting about certain topics and will associate those topics with you down the line.
Content isn’t king. Current and useful content is king. The same Greentarget survey found that in-house counsel and corporate executives are more likely to engage with content that is current, useful, and eye-catching. Use short, attention-grabbing headlines and ensure the content is truly helpful to the reader. In other words, don’t just report the latest breaking headline. Provide a meaningful breakdown of the impact the headline could have on your clients.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Lawyers often spend a considerable amount of time researching and producing a piece of content. When sharing that content to your audience, be sure to disseminate that content across all of your platforms (email advisory, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.), of course being mindful to adjust the messaging for each platform (read more about that here) Moreover, avoid the one-and-done approach. Most pieces of content address multiple issues and impacts, allowing you to create multiple posts over time that drive traffic to that content.
Don’t forget about the low-hanging fruit. Sometimes the most obvious touchpoints are the most overlooked. LinkedIn sends us notifications when our connections have birthdays, work anniversaries, promotions, or job changes. Encourage your attorneys to use these as an excuse for reaching out – especially when it comes to connections with whom they haven’t had much contact with as of late. If they notice a connection has an anniversary, they should congratulate them on LinkedIn. But bring it one step further – have them send an email to congratulate the person and ask if they’d like to catch up over coffee. Boom – you’ve begun to thaw out a relationship gone cold.
What Should We Be Doing Differently?
Avoid self-congratulatory posts. Gone are the days of patting ourselves on the back. Not only is it insensitive to our connections whom have lost their jobs, it just makes us look totally tone-deaf. There is too much devastation happening in the world to send out a “Look at me!” type of message. Publish a press release about Chambers rankings on the firm website, but don’t post about it on social media.
Instead, focus on displaying genuine empathy. When asking lawyers to create content, supply them with questions they might ask themselves as they are beginning to write:
- Which of my clients are going to be impacted by this piece of legislation/news/etc?
- How are they going to feel about this?
- How can I help them get through this uneasy time and be a source of support and stability?
These questions can help attorneys think about incorporating not only useful and informative copy but also deliver genuine showings of empathy for the readers, many of which are in a time of major instability.
Display a sense of calm. Clients look to their lawyers to make sure everything in their business goes smoothly, whether they’re negotiation a merger or facing litigation. To them, their lawyers are the center of stability. Their lawyers find the areas of vulnerability, and address them before things go awry. They find the flaw in an argument and provide a solution to claims. It’s important that we use social media to remind our clients that we are still here, we are still calm, and we are still supporting them.
To that end, avoid alarming posts. We have all seen the COVID-19 cell structure image used by news outlets, corporations, and law firms alike. This image can be alarming and instill fear. To the point above, avoid using this type of imagery or fear-inducing copy in headlines.
Make it fun, make it real. Law firms are not immune to the devastation that has been caused by COVID-19. Firms are reporting layoffs, furloughs, and salary cuts. It’s a tumultuous time for all. But for those of us who are still working and keeping our heads up, we can still share the real side of things. Have your usual client lunches turned into lunches filled with the laughter of your toddler? Is your pet insistent on joining all of your virtual meetings? Encourage your attorneys to share the real side of the situation. Encourage them to share their vulnerabilities as well as their sources of strength. While we must maintain a professional demeanor, we can keep in mind that social media is social. Maybe your firm creates a campaign around this idea or maybe an attorney shares on their personal page a photo of their keyboard covered in Mac & Cheese after their little one knocked it over during a working lunch. Showcase the reality. It’s relatable, encouraging, and comforting in this time of distance and discomfort.
If you are interested in watching the full webinar, which goes far beyond this recap, click here to check it out. Stefanie and Kristyn share their favorite social media tools, how to maintain networking groups in a virtual world, the key building blocks of LinkedIn, and more.