Social media has become a staple in law firms’ strategic branding efforts, but marketers struggle to justify a business case, especially with lawyers who are hesitant to use social media for business development. The two-hour deep dive session, “Beyond Branding: Aligning Social Media Strategy with Business Development Goals,” at the 2019 LMA Annual Conference in Atlanta focused on social media for lead generation and business development using simple, budget-friendly tactics.
Jennifer Simpson Carr, Director of Knapp Marketing, and Stefanie M. Marrone, Director of Business Development and Marketing at Tarter Krinsky & Drogin LLP, outlined how social media is used, what firms should be doing to connect with their target audiences, and how to implement best practices immediately.
Aligning Social Media with Business Development
Smartphones have changed the way users consume content. Clients want relevant information and expect this to be available at the tip of their fingers. To succeed in the digital era, it is essential to maximize social media usage and develop a content strategy that drives business development for your firm.
Stefanie and Jennifer discussed the "social media minute," and how easy it is to get lost in the noise that accompanies the real-time updates and barrage of information. To stay top-of-mind, analyze the performance data behind posts to understand what content performs best and is meeting client needs. Understanding what drives engagement allows you to curate a social media content strategy that performs well with your audience, and sets you apart from your competition.
It’s important for lawyers to take ownership of their social media footprint, because the lawyers’ networks are essential to growing the firm’s presence. Host social media lunch hours that offer usage tutorials. To get a higher engagement rate among lawyers, make content sharing very easy for everyone. Tools, such as ClearView Social, put content sharing a click away.
Developing recognition and gaining traction in social media requires a content strategy that consistently pushes out relevant information. Even if you don't have high engagement (likes, shares, etc.), it’s important to note that people are "silently stalking." According to Stefanie, "77 percent of in-house counsel use social media in a listen-only mode." Meaning, if people are not clicking, they are still seeing your content, and impressions are still happening. Your audience will develop a perception of your firm and remember what you shared.
Curating content can be challenging when we don't have complete control over what the firm produces, or how often it does so. Identify “evergreen content,” which is content that can easily be repurposed and turned into a post. Repurposing and creativity become essential pieces of a social media content strategy. For example, turn a lawyer’s speaking engagement into multiple posts: promote the speaking engagement in advance; post quotes or insights from a panel; ask the lawyer to put together a brief thought leadership piece on the subject; and share images alongside a short event recap.
Best Practices for Social Media
A social media content strategy is critical, but how and when you post are equally important. Best practices can ensure your content is reaching your audience and help your content to be prominent. Avoid sharing anything without an accompanying image, infographic, word cloud, or video. Use appropriate hashtags within the content, avoiding the use of more than two per post or adding multiple hashtags after the content.
Utilize an editorial calendar to ensure posts are consistent and varied in topic and content type. This will make posting each day easier and ensure the message is different for each network. Although the content can be the same across platforms, it should be tailored to each platform’s intended audience.
Most importantly, review what works for your firm to determine your own best practices. After implementing your strategy or after each campaign, analyze what works and what can be improved on, and redefine your plan accordingly. Plans should be flexible, and you should be willing to evolve to meet your goals.
Inexpensive Tools for Better Social Media
Social media is a free tool to expand the firm’s brand awareness and position lawyers as thought leaders in the field. Creating an image, scheduling content, and searching for the right hashtags take time. For small marketing teams and solo marketers, several free or inexpensive tools can help manage best practices.
The Hubspot social media calendar is a free pre-populated Excel spreadsheet that allows users to create a monthly calendar and a content repository for multiple platforms. Planable is a platform where users create and approve content. Grammarly is an online grammar checking, spell checking, and plagiarism detection tool. Capitalize My Title automatically capitalizes email subjects, article titles, and blog titles in various writing styles, including AP. Canva is a graphic design tool used to create infographics and images, posters, event invitations, banners, and more. It’s filled with free templates that can be edited with a simple drag-and-drop format.
By Sarah Blanchard, Marketing and Business Development Coordinator, Hogan Lovells US LLP, and Catalina Castro, Marketing and Business Development Coordinator, Hogan Lovells US LLP