The Legal Marketing Association‘s Social Media Special Interest Group is at it again – this afternoon, they brought members an excellent webinar focused on combating internal politics – how to sell social media to your lawyers. 

Featured on the panel were moderator and LMA SIG leader, Gail Lamarche, of Henderson Franklin, an employment law attorney and social media maven from her firm, Suzanne Boy, and legal marketing expert, Jill Rako with Ohio-based Bricker & Eckler. 

Since these webinars are an LMA member benefit, I’m not going to delve as deeply into the recap as I traditionally would, but I do want to hit the highlights! 

Why Social Media Matters

Still think that social media is a passing fad? (Really, still??) Here are some of the latest stats…

  • LinkedIn: has over 100 million registered users. 
    • Among them are 770,000 in the legal field – the 5th largest group
    • Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members
  • Twitter: "Blogging on crack" – 340 million tweets sent per day 
    • Over 500 million users
  • Facebook: has over one billion monthly active users
    • 584 million daily active users
    • 604 million monthly active mobile users

With those kind of statistics, can you really afford to not be on social media? Still need a few more reasons? 

  • Interact with other lawyers & keep up-to-date on recent decisions in your practice area. 
  • Don’t want to be the last one to the party when all of your clients are using social media. 
  • Clients, potential clients and referral sources can see you more regularly on social media, keeping you top of mind more effectively than traditional business development methods.
  • Gives a more well-rounded view of the lawyer and law firm as a whole.  

Selling Social Media to Attorneys

If you’re a marketing professional struggling with getting your attorneys on board with social media, use these tips from our expert panel – keep in mind there are two types of people, those who are motivated by pleasure and those motivated by avoidance of pain.  For the former, focus on positive motivation: 

  • Play on their spirit of competition
  • Show them how they can have business development opportunities in short increments of time. 
  • Show them how it affords them with visibility and SEO benefits.

For those motivated by the avoidance of pain, help them to overcome these objectives: 

  • Too complicated: Help the attorneys set up their profiles, and then empower them to engage directly. 
  • No value: Show success stories from other attorneys using social media. Show younger attorneys how much exposure they can get in their field of expertise. Show attorneys how they can interact with the heavyweights in their field instantaneously in a way that would otherwise be impossible. 
  • No time: Attorneys can take ten minutes to go through a stack of business cards from a networking event and connect to them on LinkedIn – then they can stay in touch with their clients/potential clients even if they change jobs, with no additional effort. 
  • "My clients hate email, they definitely won’t be on social media:" Show the attorney where their clients are already on social media. 

In some cases, you can use LinkedIn as a gateway to other social media, since it’s considered the most professional of the social media tools out there. Just make sure that all social media efforts are in line with the local ethics rules. 

Social Media Strategic Plans

Before attempting to get the attorneys on board with social media, you need to have a strategic plan in place.  The key ingredients for this plan involve identifying your audience and what they’re doing, as well as which tools they’re using (LISTEN FIRST).  Then, identify who will be responsible within your firm and what the content strategy will be. Don’t forget to promote successes as an integral part of the plan. 

Social Media Policies

Just as importantly, your firm needs a social media policy. Even if the firm doesn’t have a social media presence, are you really sure that every employee and attorney at the firm doesn’t so much as have a personal Facebook account? Suzanne Boy spoke from her perspective as an employment lawyer, noting that this is an ever-evolving area of employment law today, and her key tips included: 

  • Have a policy. 
  • Make sure everyone signs it – if it’s included with the employee handbook, it can be covered under the general acceptance of this, but if it’s a new policy, there will need to be an additional acknowledgement. 
  • Policies should cover lawyers AND staff. 
  • Don’t be overly descriptive – the NLRB is cracking down more and more these days, and their reach extends past union activity and can cover non-union workplaces as well. 
  • Run your firm’s social media policy by the firm’s employment lawyers – they are the most up-to-date in this area, and can help you to avoid trouble. 

Firms should also make sure to set up Google alerts, or use other social media monitoring tools such as Technorati or Social Mention to keep an eye on what’s being said about the firm – this will bring up any posts by employees who may not have their privacy settings well set. 

Best Practices

The panelists also discussed some general best practices for social media use: 

  • Don’t try to be all things to all people – know what you want to accomplish.
  • Don’t be "that guy" who’s posting the same thing over and over again all day and clogging up people’s feeds. It’s too easy to unfollow someone. 
  • Use a conversational tone; don’t just broadcast. 
  • Remember that different tools have different audiences – tailor your posts accordingly. 
  • Along with the "court of law" we have the "court of public opinion" – don’t discount the importance of either. One tweet/FB post, etc. could damage your reputation.
  • Monitor the channels! Don’t just set up your profiles and walk away – if you’re out there, people will be trying to interact with you and it can do more harm if you’re not paying attention than if you have no presence at all. 
  • Know your strengths – in some cases, it’s going to be best to act as a news aggregator and educator on a subject, rather than pushing out your own information. Figure out how you’ll be most valuable to your audience. 

The Bottom Line…

What’s the bottom line here, according to the panelists? 

  • Gail Lamarche: social media brings great minds together, whether through a hashtag, or reaching out to various audiences throughout the day. It’s a flexible medium that allows you to promote yourself and your firm wherever you are, whenever you can. 
  • Suzanne Boy: lawyers want exposure, and there’s few, if any, better ways to accomplish this than through social media. Whatever your "world" is defined as, your "world" is out there on social media. 
  • Jill Rako: if done correctly, social media can demonstrate technical prowess and can position the firm, practice groups or attorneys as thought leaders – that may be the tipping point for a client deciding to hire you. 

Fabulous webinar from our panelists! If you’re not a member of the Legal Marketing Association, but would like to be, so that you can have access to great content like this, you can find out how right here.  If you are a member, but haven’t signed up for the Social Media SIG group, you can do that here (just click the button for "request to join").  A recording of the webinar will be made available to members.