Social media is a useful tool for lawyers looking to generate new business and grow their firm.
Growth is relationship-driven
When it comes to law firm growth, there is no substitute for new client relationships.
More clients equal more revenue, more experience, and ultimately more financial reward.
But the reality is that while some grow their practices with ease, many more struggle with business development.
Guides and coaches preach many methods and complex recipes for law firm success.
But it still boils down to one simple goal.
Winning new clients.
And it is here that law firms would benefit most from a methodical approach: clear goals and effective systems are what allows a law firm to build up a full book of business.
Use social media for relationship building
So now that you know that law firm growth relies on winning new clients, how often should you be investing time into business development activities?
Gone are the days where firms could rely upon short bursts of business development.
In 2020, there are more lawyers and firms than there have ever been.
This means a competitive market: good for the consumer but challenging for law firms.
For law firms, business development has turned into a daily habit. A year-round activity to keep the firm front of mind for current and future clients, 365 days a year.
The traditional approach has favoured sporadic activitiy.
Think an annual lunch and a couple of dry email updates thrown in between.
The problem is that for the 11 other months of the year, the firm is going to be invisible.
While your firm is invisible, other firms that are putting effort into being visible all year round are going to be the ones a client chooses if they need a lawyer.
In other words, relationship-driven firms will rise to the top.
Make no mistake: the best firms in your area are probably busy because their business development is built around a sustained relationship throughout the entire year.
Social media is a year-round channel
So we know that it is harder than it has ever been to get clients to choose your firm.
And we also know that the traditional approach – a yearly catch-up, and a couple of boring emails in between – is not enough to build a relationship with those potential clients.
Without sustained contact from a law firm, potential clients will slip away.
So how do you build a year-round relationship with the legal market?
How do you give your law firm a:
1. 24/7 online presence;
2. clear branding; and
3. a way to connect on a more human level all year long?
The answer is social media.
Think LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and online forums like Quora, Reddit and NEXL.
Still don’t believe that social media is a ‘must’ for your firm? Read on for our break down of the 3 things that only social media can do:
Reason 1: 24/7 online presence
The first reason for your firm to have social media relates to the nature of the legal buying process.
Research tells us that purchasers of complex services (clients) get more than halfway through their buying decision before they directly contact the service provider (your firm).
If this is the first time you’ve heard this, re-read that last sentence.
You can’t expect a client to engage with you until they’re halfway through their buying decision.
In other words, you have no direct influence over almost 50% of a potential client’s consideration of your firm.
For that 50%, the firm is reliant on the information that the potential client is able to find and consider through their own research.
As a result, many firms are missing out on new clients by no fault of their own.
The clients are looking for the firm.
It’s just that the information isn’t there.
To strengthen visibility and create a 24/7 online presence for those clients, your law firm should invest in social media. It might be the most valuable investment you ever make.
2. Reason 2: Law firm branding on social media
The second reason for a law firm to have social media relates to how the firm presents its services to the legal market.
In other words, social media allows the firm to position or brand itself.
But why is branding important for a law firm?
A brand differentiates something from its alternatives.
It has immense value for products, services, law firms and even individual lawyers.
A great example of effective law firm branding is as the ‘domain expert’.
With this brand, the firm emphasises its specialist knowledge and expertise in just a couple of practice areas and industries.
This narrow branding means there are fewer alternatives to the firm’s expertise.
By suggesting that your firm solves only a few problems, across limited domains and types of clients, you actually boost the chance that clients will hire you.
Still not convinced?
Think about your local convenience store and your favourite local restaurant. Both sell food.
But only one comes to mind when I ask – ‘Where can I go for a nice meal around here?’.
It’s the restaurant, of course.
And it’s not because you couldn’t eat food from the convenience store if you had to.
It’s because the restaurant has a better brand when it comes to a ‘nice meal’.
You want to be the restaurant – not the convenience store.
Want to learn about personal branding? Take a read here.
3. Reason 3: Engage with the market on a more human level
It’s one thing to be a good law firm with a memorable brand – but it’s another thing to be someone that your potential clients actually want to hear from throughout the year.
Sure, having an email list is good, but most law firms do essentially the same thing.
They spam out impersonal, dry legal updates to their clients.
You don’t need to be a genius to realise that most people aren’t excited by this kind of content.
It seems that tradition is once again to blame.
After all, the traditional concept of ‘thought leadership’ meant authoring an article in a respected journal; chairing a discussion group for an industry or interest group.
And don’t get me wrong. These are worthwhile initiatives for any lawyer, business development aside.
But we’re talking about winning new clients here.
As a result, lawyers and law firms ignore the obvious – that your clients are human too, and that they are more likely to engage in a simpler, more human conversation.
But now that you’ve read this article, you’ll know better.
And you’ll want to take action in accordance with this realisation. To share the stories of the lawyers in your firm, challenges that you’ve faced, and positive feedback from your clients.
But where do you do that?
You might hesitate when you think about the emails you sent out to your clients in the past.
And you’d be correct.
If you’re going to engage clients on a more personal level, do it on a platform where people expect and welcome it.
That platform is social media. And it’s not a particularly new concept either. In 2019, LinkedIn was voted the most popular social media website for lawyers in a 2019 Report by the American Bar Association.
Before you read this article, you might have been on the fence about social media. You might have struggled to believe that it was capable of being a genuine driver of firm growth.
But we’ve given you a detailed insight into the 3 pillars that social media so effectively drives for your firm: a 24/7 online presence, a strong firm brand, and a way to connect on a human level.
These 3 reasons provide a clear understanding of why law firms need social media. Start taking action today and read our guide to optimising your online presence.
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