I’ve had my own law practice for a little over 14 years now (i.e. prior to the “social media craze”). I’ve always gotten a large percentage of my new clients from referrals from other attorneys and prior clients. One method I used early on was a newsletter that I had printed monthly that went out to my various contacts. I would try to come up with not only topical articles about the law and recent success stories but, I would also include some “human interest” type things: horoscope predictions for the month, movie reviews, recipes, etc. I would also occasionally have a “client of the month” that I would designate to receive a few free movie passes or some other small gesture of appreciation. The problem, after awhile, was that it was taking me and my staff some portion of several days (on average) each month to come up with content, format and print it, put address labels and postage on it and get it out to our “constituency”. This led to me going from monthly mailers to “quarterly” to none at all when I got too busy to do it. Inevitably, I would see a drop off in referrals, I would start it back up again, it would become too burdensome, and the cycle would repeat.
How Can Social Media Outlets Replace The Traditional Law Firm Newsletter
Obviously, the whole purpose of the hard copy newsletter or even email or digital newsletters are to have a process to make regular and continuous communications with potential referral sources. To me, social media is a much more cost efficient and effective means to accomplish this goal. Almost every law firm, individual attorney and individuals with whom you have become friends and many of your prior clients have social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus or other site. To communicate with them “en masse” now only takes a few clicks of the mouse. There is nothing to print, nothing to put postage on and nothing to mail out. In addition, I think emails and digital newsletters delivered via email have their place but, let’s face it our inboxes are already full of spam and we are more likely than not to delete it. Social media, on the other hand, is something people look at on a fairly constant basis throughout the day and evening at their leisure.
To Do It Right, You Need to Mix Up Your Content and Have A System of Regular Posts and Follow-Up Engagement
Step one in the process of social media replacing a more traditional hard copy or digital newsletter is, obviously, setting up your various social media accounts or expanding existing accounts. For example, you may have had a personal Facebook page for years but, you should set up a “Business Page” and/or a “Fan Page” for your practice. On LinkedIn, you will want to beef up your profile to make sure all of your contact information practice areas and your publications (including websites and blogs) are current. As has been discussed by numerous other authors in this blog, it is essential that you update your Google Plus profile to include all publications to which you contribute both for informational purposes for your “audience” and for “Google Authorship” (different topic for a different day).
Once you have your various social media outlets set up, you should concentrate on putting out good relevant content that is both informative, interesting and NOT monotonous. The term “content curation” is currently a catch all phrase that means finding interesting information that relates to what you are and what you do and providing it to your audience in a way that peaks their interest. You can use various tools like “Scoop.it”, “Trap.It”, Google Alerts, following other people’s blogs and other means to find good content. You should then share the content with a mind on your audience base. For example, a scholarly legal article may be a good share for a lawyer group on LinkedIn but, more practical articles that relate to the law in the context of a Celebrity or current event may play better on Facebook. You then need to follow up on your posts to respond to “likes” and “comments”. As I pointed out in a prior post (see here), you need to “sandwich” your shares about legal issues with a little “human interest” (an inspirational quote, a good recipe, a feel good story or the like).
Unlike the traditional hard newsletter or email, social media posts can be sent out on a more regular and consistent basis (weekly at worst, daily at best). The key is to put out quality information on a consistent basis. You get instant feedback, true interaction, and a more efficient means to “stay fresh in the minds” of your audience.
Author Bio: Steven M. Sweat is an attorney in Los Angeles, CA, a member of the Circle of Legal Trust and a regular contributor to this and other blogs related to legal topics including California Injury Blog and California Accident Attorneys Blog.