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Practice Management: How to set up social media at work

Every Issue

Cite as: March 2014 88 (03) LIJ, p.77

Platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter are a fast and cost effective way to keep in touch with your clients.

Whether you’re ready for it or not, we are seeing social media revolutionise the way we communicate with our friends, family, colleagues and peers, and this certainly pertains to law firms, now more than ever.

If you’re in the small percentage of firms which haven’t considered some kind of digital or social presence, then it’s time to think again. Your clients are online so why aren’t you?

Social media is a huge part of cementing your firm’s online presence. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs provide a fast and cost effective way to keep in touch with your clients and prospects, keep an eye on competitors and keep up with industry trends.

Whether you are on social media or not, you will be discussed. Don’t believe me? Go on to Twitter and search the name of your firm with a hash tag. You might be surprised.

Getting started step by step

Research

Conduct online research into your target market by assessing current client demographics and users of your website using Google Analytics. You should also conduct research of current conversations on social media that are related to your services and research the social media presence of competitors.

Here comes the paperwork

We’ve all heard the horror stories of Facebook faux pas so I’m sure you can appreciate that social media comes with a degree of risk. So it’s essential to create a comprehensive social media strategy for your firm, including a social media usage policy and user guidelines along with a procedures manual for staff.

Make a plan

When it comes to social media, you should aim to reflect the personality of the firm. Once you know what “voice” you’re trying to project, you can decide which platforms are suitable. Once you have set up individual accounts with your platforms, create a detailed content plan by identifying all the sharable, newsworthy and educational content that the firm has to offer.

Producing valuable content

Social media content should provide its audience with value, so you must consider the value users will get from each post/tweet/video. It’s easy to post interesting updates, media articles, blogs, jobs at the firm and news, but ensure you’re providing a valuable experience each time followers visit the channel.

Manage, moderate, monitor

One of the most important aspects of integrating social media into your firm is managing and monitoring your social media presence and community. First decide who in the firm is best placed to take responsibility for your social media presence. Sign up with social media management platform HootSuite which allows businesses to execute campaigns across multiple social networks from one secure, web-based dashboard. This gives you the ability to launch marketing campaigns, identify and expand audiences and schedule and distribute targeted messages across multiple platforms.

From here you can use follower analytics across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Analytics to gain a deeper understanding of your follower base, community growth and engagement levels.

Getting followed

When people “like” your company page or comment and share in one of your posts, tweets, videos or blogs, a story is created in their feeds sharing this activity with their network. This creates an extended reach effect which automates the word of mouth effect, scattering your message organically through impressions. Your followers will become your brand advocates. They are key to driving word of mouth references and referrals.

Expand your online community
  • Invest in highly targeted Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn ads to quickly attract the precise audience.
  • Encourage staff to create LinkedIn profiles. Once they include the company name, they automatically become followers of the firm’s page. Encourage them to spread the word to their networks.
  • Add a “follow” button on the website to make it easy for people to follow your company on any platform.
  • Promote the social media channels outside the website using existing digital channels such as your company e-newsletter.
  • Reach out to key stakeholders and influencers where possible, e.g. re-tweets.
  • Respond to comments and feedback in real time where possible.
  • Regularly post and monitor comments about your firm to see what your audience is engaging with.
  • Schedule a monthly meeting to track progress and discuss emerging trends.
  • Create a monthly report on the behaviour across all channels.

Final word of advice? Social media is here to stay so if you can’t beat them, join them.



NICOLA WESTON is a social media adviser.

Socially active

The benefits of social media are that at its core it is a marketing, networking and engagement tool. In 2012 Australian law firms were given a social media star rating by Australia Legal Sector Social Media Snapshot 2012 (http://tinyurl.com/pumzeq5). Of the 80 firms rated, only DLA Piper and Slater & Gordon received five out of five stars.

DLA Piper holds social media in high regard. It has a distinct and appropriate tone for each of the platforms on which it is active. In the case of DLA Piper, one does not get a sense that it is overloading all its social media content on every platform. It is very active on Twitter and has posted more than 3627 tweets and has 14,486 followers. DLA Piper has more than 70 video clips on YouTube with a total of 27,044 views. Its Facebook page has 2815 “likes” and the content has a particular focus on engaging with the 18-34 year old demographic (as of 2 January 2014). DLA Piper demonstrates the potential impact and engagement a law firm can have when an appropriate and consistent social media strategy is implemented.

NUSSEN AINSWORTH is a lecturer at the College of Law and Justice, Victoria University.

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