More Law Agents than ever before are using social media for their practices. Yet there are many in Scotland who have yet to fully embrace social networking platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+ and even more who have still to use them effectively.
Social media expert Gavin Ward of Moore Legal Technology outlines his top 10 do’s and don’ts for Law Agents looking to use social media channels effectively to enhance their own personal brand and that of their firms:-
Top 10 Do’s
• Have a plan – while you don’t need a 2000 word social media strategy, it’s best to have at least some goals in mind, whether it’s to stay updated with developments in your area of practice, to build up your professional network or to increase the number of word of mouth referrals you generate, for example.
• Join LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ as an individual, not just as a firm;
• Complete your profile, particularly on LinkedIn, draft your profile for potential clients and referrers of business, not like a CV, and use relevant keywords for your specialisms;
• Download the official apps for your mobile device (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, iPad etc);
• Connect with others – on Linkedin, see who you already know using the Outlook tool, connect with relevant contacts and join relevant groups; on Twitter, follow relevant contacts and people who you could do business with or who are influencers in your area, particularly those who could refer business to you;
• Post updates on the go, perhaps of a recent case success, completed deal or interesting news story, while respecting confidentiality obligations;
• Engage with your connections – like, share or comment on their updates;
• Use a social media dashboard, such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to manage your accounts more efficiently;
• Set up saved searches within Twitter or your Hootsuite dashboard for relevant keywords such as #familylaw or ‘recommend solicitor’; and
• Keep it going. All too often lawyers join social networks with lots of activity in the first few weeks or months, then leave their profiles sitting without any updates, connections or any signs of life. Those who manage to build social media into their daily or weekly routines are those who will get the most out of it.
Top 10 Don’ts
• Don’t join social networks and immediately start posting a barrage of updates. It’s best to take time to listen and get a feel for best practices and for the types of conversations and interactions that are already taking place in your network;
• Avoid bombarding your contacts with updates all at once. If you do that, it would be like attending a conference and shouting across the room; indeed, it’s best not to over-market at all. Remember that the word social in social media is there for a reason;
• Don’t think that you have to manually share all of your blog posts to your networks; there are ways to automate certain functions, such as automated sharing of your blog to LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+;
• Having said that, don’t think that you can do everything on auto-pilot; You can’t and, indeed, shouldn’t automate everything;
• Don’t ignore your connections. Engaging with relevant contacts and holding real conversations on social media channels will produce the best results for you;
• Don’t just share and like the updates of your firm or your colleagues at your firm. While ‘tweeting in convoy’ (a term coined by Jon Bloor and Brian Inkster) can be a very effective technique, you should seek to branch out and widen your network;
• Don’t ignore negative feedback. For large retail companies negative comments on social media channels are much more prevalent than with solicitors on social networks, but if you ever do get negative comments, the best thing to is to acknowledge them at least once, then try to take it offline;
• Don’t be overly negative or critical. It can be tempting to use the power of social networks to be critical of things you don’t like or disagree with, particularly when it comes to complaining about delayed public transport! There’s nothing necessarily wrong with expressing negative criticism in a professional, insightful and well-reasoned manner on social media networks. But it’s important to remember that social networks are generally used by other professionals in a positive way, with people seeking to help, support and collaborate with each other and that most of the time negativity is shunned.
• Don’t spam. There are many laws that exist to prevent spam emails, but this is not so with social media accounts. That said, you have to play by the rules of the networks and if they catch you sending out mass-marketing direct messages you may end up banned from the networks;
• Don’t spend too much time on social networks, particularly if you have client deadlines and your clients may potentially see your social media activity. Take breaks or you could end up with ‘social media fatigue’ relatively quickly. There are, however, some optimum times to use social networks to get in touch with your connections – it can take some time to work out the best times for you and there is a lot of research on this area available online.
Special to SLAS Memorandum Book 2013. All Trademarks are acknowledged. Gavin Ward is an SEO & Social Media Marketing Director at Moore Legal Technology Ltd and Director at YouBlawg Ltd. Visit www.moorelegaltechnology.co.uk to find out more.