Social Media Marketing for Law Firms

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1 Social Media Marketing for Law Firms David Laud Published by In association with

2 Social Media Marketing for Law Firms is published by Ark Group UK/EUROPE OFFICE Ark Conferences Ltd Paulton House 8 Shepherdess Walk London N1 7LB United Kingdom Tel +44 (0) Fax +44 (0) NORTH AMERICA OFFICE Ark Group Inc 4408 N. Rockwood Drive Suite 150 Peoria IL United States Tel Fax ASIA/PACIFIC OFFICE Ark Group Australia Pty Ltd Main Level 83 Walker Street North Sydney NSW 2060 Australia Tel Fax Editor Evie Serventi Head of content Anna Shaw Managing director Jennifer Guy UK/Europe marketing enquiries Robyn Macé US marketing enquiries Daniel Smallwood Asia/Pacific marketing enquiries Steve Oesterreich ISBN: (hard copy) (PDF) Copyright The copyright of all material appearing within this publication is reserved by the author and Ark Conferences It may not be reproduced, duplicated or copied by any means without the prior written consent of the publisher. ARK1818

3 Social Media Marketing for Law Firms David Laud Published by In association with

4 Contents Executive summary...vii About the author...ix Acknowledgements...XI Foreword...XIII Part One: Introducing social media as a marketing tool for lawyers Chapter 1: An introduction to social media... 3 Social media platforms explained... 3 In the beginning Technology... 7 Web Statistics Behaviour Trends Chapter 2: The importance of social media for law firms The changing patterns of client communication and interaction Examples of other sectors usage of social media Commercial and private client scenarios Profiles, networks, circles, groups, friends and followers Chapter 3: A strategic approach Reviewing your business plan Assembling a social media team Goal setting A social media plan to succeed Implementation of the plan Choosing the right platform(s) Implementation phases Marketing pick and mix III

5 Contents Chapter 4: Measurement and analysis What does social media success look and feel like? Tools Reporting and communication Chapter 5: Managing the risks of social media usage Risk and reputation Staff engagement Guidelines An example communications and equipment policy Chapter 6: Putting plans into practice Step by step Obstacles to success Time and team management It s time for action Chapter 7: The future Smartphone apps Part Two: Case studies Case study 1: Samuel Phillips Law Firm...79 Social media and Samuel Phillips Case study 2: Carter Backer Winter LLP Definition of the problem Research and competitor review What we changed Results Case study 3: Morton Fraser LLP Case Study 4: Doyle Raizner LLP Use of social media Effective steps in using social media Case study 5: Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC...91 Our firm s structure and markets Overview of social media strategy Activities taken and outcomes The place of social media in our practice IV

6 Social Media Marketing for Law Firms Case study 6: Brett Oaten Solicitors LLP The benefits of using social media applications Part Three: Appendices Appendix 1: Applications Appendix 2: Useful links and further reading Appendix 3: Glossary and jargon translation Index V

7 Executive summary Social media has burst onto the scene as the essential new communication, networking and marketing tool for businesses and professionals. But many law firms and lawyers remain sceptical about the real value to be gained from online interactions. Indeed, some feel that these fast-paced sites and the sometimes informal nature of their content are not an appropriate platform for professional, business communication. Others, however, who have dipped a toe into the social media pool, claim great success, whether in the form of new clients, stronger relationships, more engaged teams or new opportunities. Whichever camp you fall into, social media cannot be ignored. This report introduces the key social media tools and explains how they can be used in your firm, taking into account the risks and obstacles that may be encountered along the way. The report examines in detail the appropriate use of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as part of the law firm marketing mix and suggests essential applications to help you make the most of these three platforms. Written by a law firm chief executive with extensive social media marketing experience, this practical guide offers many clearly indicated tips and insights that will help the reader to understand and maximise the opportunities that social media present. Chapter 1 provides a brief history of social media and introduces the major sites. It discusses the similarities and differences between the platforms in terms of use, behaviour and trends. Chapter 2 examines the importance of social media as a marketing tool for law firms in particular, its role in client communication. The tough challenge of overcoming initial scepticism is discussed, with tips and scenarios provided. Guidance is offered on how to create a profile on each major platform and grow your network. Of course, there is little use in launching into the world of social media without first being clear what you wish to achieve from it. Chapter 3 emphasises the importance of reviewing the firm s business plan to ensure that any social media initiatives support the firm s overall aims. The next step will be to create a project plan to ensure the initiative meets its goals, which will include deciding which platforms are most suitable for what the firm wishes to achieve. Social media s integration and interaction with other, more traditional marketing activities is discussed. Chapter 4 poses the important question: what does social media marketing success look like? Tools and apps are introduced that will help you to ensure you are reaching your intended audience and being heard by the right people. Acknowledging that social media usage, and indeed web use generally, does have its risks, Chapter 5 gives advice on how to mitigate various risks, including damage to the firm s reputation, reduction in staff productivity and loss or leakage of sensitive information. A sample communications and VII

8 Executive summary equipment policy, that can be adapted for use in your firm, is provided. Chapter 6 walks the reader through the steps of putting carefully laid plans into practice, including tips on overcoming common obstacles to success. Two crucial elements of success time management and team management are discussed. Chapter 7 looks to the future and suggests how firms can keep abreast of the fast-moving world of social media and technology. Part Two comprises six case studies from law and accountancy firms in the UK, US and Australia. These demonstrate how firms are using social media as a marketing and communication tool and illustrate the benefits that firms and lawyers are seeing from their social media initiatives. Part Three, the appendices, lists useful sites and applications and includes a jargon-buster glossary. VIII

9 About the author David Laud is the chief executive of Samuel Phillips Law Firm, a chartered marketer and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. In addition, he is a mentor to business executives and runs his own marketing consultancy and smartphone application company. His early career saw him spend ten years with global travel company Thomas Cook where he headed the project team to build a new money transfer product, Moneygram. Following this successful launch, David joined US telecoms giant AT&T as head of marketing for the Systemedia Division. For the past 16 years, David has worked closely with the legal sector and has featured in articles in The Lawyer and the Law Society Gazette where he is also a book reviewer. His interest in social media started with the need to keep up with two teenage daughters on MSN Messenger, Facebook and Myspace. Over time, David identified, as many have done, the potential of the medium and now manages a variety of accounts that include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, Foursquare, Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, Quora, Qype, Audioboo and WordPress. He is also part of the beta testing group currently reviewing and making use of Google+. Despite business interests and social media taking a large part of David s time, he still finds a spare moment to take part in the odd run. To date he has completed 11 half marathons and is scheduled for his 12 th before the end of David is married and lives in the north east of England with his wife, Jo, and three children. IX

10 Acknowledgements It is hoped that readers will find the report useful and, above all, a tool that can be referred to in developing your social media strategy. Writing this report has been a thoroughly rewarding experience, although as most writers would testify, it s often a selfish pursuit and can leave those close to you wondering if it will ever be completed. There are a number of very important individuals who have assisted in bringing this project to its completion. A special note of thanks to the firms providing the all-important case studies and the busy authors who found the time to submit them. I must thank my wife, Jo, for her patience, cups of tea, words of advice and for allowing me to take the ipad to Portugal to complete the report. For my three children Georgie, Ellie and Bob, collectively known as Gellibob, who have had less time than usual to torment their father, you now have full access. I am very grateful for the opportunity presented to me by Ark Group and the trust that both Stephanie Ramasamy and Evie Serventi have placed in me. Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with a number of impressive individuals, all of whom left their mark and influenced the way I go about any task. Importantly they are not always those in senior management positions, although there are certainly examples of bosses that come to mind. There are too many to mention by name but those of you who have worked with me and continue to do so will know how grateful I am for your support, encouragement and ability to keep both of my feet firmly planted. Finally I would like to thank Georgie, the talented young cartoonist who provided the mind map, although she did say we should add it was to scale. XI

11 Foreword The challenge faced when writing on a marketing-related topic is that it can quickly become surpassed by events and developments. Never has that challenge been greater than when writing a report on social media the new kid on the block for marketers who are still getting to grips with the medium. I m certainly up for the challenge and whilst conscious of the dynamic nature of social media, there is no reason why we should ignore the pragmatic rules and disciplines of any other marketingrelated activity. There is no shortage of available material on the web, professional publications and not to forget seminars, webinars and face-to-face training on the subject. What is missing amongst this noise is a logical, yet detailed analysis of the medium that offers a practical focus for the legal services sector. The objective is simple to deliver a clear, fact-based and jargon-free guide to using social media as a marketing tool for decision makers within the legal profession. The objective may sound simple but the task of classifying and encapsulating a fluid and expanding phenomenon such as social media into an easily-digestible guide can be a challenge. It is, however, necessary, given the clear opportunities presented by effectively engaging in the medium. To start the process, I engaged in a triedand-tested method of gathering random, but related elements a mind map 1 as shown in Figure 1: Mind map XIII

12 Foreword Figure 1. Once the areas were in full view in all their random splendour, the next step was to place them in a logical order to enable the reader to follow a step by step guide and return to the contents at a later date to review specific sections. In this report I often rely upon another thought-ordering process Rudyard Kipling s six honest serving men, What and Why, How, Who, Where and When. Although these words aren t used directly, they form the DNA of most of the chapters. This methodology may go some way to demonstrating my approach to social media and other marketing-related activities. It shouldn t matter that social media is relatively new and, as with many web-related activities, is driven by users battle against being classified and categorised. The various leading platforms have moved from the requirement to gather as many users as possible to now earning direct revenue. The owners of these websites understand the commercial opportunities of the business community collating and storing data on their account holders. In addition, many businesses identified very early on that a platform that brings hundreds and thousands of people to a common arena must offer up opportunities to market their wares. The legal services sector has long had a love-hate relationship with marketing. While the opportunity for a positive piece of PR is embraced, the more direct, basic and brash forms of selling are frowned upon. Often, because of this relationship with marketing, professionals have failed to seize opportunities or, at best, arrived somewhat late at the party. A view is often taken within practices to observe emerging trends and be rather cautious when considering an investment. Once decided upon, it can then prove difficult to shift the practice towards more dynamic opportunities as the decision makers within firms are more risk averse than entrepreneurial by nature. The challenge is therefore not only to provide a meaningful analysis and guide to social media marketing, but to assist the professional practices to implement initiatives internally, to ensure their plans bear fruit rather than die through lack of interest and preference to stick to what they know. There are barriers to overcome and in this report we examine how to avoid becoming embroiled in worries over the risks of engaging in social media activity for marketing purposes. Reputation management is a key factor in the effective implementation of a social media strategy but shouldn t become a reason not to engage. Social media is one of any number of marketing initiatives that a forward-thinking practice should develop. For the greatest return, the various initiatives need to be connected and they should share a common vision to deliver results for the firm. The crystal ball was not available at the time of going to print, however, in the invent your future section of this report, we will take a look at the technologies that are likely to have an impact on marketing and professional practices in the coming decade. ipads, smartphones and their applications are a couple of examples of how our methods of seeking information have changed in recent years and they are continuing to alter our working environment. Having your head in the cloud is no longer a derogatory term as businesses begin to harness the benefits of virtual technologies. Throughout this report, the aim has been to put the reader at the centre of thinking and provide an easy-to-follow guide to the world of social media and implementing an effective strategy for your practice. Each area of consideration concludes XIV

13 Social Media Marketing for Law Firms with some top tips that summarise the most important points and help the reader form an action plan. The report is born out of direct hands-on experience as the CEO of a very busy regional practice and marketing consultant supporting client firms with a variety of social media projects. Whilst my experience has helped, the true value of the report is in the broader sourcing and supply of excellent case studies from a variety of firms. Reference 1. For more information on mind maps, visit: XV

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