Social Media Marketing for Personal Injury Law Firms – is it worth it?

Social Media Marketing for Personal Injury Law Firms - is it worth it?Personal injury is an extremely competitive field and one of the most difficult niches to run social media campaigns for. Is it even worth spending time on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Pinterest? Or does Social Media amount to nothing more than a time sink, taking away from billable hours?

This is a controversial topic in legal marketing. Some legal marketing experts believe that social media marketing is at best a secondary marketing tool. Other legal marketing gurus are advertising that they know of a social media strategy than can significantly impact lead generation. Who is right?

We believe that social media can be an effective tool to support your marketing efforts, but only when used in combination with other marketing channels. What follows is a guide that will help you define an effective Social Media Strategy for your law firm.

Define your Social Media Marketing Goals

Your first step towards success in social media lies in defining your social media marketing goals. In other words, ask yourself: What am I trying to accomplish by being on social media?

We recently published an article titled Content Marketing for Personal Injury Attorneys, which explains how to formulate a content strategy for your law firm. Social Media is but one of many distribution channels that you can use to share your content. So be mindful of aligning your social media marketing goals with your overall content strategy.

Here are some possible social media marketing goals to consider:

  • Personal Branding and Career Development: I want to develop my professional identity and show the world my legal expertise.
  • Corporate Branding: I want my community to be aware of my law firm’s brand and the firm’s area of expertise.
  • Community Engagement: I’d like to engage my local community on legal topics of interest.
  • Peer Engagement and Networking: I want to network with other lawyers who may send referrals my way. I want to establish myself as a thought leader amongst my peers.
  • Content Distribution: I’m looking for more avenues to publish my content, so that more people read my blog entries and watch my videos.
  • Client Acquisition: I want to drive more traffic to my website, where I can convert prospective clients into paying customers.
  • Recruiting: I want to find top talent for my law firm.

Choose your Social Media Audience

Social Media Marketing for Personal Injury Law Firms - choosing your audience

Once you have decided your social media goals, define who you are trying to reach. Try to make this as specific as possible in terms of income, age level, professional background and other demographic data.

Sometimes it makes sense to define a different audience for each social media platform that you wish to have a presence on. For example, you may want to target future employees through LinkedIn, inform injury victims about your practice areas through Instagram and Facebook and announce your new blog posts to your peers through Twitter and LinkedIn.

Choose your Social Media Platforms

The most popular Social Media Platforms in the United States

According to statistics company Statista, Facebook is the most popular social media site in the United States based on share of visits, followed by Youtube, Twitter and Reddit.

Social Media Marketing for Personal Injury Law Firms: Leading social media websites

Facebook is also the most popular smartphone app in the United States as of April 2017, ranked by mobile audience reach. It is closely followed by Youtube, Messenger, Google Search and Google Maps.

It makes sense to have a presence in the most popular social media platforms, if only to reach a large percentage of the overall population. However, there are other factors to consider when choosing the right platforms for your social media campaigns. Let’s look at what your peers are doing on social media.

Which Social Media Platforms are Lawyers using and why?

According to the ABA 2016 Legal Technology Survey Report 74% of lawyers state that their law firms maintain a presence in social networks. Further, 76% of lawyers report that they individually use or maintain a presence in one or more social networks for professional purposes. That’s over two thirds of all legal professionals!

Social Media Marketing for Personal Injury Law Firms: Firm Presence on Social Networks

Source: American Bar Association, Legal Technology Survey Report

 

LinkedIn remains the most popular network among lawyers, followed by Facebook. Only 21% of respondents maintain a presence on Twitter, the least popular of all major social media platforms.

The most popular reasons cited by lawyers for personally using social media for professional purposes are:

  • Career development and networking: 73%.
  • Client development: 51%
  • Education and current awareness: 35%

This data sheds some light on the popularity of LinkedIn among lawyers. After all, LinkedIn is the most professional of all social networks. Lawyers who wish to network and further their career will naturally gravitate towards it. Law firms on the other hand use LinkedIn to promote their brand, to showcase their thought leadership and to recruit top talent.

Let’s review the second reason lawyers use social media: prospecting. While 51% of attorneys have their eyes on getting new clients via social media, only 25% of them report that they have had a client retain their legal services directly or via referral as a result. Why do legal professionals get such a dismal conversion rate from their social media efforts?

Here’s why: When survey respondents were asked to characterize their use of social media, the most popular responses were:

  • consume content regularly and participate seldom: 47%
  • consume content only: 41%.
  • consume content and participate regularly: 12%

It comes as no surprise that social media activity yields little to no result for attorneys who are essentially information consumers, creating little value-add for their audiences. Participation and audience engagement are the pillars of social media success. But lawyers to date have not done enough to stimulate, engage and entertain their audiences! There are notable exceptions of course. The Sam Bernstein Law Firm in Michigan is an excellent example of social media success, with a great Facebook page that provides engaging and varied content.

How to choose the right social media platform

Choose a platform with a large audience: As mentioned earlier, it pays to be present on important social media platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn, just so you have the potential to reach a majority of the U.S. population. But there are other factors to consider.

Choose the platform with the right demographics: The demographics of each social media platform are different. Instagram users for example tend to be younger than Facebook users, Pinterest is favored by women and 79% of Twitter users are located outside of the United States. For more detailed statistics on social media demographics, head over to Sprout Social. Decide who you are trying to reach first and then choose the right platform based on the demographics of your audience. For example, if you are trying to attract victims of dirt bike accidents, you might want to pass on Pinterest and focus your efforts on Facebook or Instagram.

Choose the platform with the right content: Not all social media platforms are created equal. Each of them has a specific social orientation and focuses on broadcasting a different type of content, so don’t make the mistake of spreading the same content across all your chosen platforms. In order to be an effective social media communicator, you need to tailor the content you produce to each social media platform.

LinkedIn versus Facebook: LinkedIn attracts professionals interested in networking and sharing thought leadership. Facebook content tends to be more social and community oriented. On Facebook lawyers typically share community initiatives and snaps showcasing what it is like to work at their firm. As such, Facebook is a great complement to LinkedIn, if you are looking to illustrate the company culture, work atmosphere and community involvement of your firm. Why not take some snaps of your latest charity drive and post them on Facebook? And those pics of your 4th of July company party – those belong on Facebook as well, not on LinkedIn.

The ugly cousin – Twitter: Twitter still has relatively few users among lawyers. Most of them use the platform to stay current on legal affairs, political commentary and in the case of personal injury lawyers, the latest accident news. You may want to use the platform to find mentors and connect with other lawyers. Participating in a Twitter debate about a controversial ruling is a great way to drive engagement. Finally, Twitter can be a valuable tool for brand awareness, but only if you are willing to tweet regularly, as Tweets become obsolete much faster than Facebook or LinkedIn posts.

Instagram and Pinterest: These platforms are mostly vehicles to drive brand awareness, as they are focused on visual elements. Visual content lends itself to storytelling and brand identification, due to the strong emotional involvement by the audience. However, keep in mind that taking great photos and crafting appealing visual stories isn’t as easy as it seems. So proceed with caution.

Choose your Social Media Content

Align your Content with your Social Media Marketing Goals

As mentioned, your content needs to be aligned with your social media marketing goals. If your main goal is to network and become a thought leader in your field, then announce your case studies and offer up legal commentary. If you are trying to recruit new lawyers, brainstorm on how to best convey corporate culture, work atmosphere and perks to your prospective employees.

Follow these Publishing Principles for Social Media Success

Be consistent: We can’t stress this enough! To build up your online audience, it simply isn’t enough to post and tweet occasionally. You need to publish engaging content consistently and predictably before you can get any traction. And you need to engage with your audience regularly. Starting out in social media can be frustrating, so be prepared to be patient.

Be platform specific: Don’t deploy the same content across all your chosen social media platforms. Instead, announce your new blog post on LinkedIn and Twitter, share your candid office party shots on Facebook and use Instagram to share lighthearted content such as lawyer jokes and motivational quotes.

Engage, engage, engage: Social Media are called SOCIAL for a reason – they are based on social interaction. Unlike traditional media channels such as TV and radio, where messages are pushed onto the audience, on social media communication goes both ways. Resist the temptation to push your sales pitch onto the audience and then sit back waiting for the results to pour in. Instead find ways to start a dialogue with your audience, much like you would if you went to a party or a legal convention. Admittedly, this approach is relatively easy to implement if your goal is to network online, but can be more challenging when you are trying to find new clients.

Offer Variety: Do you like to watch the same TV show over and over? No, most likely you prefer a mix of shows, news and documentaries, depending on your mood, how tired you are and how much time you have. Social Media is no different. People like variety. So try to offer a content mix to your audience. The following is a list of possible content you may want to share via social media:

  • breaking news
  • legal commentary
  • blog post, podcast and video announcements
  • advice
  • jokes
  • surveys and polls
  • statistics and infographics
  • client testimonials
  • employee profiles
  • case studies

A great way to network with fellow attorneys and thought leaders consists in sharing their content online. This will often be reciprocated and can be the start of a productive online collaboration.

Social Media as a Lead Generation Tool

Social Media Marketing for Personal Injury Law Firms: Lead GenerationCan you use social media activity to directly generate leads?

In our experience social media will typically not directly generate as many leads as a well-structured PPC campaign.

The reason for this is simple. Most of us aren’t always in the market for personal injury legal services. We don’t regularly shop around for car accident attorneys the way we search online for the best golf clubs. Accidents rarely occur and when they do, an injury victim will be in need of legal assistance only during a specific brief period of time. It is then and only then when the victim will search online for legal representation. He or she will generally do so via Google search.

In this context it makes little sense to try to drum up a large social media following of potential victims. The majority of social media users will avoid thinking about accidents as they are traumatic and scary. In addition most of us don’t think about ourselves as the next potential victims of a serious accident.

That is not to say that we are discounting the use of social media for lead generation. Social Media should be seen as a contributor to your prospecting efforts, albeit an indirect one. To understand what this means, let’s look at the theory of customer touch points. We define customer touch points as interactions a customer has during the pre-sales, sales and post-sales period of his customer journey.

How many touch points are needed to generate a sale?

According to Salesforce, during the pre-sales stage, it takes 6 to 8 touches to generate a viable sales lead. In plain English, you typically won’t move a client towards signing a case with you through one single interaction with your brand. Nowadays, a prospective client has to interact with a brand 6 to 8 times before he is ready to be sold to. Here are some examples of typical legal customer touch points for the prospecting stage of the customer journey:

  • Blog
  • White Papers
  • Articles
  • Advertisements
  • Email Campaigns
  • Brochures
  • Billboards and Signage
  • Event Sponsorships
  • Social media profiles and posts
  • Website
  • Association Memberships

It’s important to see social media as one more touch point that leaves a prospective client with a positive impression of the firm during the brief time he or she is in the market shopping for legal services.

Social Media as one of many customer touch points

As we have seen, to stay competitive, your business development efforts need to address as many customer touch points as possible. This is the only way to successfully drive conversions. Your overall marketing goal should therefore be to develop a multi-platform and multi-channel marketing strategy, so as to reach prospective clients wherever and whenever possible. Social Media is but one component of a sound legal marketing strategy.

If the overall effort to market your firm this way seems too complex and time-consuming to handle on your own, we can help. To connect with injured victims nationwide our Injury HelpLine uses traditional TV advertising, complex PPC campaigns and a strong social media presence. We manage all the customer touch points in this prospecting stage. 

Our Member Attorneys focus on managing customer touch points once the case opportunity has been created by the Injury HelpLine. That includes offering Injury HelpLine callers a free consultation to determine their legal needs, providing legal assistance and case progress updates to current clients and nurturing past clients via email campaigns and thank you notes.

Our model is simple and effective, because it allows all participants to focus on what they know best. We know marketing, you know law. The beneficiary of this collaboration is the injured victim, who receives the best possible customer experience across all customer touch points.

Other posts in this series:

Marketing for Personal Injury Attorneys – The Importance of Strategy.

Marketing for Personal Injury Attorneys – Content Marketing for Law Firms.

Marketing for Personal Injury Attorneys – Is Outsourcing an Option?

 

Contact us to explore Membership Options


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