Social media for lawyers – a game of snakes and ladders

Social media grips the world – 66 percent of adults use it and over 50 percent of website traffic for professional service firms is generated by it. But how do you use it to leap up the ladder of success and not to slide in the wrong direction?

Climbing the law firm ladders

There are many potential benefits to creating a strong and distinct social media platform. Some of the most obviously pertinent to law firms are as follows.

  • Greater brand identity: spreading awareness of your professional service, USPs, vision, expertise and achievements.
  • Raising your profile with specific people: using social media to “narrowcast” – the opposite of broadcast. Attracting only those niches you desire.
  • Being a better match for Google searches. Social media can bring loyal traffic that wants to stay on your website – and this can boost your search rankings.
  • Promoting thought leadership: positioning yourself as a creator and originator of ideas, new approaches and best practices.
  • Gathering information. Your clients, rivals and prospects are on social media: use it to find out what they’re up to.
  • Flexing your “soft power”. Be sociable and attentive towards your clients and prospects.

The big advantage…

Of course, social media is also called social networking – and therein lies its biggest benefit. Social media provides the opportunity to regularly connect with business contacts, doing that most human of interaction: sharing. Swap notes on legal news, keep up with the careers of clients and referrers, reach out to new people.

In marketing terms, these sorts of connections are called “warm”. People who you follow and who follow you get to know you as you get to know them – and this increases the likelihood of repeat business.

If you’re looking for tangible benefits of social media, these can include:

  • Volume, reach and duration of website traffic referred by social media
  • Engagements and affirmations: comments, likes, shares
  • Conversions: numbers using your “contact us” website link having first been referred by social media

Avoiding the snakes

Lawyers are wary of risks and some see social media marketing as being a potential pit of vipers.

Worries about transgressing client privacy

Concerns about this are natural but unfounded. Sharing professional news and events need not mean sharing sensitive details. You’re merely signalling your interest in your clients while respecting their confidentiality.

Disappearing down a black hole of time

Use of social media can become personally addictive but it shouldn’t become professionally so. You needn’t be communicating with everyone all the time via every conceivable type of social media. It can be managed so that you plan most of what you share.

Communications become fractious, brutal or embarrassing

Folk can be downright rude on social media, and that’s the problem isn’t it? Or are you concerned that you might be in a hurry and publish something you regret…

The remedy for the second is to delete your mistakes (and to plan and reflect; publishing on social media is like publishing via any other media – plan, produce and then pause to check what you’ve done is up to scratch).

Train staff who have access to your social media in the tone of your firm; ensure they know what you will and won’t permit. Ideally, have a sign-off process.

If you make a faux pas and someone has publicly commented upon it, acknowledge if you delete the offending item. A quick apology and thanks for spotting the error will suffice. Hopefully your firm won’t get a bad review; but if it does, this is a chance to use social media to show how quickly and well you respond to difficulties.

Those who get it right

Promoting a tangible product is more straightforward than marketing a professional service. Nonetheless, those legal organisations who make a success of social media tend to do the following.

  • Update and post regularly – new material, shares, tweets, likes, tagging people
  • Make your social media archive searchable
  • Actively invite people to join in
  • Use your social media to promote your approach to developing careers and expertise within your legal organisation

Your social media will need a strategy too.

  • A target market
  • A messaging strategy
  • A content/publishing calendar
  • Competitor analysis
  • Analysis and evaluation

Tips for lawyers for specific social media

YouTube/using video

A video stating, “Do you have a legal problem? We’ll fix it” won’t get much response. Instead, use your videos to give free legal tips and establish your credentials. Aim for videos of between five and 10 minutes long. Organise them into playlists that match the concerns of your clients. Tag them too. Use a YouTube “thumbnail” maker to create a striking opening screen to your video combining image plus typography.


Instagram is sometimes used by law firms in student recruitment campaigns. Suited to promoting the social/personal and professional development side of life at your organisation.


Again, very suited to recruitment. Successful Facebook law firm news feeds tend to be video-heavy and strike a balance between formality and informality/friendliness.


Tweeting regularly and when your clients may have some downtime are key. Use a Twitter dashboard such as TweetDeck to manage and schedule your activity.


Crucial social media depending upon your client base. Aim for a tone that – while professional – is fresh and avoids using hackneyed claims.

  • Craft your LinkedIn profile
  • Blog, share and comment
  • Participate in LinkedIn groups
  • Personalise your introductions. If not, your invitations to connect will seem spam-like

The first 48 hours of all social media are crucial. Do your tagging and search engine optimisation upon publication.


This article was written by Eve Dullabh, Managing Director of the Law Training Centre, Kent


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