Five Ways Law Firms Can Use Social Media to Build Trust

by Dom on February 7, 2011

Clients might interview a law firm, but they hire the lawyer. They extend their loyalty to the lawyer.

It’s personal: Does the lawyer understand my business, does she understand the issues I’m facing? What sort of image is your firm projecting? Social media can help present your business in a more personal way. View it as an opportunity to give back—yes, a chance to build conversation and dialogue in your specialized area of legal expertise.

Clients need more than your legal competence and your technical expertise; they need to know you care. They have a myriad of choices; you’re not the only firm in town and Internet sources of legal information and counsel are plentiful. Will you join the conversation or hope it goes away? Social media can present an essential point of differentiation—trust. Here’s five ways you can begin to use social media to build trust.

Add a blog to your website: Are you an expert in estate planning? Map out your strategic thought process when helping clients so readers gain a sense of what they’re missing by not talking to you.  Potential clients don’t know what they don’t know—most think they can handle estate planning on their own: Enlighten them. Create a simple blog calendar and enlist your associates to post periodically on relevant topics. Invite clients and colleagues to explore and weigh in.

Blog to provide context for current events: Students looking to pursue an environmental legal education aren’t simply looking for the highest ranked environmental law program. They’re looking for an essential point of differentiation; namely, thought leadership. A fine example of this is GreenLaw, the weblog of Pace University Law School’s top-ranked environmental law program, which aims to provide information, context, and commentary on current events and developments in environmental law. You can do the same in your area of specialty.

Join the conversation: Which firms are using Twitter in your area? Use Twitter’s search functionality to search them out by zip code. Are they using Twitter to build their business? How?  As a rule, only one in twelve of your tweets should be sales related in any way—realize that folks subscribe to build a relationship. The business will come when the trust is established. Comment on blog posts just for the fun of it—just to give back. When using Twitter embed a link in your tweets to advertise new blog posts. Invite the input of others and courteously and promptly respond to all comments. But don’t make an orphan of your blog—don’t even create one if you don’t have the willingness or resources to keep up the interaction.

Use your face not your firm’s logo on Twitter: Another blogger in the legal social media space rightly points out that using a logo on your Twitter profile instead of the more personal approach, your face, is the biggest mistake you can make. Remember, clients want to connect with a person, not a logo; they want a relationship not another sales pitch.

Inbound marketing: Have you invested in search engine optimization so your firm comes up in Google searches? Now what? What are you doing with the traffic? Track who’s coming to your website, especially those taking action (downloading a free e-book, brochure, or whatever). Continue the conversation and build relationships with these people using a “drip e-mail campaign.” You may need a marketing expert and a software solution like Hubspot to accomplish this, but it’s a great way to build your business by connecting with those who are already visiting your website.

Here’s some other helpful social media resources to get you going:

Shear on Social Media Law; Social Media Law; Social Media Law News; 10 Social Media and Law Epic Fails.

Photo credit:  905bosun‘s photostream/Bob Kelly

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