Legal firms are looking at new ways to attract clients and grow their market share in a bid to be more competitive and profitable in the long term. By being more proactive with marketing, law firms can differentiate themselves from new market entrants offering generic, low-cost, transactional services rather than being pushed down on pricing.
We are seeing many of the law firms we work with investigating the merits of social media for client acquisition, here are a few facts and figures we have collected from our research on the web:
- 91% of lawyers use social media
- Of those, 60% say that social media plays a role in marketing
- 39% perceived LinkedIn to be the most effective social media channel
- However, just 4% said social media had been “very responsible” for client acquisition.
So, what can we take away from these findings?
I think it’s fair to say that the majority of firms are active on social media in some form or another, however many do not see it is a key driver in client acquisition as a sole marketing activity. Yet as part of a cohesive marketing campaign, social media plays a crucial role.
Research from Orange Business on Hinge Marketing blog said that in 2012 there was a 663% increase in people using Twitter to ask for recommendations around professional services. Web design was number one on the list of requested recommendations and solicitors were up there at number 2, highlighting how consumers are turning to social media to find legal resource – so the firms should be bringing their marketing engagement to them, proactively.
Furthermore 77% of professional firms (not just legal firms) are reported to generate new business leads online – and more importantly, the firms that generate on average at least 40% of their leads online are positioned to become twice as profitable as those firms that don’t. This demonstrates that by switching to more cost-effective marketing avenues such as social media, firms can increase sales and profitability.
However, are legal firms capitalising on this good news?
An article published at Solicitors Journal highlighted that the top 200 firms in the UK only have 360,000 Twitter followers between them (to put it into perspective, Coca Cola has 2.7m followers, Topshop has 1.09m, and Morrisons has 127k alone). The article highlighted how smaller firms are actually punching above their weight and gaining more traction through social media than their larger counterparts as 8 of the 10 most social-media proficient firms fall outside of the UK’s top 50.
So what types of social media can law firms start to use to build up their brand and lead numbers?
- Social media sentiment analysis – before embarking on a social media campaign for your firm, be sure to have in place a system of analysing the results you get from your efforts by tracking sentiment and checking what your customers are saying about you.
- Thought leadership – are you sharing your expertise with your potential new prospects? Using thought leadership strategies to build credibility on social media is recommended for firms within the professional sector whose reputation is based on expertise and experience. You could try having experts within your business creating content such as whitepapers, industry perspectives or how-to content to share with your clients.
- Twitter – Twitter is great for real-time access to a world of prospects, however Twitter alone is unlikely to win you new business. Instead use it to build your connections, enhance your brand and get your name known by a wider audience. Sharing tips from your own firm with industry relevant news helps to establish you as an expert in your field.
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn is perfect for high level networking as it is dependent on the contacts you already have, and your fee earners will typically be connected with decision makers across a wide range of companies – so capitalise on their existing connections and reputation to share content and information about your firm’s services.
- What information do you share with existing customers? How about setting up a company newsletter with insights and perspectives on industry news that you can share with clients by email. You can rejig and reuse existing content from your thought leadership activities to put into your newsletter.
The key is consistency – having an approach that is repeated regularly so new clients become familiar with your brand by seeing numerous articles, tweets, posts, shares etc.
The next step is then using analytics effectively in order to make sense of the data you collect from social media to inform and guide your next steps in marketing.
Read the full whitepaper from C24 about how to use analytics and business intelligence to improve business generation activities within your law firm.